45 years young, and still entertaining and educating millions of children and parents alike.
I grew up in an area where we had only 2 television channels – the ABC and a regional commercial station. As the eldest of four kids I got to see my fair share of children’s programming, but nothing sticks in my mind like Play School. People with my accent, reading me (and my siblings) stories; playing games with us; building things; making craft; learning to tell the time… And John Hamblin ad-libbing story after story.
Part of the success with Play School has been the host’s ability to not talk down to their audience. It’s a fine line between conversation and being patronising and successful Play School presenters have always talked with the children. With a delightful near-continuous soundtrack of live piano and the hosts willing to break into song at any moment you never know what you’re going to get – other than a fun time.
The toys have been just as an important part of the Play School experience – Big Ted, Humpty, Little Ted, Jemima, et al have always been incorporated into the fun as characters, extras and common friends through the years. With an introduction animating the characters they continue to live bright in the memories of the Play School-educated generation – old and young.
Just how the show has entered the national psyche is no more evident than this first example of Play School at it’s finest, and the second reinforcing the connection the presenters have with us long after they’ve left the show (in any situation).
Happy 45th Birthday Play School. May you have many, many more years for the benefit of generations to come.
Play School – Mon-Fri 3pm, ABC1.
Repeats on ABC2.