It was reported that Cant – who starred on Play School for 21 of its 24 year run – passed away earlier today.
Cant’s family said of the star: “He lived courageously with Parkinson’s disease for a long time.”
He died at Danville Hall, which is a retirement home often used by those in the entertainment industry.
As the tragic news emerged online, tributes immediately began to pour in.
One person posted: “Only one Brian Cant. RIP.”
“Rest in Peace Brian. A gentle man, for a more gentle time. Playaway mate, Playaway. #BrianCant,” a second wrote.
A third shared: “Oh no. Not Brian Cant. That’s terribly sad news.”
Cant’s involvement with Play School – which ran from 1964 to 1988 – came as he was performing in BBC Schools Drama television programmes about the Romans for the Corporation.
At his audition, Cant – who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1999 – was asked by programme creator and the series’ first producer Joy Whitby to get in a cardboard box and pretend to ‘row out to sea’.
He was eventually cast as a presenter and first appeared on the third week in May 1964, and stayed with the programme for the majority of the run, becoming ‘Mr Play School’.
His involvement in the much-loved show led directly to his work on three linked Gordon Murray puppet series: Camberwick Green (1966), Trumpton (1967), and Chigley (1969). Later he hosted or co-hosted the programmes Play Away (1971–84), and Bric-A-Brac (1980–82) for slightly older children.
From 1990-2003, Cant starred as ‘Brian’ the farmer in the children’s television puppet programme Dappledown Farm, as well as providing the voice for one of the characters; Harry the Heron.
Cant was also the storyteller of the UK version of Jay Jay the Jet Plane, and the narrator for the popular Canadian children’s show Bruno.
As well as all of the above, the actor starred in the likes of Doctor Who (1965 and 1968), It’s a Knockout (1982), Doctors (2011) and films such as The Pleasure Girls (1965) and The Sandwich Man…