To Doctor Who fans, Skelton was the voice of the Daleks from 1967 to 1988, his final appearance being in Remembrance of the Daleks. Voice duties for Daleks on the new show have of course been taken over by Nicholas Briggs who also voices the Cybermen, another voice provided by Skelton in the classic series.
Skelton wasn’t only a voice actor, however, and he appeared in classic serials Colony in Space (1971, as Norton), The Android Invasion (1975, as Chedaki) and Planet of the Daleks (1973, as Wester). He also voiced the Krotons from the eponymous serial and King Rokon in The Hand of Fear in 1976.
However, it was as Zippy and George, the stars of Rainbow, that Skelton became best known, with his voice emanating from the two puppets for over 20 years on a Wednesday and Friday lunchtime. The pink hippo with his slightly effete ways and the orange Zippy (apparently originally derived from a snake) became television legends and two of the most popular characters to appear on TV, all thanks to Skelton’s superb delivery and comic timing.
Examples of his voice work as Zippy and George can be found online, and Skelton and the two puppets were regular guests on shows as recently as 2008, with appearances on The Weakest Link and Harry Hill’s TV Burp.
Skelton was born in 1932 and is survived by his daughter Samantha Skelton.