Jack Parnell, who was bandleader on "The Muppet Show" for its five-year run, has died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 87.

During his career, Parnell was also musical director on "The Benny Hill Show."

He joined the Ted Heath jazz band after World War II, and became a bandleader himself in 1951. From the mid '50s, he was musical director at ATV, which operated the ITV channel in the U.K. He remained in the role for 26 years.

Parnell composed theme tunes, worked on the flagship "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" show and produced specials featuring Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand. The 1973 show "Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments" won him two Emmys.

"The Muppet Show" ran from 1976 to 1981. Parnell was never seen during the show - the puppet character Nigel was portrayed as the show's bandleader.

Parnell died at his home in Suffolk on Sunday (Aug. 8).