My Dolphin Drawing From Tony Hart

First up for what’s on my office shelf

Is it acceptable to call something your pride and joy if you had to wipe the dust off it before you could take a photo? I reckon so. After all, my lack of interest in keeping up with the dusting does not detract from this masterpiece.

Behold:

My very own Tony Hart drawing — 1994

Hart Beat — not a show about mild murder in the countryside.

Alas, I have not cared for it properly, and the colours are fading in a predictable way that I did not predict. I should really reframe it or do whatever people do to protect ‘old’ stuff. Nevertheless…

Somewhere around 1990, maybe even earlier, I watched a genius TV programme called Hart Beat — the children's TV show, not a show about mild murder in the countryside. It was hosted by a thoroughly nice chap called Tony Hart, who was the UK’s equivalent to Bob Ross.

This was in the days when there were only four TV channels and, between 3:30 pm and 6:00 pm, everyone in the country had to watch children’s TV shows unless you were into the snooker on BBC2. I’m talking about top quality Blue Peter, Count Duckula, Danger Mouse and Byker Grove type telly.

Anyway, Tony was drawing or chatting to Morph or some such artistic activity, and I noticed on the wall behind him was the most awesome black and white poster of dolphins I had ever seen. I was about 12 years old-ish, I reckon. I can’t actually remember the image now, but I was so entranced that I took it upon myself to write to the show to directly ask for it. I clearly had no shame.

Scroll forward four or five years, and I got a letter from the man himself! I don’t think I have it anymore, and if I do, it’s in a box underneath an enormous pile of things that I don’t intend to ever investigate until we have to move house.

The letter explained that when they recently cleared the studio, two or three sacks of unread mail had been found. Tony was apologetic about not having replied before, but he was now working his way through every letter and personally replying to them all. What a thoroughly heart-warming guy.

He’d included this drawing of the dolphin with yet another apology that he had no idea what happened to the original poster I had admired so much, but that he hoped this would be some consolation. I was now 16-ish years old and too cool for school, but even my teen-addled brain could appreciate the wonder that was ‘an actual drawing from Tony Hart’.

I put the drawing into this totally inadequate clip-frame where it has remained with me on a shelf, including at university. I think it’s time for it to be reframed, treated with the reverence it deserves, and promoted to the wall.

PS — The marvellous Tony Hart died in 2009, aged 83. He’d retired in 2001 after an impressive 50-year career on various art programmes. Rest in peace, sir.

Please consider submitting your own shelf item stories for this publication. I’d love to hear tales about trinkets, gossip about gadgets, and parables about paperbacks.

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The year 2020 brought the inside of people’s homes out into the world. There are numerous interesting things on everyone’s shelves so here are some of their stories, (incidentally @ratemyskyperoom on Twitter rates the rooms of public figures and is worth a follow!)

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Dawn Roberts

Dawn Roberts

Curious, animal-lover, chocolate-eater, gardener, engineer, procrastinator, star-gazer, wife, vegan, too short to reach biscuits in the top kitchen cupboard.

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