Geoffrey Hayes, who made being the straight man to a pink hippo and a camp bear look an attractive career choice for a generation of children, has died aged 76.
Hayes, whose career was built on happy, calm optimism in the face of relentless ineptitude and sarcasm from a group of puppets, was a fixture for afternoons after school for millions.
Zippy is understood to be speechless, and for once that’s not because someone has zipped up his big stupid mouth.
As an entertainer, Hayes started out as a serious actor playing a detective in 1960s police drama Z Cars before spending decades sporting brightly-coloured chunky-knit sweaters and introducing Rod, Jane and Freddy without the faintest trace of embarrassment.
It was his ability to convey positivity and happy confidence without any knowing post-modern winks or speaking down to his audience which made him a star amongst the most important public of all – small, worried children who need role models.
If you miss those long afternoons of childhood where a silly man did his best despite a group of even sillier animals – look up, very carefully, and you might be able to see him smiling over the sky.