Good old Tony Hart. He was one of those BBC TV presenters who looked like a kindly old uncle, with his shock of white hair and his calm voice and mild mannered approach to teaching kids the basics of art. Watching him at work was always a pleasure, and like fellow artist Rolf Harris, he could create a stunning picture from a few simple lines with a thick black marker pen.
Every episode of Take Hart would teach you several new interesting ways of making a piece of art. Some were a bit messy or would be difficult to achieve on the often larger scale that Mr. Hart would work to. For example, painting a picture using paint rollers on a massive sheet of paper using emulsion paint was not the kind of thing your Mum and Dad would readily let you have a go at.
There were plenty of other things you could have a go at though, from the basics of drawing a simple cartoon character through to making three dimensional shapes out of drinking straws and cotton. These are the kind of things Tony taught you and made you want to have a go yourself.
There was also the chance for the viewers artwork to shine in the Gallery, a section of the show where several childrens pictures would be shown accompanied by a piece of soothing music. Each childs name and age would be displayed, with Tony giving the odd comment about how he liked the use of cotton wool to make clouds, or glued on sand to create a rough texture. At the end of this segment Tony would give the address to send your pictures to, stating that although they couldn’t be returned (a nice way of saying they would be binned I presume) there was a prize for any that were shown.
Last, but not least, Take Hart also introduced us to Morph, the brown plasticene man who live in a little wooden box on Tony’s desk. Morph was stop frame animated by Aardman Animations, better known for Wallace and Gromit.
Morph would come out of his little box, and normally got into some kind of trouble involving art materials. Tony would often have a conversation with him, despite the fact that Morph only spoke in a series of strange gutteral noises. Morph eventually got a companion called Chas who looked identical but was made from a greyish beige coloured plasticene. Chas was a bit of a trouble maker and Morph usually ended up coming worse off because of him. Morph proved so popular that he ended up getting his own series of five minute adventures.
Update: Tony Hart sadly passed away on January 19th 2009. Please see our obituary to this great artist and children’s presenter.