Friday, May 7, 1999 Published at 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
Tributes for a TV 'pioneer'
Johnny Morris perfected a range of different voices for Animal Magic
Johnny Morris has been hailed as a television pioneer, as tributes flood in for the naturalist and BBC broadcaster.
He was set for a TV comeback with a new series on ITV, and had filmed a few scenes at Hampshire's Marwell Zoo before he fell ill.
A spokeswoman for the programme, to be called Wild Thing, said: "We were really looking forward to working with Johnny and we were desperately sad to hear the news.
TV naturalist Terry Nutkins, who worked with Morris on the long-running Animal Magic, said: "He was just, for want of a better word, a magic person."
The Controller of BBC One, Peter Salmon, described Morris as a TV pioneer.
"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," he said.
Robin Hellier, who directed Animal Magic, said Morris was a remarkable broadcaster.
"He had an intuitive understanding of animals and he managed to communicate his fascination for them and their behaviour in a unique style that will long be remembered," he said.
Zoologist and fellow television presenter Desmond Morris - who was not related to Johnny - said: "His humour was infectious and you simply couldn't help but enjoy yourself in his company.''
He added: "He had warmth which got across to children, and he used a technique which was rather like Disney in seeming to make animals talk.''