Remember Rentaghost? That British children’s television comedy show broadcast in the 80s. Awesome tv time i tell you. We’d first dance excitedly to the theme song while singing along to words we didn’t really comprehend, then we would settle down to enjoy raw entertainment.
The plot centred on the antics of some ghosts who worked for a firm called Rentaghost, which rented out the ghosts to the public to perform various tasks.
The company is run by Fred Mumford, a recently deceased loser who feels he can find work for ghosts whose lives were as failed as his. His first (and only) recruits are Timothy Claypole, a mischievous jester with a comical lack of knowledge about modern technology; and Hubert Davenport, a delicate Victorian-era gentleman who is morally shocked by the modern world. The ghosts work from an office, which they rent from Harold Meaker, who discovers the truth about them in the third episode.
With witches, wild west gunslingers, jesters and pantomime horses all looking for work, the show immediately bedazzled a whole generation. The Rentaghost show was an absolute delight to all of us back then.
After then though, i, and i’m sure a great many other people, never saw any of the characters in any other tv show. So what ever happened to our jobless ghouls, are they still on our TV screens today but with different looks? have they ventured into other business? or are they dead?
i asked me this question a lot of times. So i decided to do some digging…
Real name Michael Staniforth would always be most fondly remembered for his role as the ghostly jester Claypole but he also found fame as a stage performer. His career included the role of CB in the original cast of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Starlight Express.
After Rentaghost he appeared in Canned Laughter but sadly died in 1987.
A while after Rentaghost, Mr Claypole disappeared. Rumours persist to this very day that during the mid 80’s, around the seedy booze halls of Soho, you could often catch sight of a broken, drunken man in a jesters outfit, desperate to remember better days.
And thus, in 1987, at the age of just 1987 minus someday quite a long time ago, Michael passed away and Mr Claypole died for the second time.
As well as starring in Rentaghost, Staniforth composed, played and sang the theme tune.
When Michael Darbyshire (the actor behind ghost Hubert Davenport) died in 1979, Anthony Jackson also decided to leave the show. He would continue to work through most of television’s best loved series until his death in 2006.
His list of credits include Bless This House, Citizen Smith, Only Fools and Horses, The Bill, Casualty, Footballer’s Wives and Doctors.
He also provided voices for the David Bowie film Labyrinth!
Hazel the McWitch
Real name Molly Weir was also an accomplished writer, as well as a TV and radio personality. She produced five volumes of memoirs and penned a trilogy of books about childhood in Glasgow.
If you fancy tracking them down, the first is called Shoes Were for Sunday. She died in 2004.
Real name Edward Brayshaw would find most of his acting roles before he actually got to Rentaghost, including an extended run as War Chief in Doctor Who! Unfortunately he only had a few more TV roles following his departure.
The most notable of these would be roles in The Bill and Bergerac. He died in 1990.
Real name Ann Emery left the world of spooks and ghouls to embrace the realm of theatre. She found herself enjoying a number of stage roles including My Fair Lady and Billy Elliot.
Between 1981-2007 she only had five parts, with roles in The Bill and S Club spin-off Miami 7. Her most recent role was in 2007’s Wednesday.
Real name Jeffrey Segal has enjoyed a long and rich career in UK television. Following from Rentaghost he has enjoyed a wealth of roles in instantly recognisable shows: Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister, Are You Being Served, Bergerac, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and most recently Jonathan Creek!
So some went on to the great beyond since Rentaghost but some still linger.
We miss them don’t we? i know i do.