Tributes have been paid to the former children’s TV presenter Rick Jones, best known for hosting Play School and Fingerbobs, who has died from cancer. He was 84.
A generation of children grew up with Jones on TV, as he appeared on a variety of BBC children’s shows in the 1970s. His death was announced on Friday.
He began his career as part of the team fronting Play School, a daily programme for pre-school-age children, which featured him singing songs and playing his guitar.
He then was the mime artist “Yoffy” behind Fingerbobs. The 10-minute episodes featured paper finger-puppet characters, including Fingermouse and Gulliver the seagull, in different scenarios. There were only 13 episodes of the series, but they were repeated regularly for more than a decade.
Jones was born in February 1937 in London, Ontario in Canada. He moved to the US in later life, living in San Francisco with his wife, Valerie Neale.
A keen musician, he had success as a frontman and songwriter for the British country rock band Meal Ticket. Using his musical talents, Jones was one of the presenters who presented We Want to Sing.
He also wrote musicals, some of which ran in Hollywood. He worked with Roger Penycate on a musical based on the songs and lyrics of Meal Ticket, titled Laughing Daughter.
The musical had a three-week run in southern Maryland in September 2009.
Latterly he had produced music with Neale. An album, Life Drawing, was released in 2009. She revealed they had finished working on a music project the day before he died.
In a series of tweets, she said: “He died at home in my arms with his daughters close by. My heart is breaking. We had over 40 beautiful years together, and he was a light in so many people’s lives.”
In a post on Twitter, the author and illustrator Garry Vaux paid tribute to Jones: “I initially interviewed him for my book many years ago and we stayed in touch. He was a huge creative spirit, a talented musician and lover of life. I shall miss him greatly.”
The music critic Simon Price said: “We were good internet friends and I always hoped to meet him for real one day. It felt like he co-parented us, my generation.”