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Saturday, June 24, 2017
Lives remembered: Brian Cant 1933 - 2017
June 24, 2017
Brian Cant died after a long battle with Parkinson's disease
Cant played a role in the life of the nation’s children, presenting the BBC’s Play School for 21 years from 1964 and Play Away from 1971 to 1984.
He was also a guest presenter on Jackanory and appeared on ITV’s Dappledown Farm.
Brian Cant was born in Ipswich and educated at Northgate Grammar School and initially trained as a printer before deciding he would rather make his way as an actor instead.
He was working in BBC Schools drama television programmes on a project about the Romans when he heard that BBC2 was looking for people for a new children’s programme.
During the audition producer Joy Whitby asked him to get into a cardboard box and pretend to row out to sea.
He duly fished from the boat and caught a wellington boot full of custard.
The role was his. Although he became “Mr Play School”, he also did a great deal of work elsewhere.As well as Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley, and hosting programmes for slightly older children such as Bric-a-Brac, he worked as an actor.
In the 1960s he appeared in two Doctor Who stories, The Daleks’ Master Plan and The Dominators, and he also appeared in films including The Pleasure Girls, The Sandwich Man and A Feast At Midnight, which starred Christopher Lee.
There were also numerous stage appearances and he continued to work until relatively recently, in 2011 making his third appearance in the show Doctors. In 2007, Cant was named the best loved voice from children’s television. He was married first to Mary Gibson, from whom he was divorced and secondly to Cherry Britton, who he wed in 1984.
He had two sons from his first marriage and three children from his second.
In 1999 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and at the time of his death had been living in Denville Hall, a retirement home popular with entertainers.
The one thing he wanted children to take away from his work was, “that I made them laugh, I made them feel happy,” he said.