“Sometimes I wondered if people realised how talented Tony really was. There were always lots of TV tricks you could use, but Tony never did – he walked on with his sketch pad, put it down on the desk and started sketching. He was really an inspiration.” - Margot Wilson, Hartbeat. -
Hart Beat followed 'Take Hart' and was updated as well as introducing storylines and other co-presenters including Margot Wilson , Joanna Kirk , Gabrielle Bradshaw and Liza Brown . It included animation and more practicalk approaches to technique. Hart Beat was a much more 'grown up' version of Tony's TV appearances.
Hart Beat pulled in some 5 million viewers in its day, and was repeated in the late 1980s. Again, the Gallery was still an important part of the show. Mr Bennett continued to cause mayhem until finally being replaced by tea lady Elvira Muckett played by Amanda Swift .
By the time the series ended, Tony was already 69 but continued to work for the BBC for another six years with 'Tony Hart's Artbox Bunch' (95-96), 'Morph TV' (97), 'On Your Marks' (98), and finally 'Smart Hart' with Kirsty O'Brien (99/2000) before semi-retiring and concentrating almost full-time on charity auctions.
He continued to work even after his first stroke, but a second stroke proved more debilitating, affecting his speech and both his arms which effectively put paid to his wonderful drawing skills. Tony said at the time that the limitation was the biggest cross he had to bear but he remained cheerful and was still making appearances (with support from Roc) until trips to hospital became more frequent and needed care at home.
Tony died in the early hours of the 18th January 2009 at his home in Shamley Green, Surrey, aged 83. He left one daughter, Carolyn, and two grandchildren, Hattie and Alistaire, as well as millions of children the world over, who were enthralled by his gentle nature, beautiful voice and enormous talent.
"I only hope that my programmes do not become outdated, and that they may one day be shown to future generations of creative young people. That would be very nice, even if it does sound self-satisfied." - Tony Hart 1925-2009fake rolex