The Choob is depressed to announce that the final credits have rolled on yet another TV hero from his youth.
Children’s TV legend Tony Hart died yesterday aged 83. No cause of death was given but his health had been failing since suffering two strokes a few years ago.
Non-Brits may not be familiar with the name. Tony was an artist-turned TV presenter who helped introduce generations of kids to art during a TV career that spanned half a century and included fondly remembered shows such as Vision On, Take Hart and Hartbeat.
After serving in the Army during WWII, Tony became a professional artist, graduating from art school in 1950. His first TV appearance came two years later, after a chance meeting with a children’s TV producer at a party.
The Choob’s first, vague memories of Tony are from seeing him on Vision On, a bizarre, somewhat surreal art-based comedy show designed to appeal to both deaf and hearing kids (It also launched the careers of the founders of Aardman Animations and provided early TV exposure for future Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy).
But the show I most remember him from is Take Hart, which ran throughout my formative years. That was the show that launched another children’s TV superstar – a little animated modelling clay man called Morph, who would playfully interrupt Tony while he was completing his latest picture. Morph was the first big success for Aardman and without him, and his exposure on Take Hart, we might never have had Wallace and Gromit.
Another memorable aspect of Take Hart (and, indeed, Vision On and all Tony’s shows) was The Gallery, which displayed a selection of pictures created and sent in by young viewers. At the height of Hart’s popularity, the received 8000 drawings a week. Even though he was no longer on TV, The Gallery lives on on Tony’s website.
Take Hart ended in 1984 and was replaced by Hartbeat and several other art shows presented by Tony for kids until his retirement in 2001.
In 1998, BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscars) gave Tony its ultimate accolade, a Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his unique contribution to quality children’s TV during his unbroken run of 50 years on our screens.
Tony Hart, RIP.
Who’s Morph going to annoy now..?
Here are a couple of clips to remind us of his talent:
From the first series of Take Hart (1976) (Includes The Gallery!):
And this is one of his last TV appearances, in 2000 as a guest on Meet Ricky Gervais: