For those of a certain vintage, Basil Brush was - and remains - an iconic British character; a tweed-wearing, charismatic fox with a memorable "boom boom" catchphrase.
From pulling in audiences of 15 million viewers on prime-time BBC in the 1970s to performing at a private party to celebrate Prince William's fifth birthday at Kensington Palace in 1987, he remains instantly recognisable.
Yet the man who devised the comic creation, providing his distinctive voice and, ahem, offering him a 'helping hand' remains, to this day, almost entirely unknown.
Ivan Owen, who grew up in Kent, passed away 20 years ago this autumn. Basil had made him a millionaire and one of the entertainment world's key figures, but as devoted as he was to the wily fox, he was equally determined not to share in his limelight.
He avoided his photograph being taken especially not with Basil.
But KentOnline can now shed light on the man who played a pivotal role in Basil's life and reveal what he looked like - and how a chance meeting with one of Kent's most celebrated artists would create a character who would rub shoulders with the biggest names in show business.
In a rare interview, Ivan Owen's son, Jonathan Owen, 60, reveals his father's desire to keep out of view to ensure Basil was the only one out of the two to have a public persona.
He explains: "My father didn't want to break the magic.
"Most of his reasoning was that he wanted to keep the magic of no-one knowing there was someone behind Basil.
"My father was Basil's 'right hand man' - and my father was right-handed - so that always the best way of describing it.
"Enough time has now passed for Dad to get some recognition for being behind that original Basil."
Ivan Owen was born in Dulwich, in south London, in 1927 but was brought up and lived in Dartford until he was a teenager.
He would recall tales to his children of playing on the Thames foreshore at Dartford with his brother while watching German bombers fly up the river to drop their deadly loads on the capital and its docks during the Second World War.
While growing up, his family would take him on holidays to the likes of Whitstable and Dungeness.
After leaving school he became a machinist at aircraft manufacturer Handley Page before national service, in the RAF.
During which time he became focused on acting for a living. It was a path which would eventually lead him to Associated Rediffusion - the company which would launch the first ITV service in 1955.
He joined in 1956 and by the early 1960s became the man behind the puppet Fred Barker, a shaggy dog, who along with the owl Ollie Beak would present children's TV shows. Also featuring was Muriel Young who performed alongside the then-hugely popular Pussy Cat Willum.
And it was there he was introduced to the artist Peter Firmin. Firmin had recently set up Smallfilms, a production company with collaborator Oliver Postgate, based in Firmin's home in Blean, near Canterbury.
Ivan had already envisaged how he wanted his creation to be, and come up with the name, so it was back to Blean where Firmin worked his customary magic to create a puppet who would channel a very particular personality.
"Dad loved Terry Thomas [the British comedian and actor] and he wanted the puppet to give over that air, that Englishness, and so that's where the gap in Basil's teeth came in," explains Jonathan.
"My dad's voice was not all that dissimilar to Basil's. We grew up with him and never thought he sounded anything like him, but friends would come round and say he sounds exactly like Basil Brush."
Peter Firmin would retain a stake in the Basil character and was often called upon to carry out repairs over the course of the years to that original puppet. But the rest was all Ivan, with Basil's quips created by scriptwriter George Martin, who also worked with the likes of Tommy Cooper, Dave Allen and Jimmy Tarbuck.
After Basil first appeared as a character on Rediffusion's The Three Scampies, he went on to be the support act for the magician David Nixon on the BBC - proving such a hit the Beeb gave him his own show.
And from 1968 to 1980 the Basil Brush Show became a staple for young and old alike in its early Saturday evening slot.
Allowing additional cover for Ivan was the introduction of Basil's string of stooges - actors who appeared alongside the star of the show and earned themselves 'Mr' status. Likely Lads star Rodney Bewes was the first (Mr Rodney), followed by Yes Minister's Derek Fowlds (Mr Derek), actor Roy North, Howard Williams and Billy Boyle.
"People used to think the actors controlled Basil," explains Jonathan, "but that was never the case. Although you'd think that was obvious seeing as you could see both of their hands."
It's easy to forget quite how big a star Ivan Owen's creation became during the period - and not just in the UK.
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all lapped up Basil's quips.
And Ivan ensured his family enjoyed his success.
Explains Jonathan: "We went on all of his summer and winter tours - around the world. Basil was massive in all of the Commonwealth countries.
"Basil's first summer season was in Margate, I think it was in 1969 or 1970, and we hired a house in Broadstairs for the duration.
"I remember in the winter of 1970-71, Basil was in the panto at the London Palladium with Leslie Crowther, Terry Scott and Cilla Black.
"In 1975 we toured New Zealand for three months and sold out every venue. My dad was treated like royalty.
"It was a bizarre life we led with Basil.
"Dad would take us on tour throughout our school years until it was exam time. He thought it was not right him going off on his own and wanted to take his family with him. so we would always rent a flat or a house for the panto or summer season.
"Dad loved the character - loved every bit of Basil. But, funnily enough, he would never watch his own programmes. He was a perfectionist and he would see faults. So like a lot of performers, he didn't want to see his actions on film."
And nor did he broadcast his involvement in the show to all and sundry.
"When we were young he shied away from talking about it totally," adds his son.
"I think because he had humble beginnings, he was never one for show and as a family we are all the same - we all kept quite quiet about it and still do now, to be honest.
"Whenever I would change school I wouldn't tell anyone until something slipped or one of one good friends, who had met Basil, would say something, then it would come out."
While having plenty of friends within the world of show business, an offer to join the celebrated Grand Order of the Water Rats (whose alumni included the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Will Hay), was turned down as Ivan looked to keep his feet on the ground.
But Basil's star continued to rise. Stars on his show included the cast of Dad's Army and Swedish supergroup Abba.
"At his height, which was around 1977-80," says Jonathan, "he was drawing in 14-15million viewers. The only shows above that were the likes of Coronation Street and Morecambe and Wise."
But Basil's bubble was burst in 1980 when a dispute with the BBC saw his show pulled at the height of his popularity.
"Dad wanted to be on after the news on a Saturday evening," Jonathan explains. "He wanted to play to that older generation as well as children. But the BBC pigeon-holed it as a children's show.
"So there was a stand-off and my Dad, being a strong man, said 'OK I'm off'. It brought to an end unbroken TV from 1968 to 1980."
But his popularity continued - notably within the royal family who were big fans.
Ivan's son, who lives in Hampshire, explains: "I was working with Dad as a stage-hand during the late Eighties, and in 1987 were invited to Kensington Palace to put on a private show.
"We spent the whole day with Princess Diana and then eventually did William's fifth birthday party in front of the Queen, the Queen Mother, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, the King and Queen of Greece, I think the Prince of Spain - it was a who's who of royalty in Europe, all there, in a private room, in Kensington Palace.
"The royals loved Basil."
As the Eighties drew to a close, demand for Basil began to lessen.
While appearing frequently on TV, the end of the original Basil came in 2000 when Ivan died after a battle with cancer.
"He was a very good, generous father," says Jonathan, one of his three children.
"He was a very jovial man, he loved throwing parties at our house and at the BBC.
"He was, however, very quiet about his own life. There was something there - a bit of torment. He came from a broken family and I think that weighed heavily on him.
"But he was massively proud of what he had achieved."
Upon his death, the original Basil puppet was retired.
"We still have the original," says Jonathan. "There was a rehearsal puppet Peter made which dad nicknamed Fred, but he never quite looked the same as Basil. Those of us who knew him well could instantly tell.
"The original Basil, made in late 1962, does come out occasionally. I took him to Derek Fowlds funeral in February."
Basil continues, however.
After Ivan signed a lease deal for his creation shortly before his death, the new rights owner launched a new Basil Brush Show in 2002 which ran on the BBC for five years and was filmed at the Maidstone Studios.
Now with Ivan's children once again owning the feisty fox, the family is ensuring their father's legacy lives on - and continues to entertain.
"We did the Edinburgh Fringe last year," says Jonathan, "and we sold out every show - we did a family show and an Unleashed show for an older audience; it was a bit more risque.
"We were about to do another run this year but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. In fact we had a full year of appearances for 2020 planned but they're all now off."
He even performed at the Glastonbury Festival on three occasions and was due to perform again for its 50th this summer.
Basil is no stranger to Kent either - he's performed at the Hops 'n' Harvest Beer Festival in recent years - and continues to ride a wave of nostalgia.
So would Ivan be surprised, almost 60 years on, to see his Basil still such a regular on the entertainment circuit?
"I think so," says Jonathan, who has spent his life as an illustrator and designer, despite once getting kicked out of art college for being a punk, "and I think he'd be proud his children are guiding him.
"I know both my children and my brother's children are keen to get involved at some point. They don't want us to let him go.
"I'm sure Basil has still got many years of entertaining left in him. He'll see me off, I'm sure."