Children’s presenter, Brian Cant dies aged 83

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Brian Cant, children’s presenter best known for BBC’s Play School, passed away on Monday 19th June 2017 at the age of 83.

Cant presented Play School for 21 years from 1964 and Play Away for 13 years from 1971.  His agent announced that he had been living at Denville Hall, a well-known retirement home often preferred by those in the entertainment business.  His family have released a statement saying that “He lived courageously with Parkinson’s disease for a long time.”

The presenters career began on Play School where his audition involved climbing into a cardboard box.  He later went on to star in ITV’s Dappledown Farm and was a guest presenter on the beloved show Jackanory.

He was known to millions through his voicing of popular shows including Trumpton on which he had his most famous line of “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub” – the fire brigade call out.  He was also a star of Camberwick Green and Chigley which were recorded in a cupboard.

Fellow Play School star, Floella Benjamin, has told BBC News that Cant: “was totally devoted to making children happy – he introduced children to comedy with zany jokes and his funny sketches” she then went on to describe him as a “comedy genius”.  The baroness has said that she loved working with Cant and that they “bounced off one another [and]thought of new ideas to do”.

Many other famous friends have taken to social media to pay tribute to the late presenter.  Derek Griffiths (Play School co-presenter and former Coronation Street star) posted a reunion picture of the team and Sir Tony Robinson (Blackadder) wrote that “Brian Cant was [his]mentor and friend on Play Away.  [They] wrote and performed together for two years.  Always patient, courteous and funny P-L-A-Y-R-I-P.”

Upon receiving a special Children’s Bafta award in 2010 for his work Cant said that, “One of the main rules of those Play School days was that [they]should play to the camera as though [they]were talking to one child, in whatever circumstance.  It could be somebody in a tower block, a nice semi-detached somewhere, or a Royal palace.  [They] had to phrase everything so, whoever was watching it, they felt [they]were talking to them.”  It is this attitude that made the star so beloved and that will leave the millions who grew up watching him so bereft by his passing.

Watch a clip of Brian Cant in a trailer for Play Away that aired on the 28th October 1974.

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MChem Chemistry www.katjastout.co.uk

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