Much-loved Children’s BBC personality Tony Hart has died aged 83.
He began his television career back in 1952 on the programme Saturday Special and remained on-screen in various programmes until he retired in 2001.
Artist Tony landed his role at the BBC quite by chance. After meeting a BBC producer at a party he demonstrated his artistic talent by drawing a fish on a napkin, and guest appearances on programmes such as Playbox followed.
In 1964 Hart was given his own series, Vision On which was initially devised to entertain and educate deaf children. The arrival of colour television in the late 60s gave the art shows more scope and a wider range of creativity evolved. In 1978 Tony fronted Take Hart and later Hartbeat – both shows regularly attracting decent audience figures for the Children’s BBC slot.
Tony continued to appear on the network until 2001, when he decided to retire. He had received two Bafta awards and millions of appreciative fans, over a career that spanned nearly fifty years.
As we reported in October last year Hart had recently spoken about how he’d given up being an artist entirely after suffering from two strokes. Speaking to The Times he commented:
“It has been my lifetime passion, but I endeavour to stay cheerful as there is nothing to be done about my condition. My whole life has changed since my strokes. After breakfast I would adjourn to my studio, built in my garden, until 4pm when I would change my shoes and set forth on a four-mile Gurkha-pace-jog through the Surrey hills.. ..Today my studio lies abandoned and I spend most of my day confined to my chair.”.
Top Tony Facts:
Having left school in 1944 Tony had wanted to join the RAF, however ended up in the Gurkhas; whom he served with in the final months of World War II.
Tony studied at the Maidstone College of Art and after graduating in 1950 found times were hard, at one point he admitted he would paint murals on restaurant or café walls for free, the only condition being he would be fed.
Hart gave Children’s BBC two iconic legends. First, he devised the Blue Peter logo and badge design; which is still in use today, and secondly gave life to Morph the small clay man who lived in Tony’s pencil case. Morph proved such a success he later had his own series.
Hartbeat attracted at its peak five and a half million viewers at teatime.
More information can be found at Tony’s official website: http://www.tonyhart.co.uk/