Children's TV presenter Tony Hart dies

Television artist Tony Hart, who inspired generations of children to draw during a 50-year career, died on today after a long illness, his agent said. He was 83.

One of Britain's best-loved presenters, Hart served in the army and painted murals on restaurant walls for free meals before breaking into television.

His agent and friend Roc Renals said Hart's health had been declining in recent months and he had been taken to hospital in Surrey with a chest infection.

"Thousands and thousands of young people who are now grown up will thank him for inspiring them to take up art," he told Reuters. "His genius was that for all those many years every programme had some sort of new technique. He worked tirelessly."

Hart's big break came in 1952 when he met a BBC children's television producer at a party. Invited to an interview for a job as a TV illustrator, he was asked if he could quickly draw a fish blowing bubbles.

"His secretary took too long finding a piece of paper, so I drew the fish on a serviette. The producer was impressed, and I was hired as a freelance," he recalled in an interview.

He got a job on "Saturday Special" and then worked on "Playbox", "Titch and Quackers" and "Vision On".

He won a BAFTA prize in 1984 for perhaps his best known programme, "Take Hart", in which he would create small and large artworks from scratch and display the best viewers' efforts in a feature called The Gallery.

He was joined on screen by a Plasticine character called Morph and Mr Bennett, a janitor played by actor Colin Bennett.

Hart designed the sailing ship logo for the long-running BBC children's programme "Blue Peter", earning 100 pounds.

Born in Maidstone, Kent, in October 1925, he began drawing as a young boy, sketching clocks on the backs of envelopes saved for him by his mother.

After leaving Clayesmore School in Dorset, he joined the 1st Gurkha Rifles before deciding to leave the army after the war to become a professional artist.

He trained at Maidstone College of Art and decorated restaurants with pictures for free meals before embarking on his long television career.

Illness forced his retirement in 2001 and a subsequent series of strokes cruelly robbed him of his ability to draw.

Hart, who lived near Guildford, Surrey, said he continued to receive lots of messages from people all over the world.

"My aged heart is warmed by the lovely letters and e-mails I receive, especially when they tell me that my work on television inspired the writers to become artists, sometimes very successful ones," he wrote in the Times newspaper last year.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test