Entertainer Andy Cunningham, who was best known as the creator and star of children’s TV show Bodger And Badger, has died at the age of 67.
Cunningham played handyman Simon Bodger in the series and voiced his companion, a beret-wearing talking badger with a love for mashed potatoes.
He died of cancer at Royal Sussex County Hospital on Monday, his sister Tessa confirmed.
The show ran on the BBC from 1989 to 1999.
Ms Cunningham said: “’Andy lived to be loved and to make people laugh - starting with me, his little sister.
“He had a quicksilver brain, a rebellious attitude, boundless compassion particularly for the underdog, unstinting levels of generosity and, of course, a passion for mashed potato.
“I adored him and, long before he found fame, was immensely proud to have the funniest, cleverest big brother in the universe.’
Born on May 13 1950, Cunningham read English at Cambridge University before finding fame on children’s television.
He gave comedian Julian Clary his first job when he was writing and directing shows for the Covent Garden Community Theatre Group and the pair remained friends.
He also worked as a puppeteer in the Star Wars film Return of the Jedi
Cunningham was in a long-term relationship with Jane Bassett, who played Mousey in Bodger and Badger.
While the couple separated many years ago, they remained close friends and she was with him when he died, along with his sister and nieces.
Cunningham is survived by his daughter Phoebe Poole, 33.
Fans paid tribute on Twitter, with Ben Gosling writing: “RIP Andy Cunningham. A legend of children’s entertainment and staple of many a childhood (mine included)! Thanks for the laughs #RIP.”
Tasha wrote: “Bit of my childhood gone. Rest in peace Andy Cunningham. #BodgerAndBadger”, while Joseph Willits said: “Oh no, this is awful news. Andy Cunningham, creator of Bodger and Badger has died. A childhood hero.”