b. 26 December 1941, Oxford, England. Although she is best remembered for her work during the 70s on the popular UK children’s series Play School and Play Away, the multi-talented Toni Arthur also recorded a series of excellent folk albums with her then husband Dave Arthur, and is an acclaimed author, folklorist and theatre director.
Toni studied voice and piano at the Royal Academy of Music before an abrupt change in career direction saw her begin training to be a nurse. She met Dave Arthur on London’s burgeoning folk club scene and shortly afterwards the couple married and relocated to Oxford to run a university bookshop. They began performing together at local folk clubs and in the late 60s and early 70s recorded a number of excellent traditional albums for the Transatlantic and Topic Records labels. The most notable of these was 1970’s Hearken To The Witches’ Rune, with Toni’s multi-octave voice adding a sinister edge to an album inspired by the couple’s interest in pagan religion and witchcraft.
During the 70s the couple toured the world performing song, dance, drama and storytelling, and lecturing on various aspects of folklore. In the same period Toni regularly appeared on the BBC children’s programmes Playschool and Play Away, alongside presenters including Brian Cant, Johnny Ball, Floella Benjamin, and Derek Griffiths. In 1976, she launched her own series, Take A Ticket To …, on which Dave helped out with music and research. She also made guest appearances on short-lived programmes such as Sing-A-Song-Playground, Seeing And Doing and Star Turn.
Toni and Dave Arthur continued to collaborate in later decades despite the ending of their marriage. Toni also wrote a number of popular children’s books including the compendium of games, customs and stories, All The Year Round. In the new millennium she found a new vocation as a director at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.