For children like me growing up in the late 1970s, Tony Hart was a favourite art teacher. Avuncular and enthusiastic, he would appear on television with his naughty animated Plasticine sidekick, Morph, to create clever and sometimes grand works of art in the studio, outdoors and even on beaches.
But what many switched on for was his famous gallery section in the programme Take Hart which was an interlude of viewers' work sent in, arranged on the wall according to age and set against a musical background as the camera slowly panned past each of the chosen works. Anything from the naïve, colourful daubs of five-year-olds to precocious landscape and still life paintings were handpicked for the privilege every week during the show's lifetime from 1978 to 1984.
This interlude to Tony Hart's extended lesson in the joys of drawing, painting and even installation art, became something of a national institution. In its heyday, the presenter was being posted up to 8,000 pictures a week from children across the country.
The picture I sent in as an eight-year-old was never chosen, and I didn't know a single child from my north London primary school whose work was picked to hang in The Gallery, but I watched with hope. Years later, I took some comfort from hearing that in an interview with Radio 4's Front Row, the artist Damien Hirst revealed he had sent a picture in for Hart's wall as a young boy, which never made it on to the telly.
Now the children's television national treasure is with us no longer, it would be fascinating for the BBC to study the archives of the works by viewers which were sent in to Take Hart. Perhaps they'll discover a few surprises.Reuse content