Bagpuss creator Oliver Postgate has died aged 83, his family has confirmed.
Postgate, who lived in Kent, created some of the best-loved children's TV series including Ivor the Engine, the Clangers and Noggin the Nog.
His work, screened on the BBC and ITV from the 1950s to the present day, was often in collaboration with the artist and puppeteer Peter Firmin.
In a poll earlier this year, Bagpuss, a saggy pink cloth cat, was voted the best TV animal of all-time.
Postgate's partner, Naomi Linnell, confirmed he died at a nursing home near his home in Broadstairs in Kent on Monday.
Friend and colleague, Sandra Kerr, has been paying tribute to "a creative and eccentric talent".
Ms Kerr, the voice of the mice in Bagpuss, said they had so much fun working together, their giggles can be heard on the Bagpuss soundtrack.
Asked where his inspiration came from, she said: "Oliver said it himself, he was always a little boy.
"He and Peter just responded to that part of themselves they had never lost."
Conservative leader David Cameron told BBC Radio 5 Live that Ivor the Engine was his favourite of Postgate and Firmin's characters.
"I never really got the Clangers," he added. "My wife's a big Clangers fan - I never quite got that in the same way."
Postgate's work was popular with generations of children who loved the strangeness of the characters and the warmth of his story-telling.
The short animated films, which he would script and narrate, were created by Smallfilms production company, set up with Firmin.
The partners worked in a makeshift studio in a disused cowshed in Kent on a tiny budget often using home-made equipment.
Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a little Welsh steam engine who wanted to sing in a choir, was their first creation. The 1960s BBC series of Noggin the Nog about a baby-faced king of the race of Nogs followed.
The pair swiftly established themselves as reliable purveyors of children's entertainment, in the days when there were just two channels and children's television occupied a privileged teatime slot.
'Praise and encouragement'
Describing the commissioning process, Postgate said: "We would go to the BBC once a year, show them the films we'd made, and they would say, 'Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?'"
"We would tell them, and they would say, 'That sounds fine, we'll mark it in for 18 months from now', and we would be given praise and encouragement and some money in advance, and we'd just go away and do it."
Only 13 episodes of Bagpuss were made in 1974, but were regularly repeated until 1987.
London-born Postgate made his last film in 1987, complaining that children's television commissioners were no longer interested in what he had to offer.
In October this year, the rights to many of his characters were bought by company Coolbai, which said it planned to introduce Bagpuss to a new generation.