Hero of our childhoods
Tributes to much-loved children’s television presenter Brian Cant
CHILDREN’S TV presenter Brian Cant has died at the age of 83.
He was best known for his work presenting BBC’s Play School for 21 years, a role which he started in 1964 and gave him his big break.
He had been living with Parkinson’s Disease since being diagnosed in 1999.
Born in Ipswich, Suffolk, in 1933, he had been living for many years in Chalfont St Giles but died at Denville Hall, a retirement home in Northwood, London.
His family released a statement on Monday June 19 confirming the sad news. The statement reads: “It is with great sadness that we, his family, have to announce that Brian Cant has died aged 83 at Denville Hall.
“He lived courageously with Parkinson’s Disease for a long time.
“Brian was best known and well-loved for his children’s programmes Play School and Play Away and was honoured by Bafta in 2010.”
Trained as a printer, in the early 60s Brian decided to get into acting and at an audition was asked to sit in a cardboard box and row across the floor, which led to his role on Play School.
Brian will also be remembered for providing the voices on the animated series Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley narrating the tales of Windy Miller, Chippy Minton and PC McGarry along with the famous roll call of “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb.”
He topped a poll of the nation’s best-loved voice on children’s television in 2007, and also featured in a number of roles on stage and screen.
The world of celebrity mourned his loss, and social media was awash with tributes to him.
Presenter Zoe Ball wrote: “Dear Brian Cant. Love this pic of him and Tony Robinson filming for #playaway in 70s hero of my childhood.” Actress, author and businesswoman Floella Benjamin, who presented Play School in the 1970s, said: “Brian Cant, a comedy genius who devoted his life to making kids laugh & entertaining them with his brilliance. Loved working with him. RIP x.”
Brian married writer and director Cherry Britton in 1984 and they had three children.
Brian Cant as Heinz beanz in Play Away in 1983. Left, Brian with Julie Stephens and Humpty on the set of Play School