Play School presenter Brian Cant dies aged 83

Co-stars Floella Benjamin and Derek Griffiths have paid tribute to his "comedy genius"

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Children’s TV presenter Brian Cant has died at the age of 83.

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He will be fondly remembered for his 21 years at the helm of BBC’s Play School from 1964, as well as 13 years presenting sister show Play Away.

The TV star passed away at his retirement home after a long illness. A family statement said: “He lived courageously with Parkinson’s disease for a long time.”

It was Play School that gave Cant his first big break. During the audition he was asked to climb into a cardboard box for the brand-new show which would go on to make him a children’s TV favourite for the next few decades.

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Cant was also a guest presenter on Jackanory and appeared in ITV’s Dappledown Farm (1990-2003). 

Aside from TV appearances, his voice is instantly familiar to millions thanks to his narration of well-loved puppet series Trumpton, including the famous fire brigade roll call “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub.”

His pioneering career in television was recognised with a special Children’s Bafta award in 2010. 

Baroness Floella Benjamin, who worked alongside Cant as a Play School presenter in the 70s, said her late co-star was a “comedy genius”.

She told the BBC: “He was totally devoted to making children happy – he introduced children to comedy with zany jokes and his funny sketches.”

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Coronation Street’s Derek Griffiths, who co-presented Play School from 1971-1981, wrote in a post on social media: “Goodbye, Brian Cant. You’ll be missed by many. Thanks for the laughs”.