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Thursday, May 6, 1999 Published at 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK


TV naturalist Johnny Morris dies

Johnny Morris was an extremely popular television figure

The much-loved naturalist and broadcaster Johnny Morris has died aged 82.

The BBC's Nick Higham: "He capitvated generations of children"
He was probably best known as the star of the BBC television programme Animal Magic, which ran for 21 years and more than 400 editions.

Two generations of children were captivated by his rapport with the show's animal stars including, most memorably, Dottie the ring-tailed lemur.

Before that he had been the Hot Chestnut Man, telling children's stories on television for eight years. He was also known for his many travel programmes, including Johnny's Jaunts on radio and television.

TV comeback

[ image: Johnny Morris demonstrated against the building of the Newbury by-pass]
Johnny Morris demonstrated against the building of the Newbury by-pass
TV naturalist Terry Nutkins, who worked with Morris on Animal Magic, told Sky News: "He was just, for want of a better word, a magic person.

"He was very sensitive, he watched people very carefully and that was why he became so successful with the animals, because he watched people and he related people to animals and animals to people.''

He added: "He will be a great loss. He was a living legend, Johnny Morris."

Peter Salmon, Controller of BBC One, said: "Johnny Morris was a TV pioneer.

Dr John Gibbs: "He loved animals however you presented them, as long as it was sympathetic"
"He created a style all of his own - a distinctive and unique voice which combined humour, humanity and insight. Generations of children simply enjoyed learning from him."

Morris had been in a nursing home after collapsing with a mystery illness in March, when he was about to star in a new animal series, Wild Thing, on ITV.


Filming for the new series was postponed when Morris, a diabetic, collapsed at his home in Hungerford, Berks.

The widower, who lost wife Eileen 10 years ago, was admitted to Swindon's Princess Margaret Hospital for tests.

But although daughter-in-law Cherry Monro said he had been ill for a while she had reassured fans that he was "on the road to recovery".

Morris made his first broadcast in 1946, and before long he had a regular radio show, Pass the Salt, broadcast from the BBC's West Region.

Animal Magic was dropped in 1984, when the idea of giving animals human qualities fell out of favour.

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07 May 99 | UK
Friends mourn 'magic' Johnny Morris

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