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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.

[ image: Johnny Morris protested against the Newbury by-pass]
Johnny Morris protested against the Newbury by-pass
"We very much enjoyed working with such a wonderful and unique talent who loved animals so much."

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.

[ image: He developed an incredible rapport with animals]
He developed an incredible rapport with animals
Mr Hellier, who is now production director of the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol, added: "Johnny made a major contribution to the high level of interest in the wildlife programmes still made by the unit."

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.''

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06 May 99 | UK
Naturalist who brought Animal Magic to millions

06 May 99 | UK
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