Michael Staniforth

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Michael Staniforth
Born (1942-12-15)15 December 1942
Birmingham, England,  United Kingdom
Died 31 July 1987(1987-07-31) (aged 44)
Resting place Golders Green Crematorium

Michael Staniforth (15 December 1942 – 31 July 1987), born in Selly Oak, Birmingham, was a British stage actor.

His father was a sergeant in the Army and so Michael's childhood was spent with his family in Germany, Egypt and Libya. He emigrated to Australia at the age of 21 and two years later landed a role in South Pacific at The Menzie Theatre Restaurant in Sydney, where for the next few years he performed in a further 12 musicals, including Wonderful Town and Cole Porter's Out Of This World, followed by a National Tour of The Boy Friend. He returned to England in late 1969 and first appeared in the West End in Hair at The Shaftesbury Theatre. He also appeared in the Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Speed) and Winnie The Pooh (Tigger) at the Phoenix Theatre. In 1977 he played the role of Paul, who is gay and Puerto Rican, in the original British cast of A Chorus Line, returning to the same venue (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) three years later as the young Tobias in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

In his best-known role, he entertained children and adults as ghostly jester Timothy Claypole, a mischievous medieval poltergeist, in the long-running BBC children's television comedy series Rentaghost.


Staniforth played Timothy Claypole from 1976, when the show first aired, until 1984, and was the longest-standing member of the cast. Claypole was a bearded medieval jester, dressed in motley and bells. Claypole's longevity as a ghost meant that he had expert ghostly skills; coupled with his mischievous personality, and often boundless psychic energy, he caused mayhem for the rest of the Rentaghost cast. Danny Birchall at BFI Screenonline noted:

The sheer energy of Michael Staniforth (who also performed the theme tune) as Claypole made it one of the longer-lasting children's television series, if not always the most fondly remembered.[1]

Staniforth also composed, played and sang the Rentaghost theme music, although he had to re-write it as "concern grew that it was too close to The Exorcist."[2] For example, the line "At your party hold a séance" became "At your party be a smartie".

Later career[edit]

In 1984, Staniforth had a significant role as "CB the Red Caboose" in the original line-up in the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical Starlight Express.[3]

Staniforth was openly gay. He died from an AIDS related illness on 31 July 1987.


  1. ^ "Rentaghost (1976-84)". BFI Screenonline. 6 November 1984. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Cult - Classic TV - Rentaghost - Trivia". BBC. September 2005. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Rentaghost - Whatever happened to Timothy Claypole, Miss Popov and Dobbin the Pantomime Horse?". The Bubble Burst. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 

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