There's a bear in there
July 11, 2016 1:02 PM   Subscribe

And a chair as well! There's people with games and stories to tell. It's Play School. The much loved Australian children's television program celebrates 50 years on the air.

The official site (autoplay audio).
posted by adept256 (15 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The British version started two years earlier, although unfortunately it ended in 1988.
posted by pipeski at 1:39 PM on July 11, 2016

Note, this post is about the Australian spin-off of a BBC show.
My mum was fired from the BBC show after being bitten by a small exotic animal live on air and saying A Bad Word in front of the nation's small children.
I am not making that up.
posted by w0mbat at 1:44 PM on July 11, 2016 [22 favorites]

I was born in '82 so I grew up in the era of Noni Hazlehurst singing the Ning Nang Nong and Don Spencer playing the Penguin Strut. We were too early for the Wiggles but we had the far superior Peter Combe.
posted by Talez at 1:49 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

"It's now become this kind of cultural heirloom that people feel confident about putting their children in front of it," he said. "They know that they'll be entertained, but they know that they'll be exposed to some really sound values around respect, acceptance of difference and cooperation. Who you are is not only enough, but it's fantastic, Play School invites everyone to celebrate that."

I love Play School. I remember my mum used to say something similar about the values conveyed by the show, and now being a parent myself I really love that element to the show. But something that has changed I think is the cultural heirloom aspect: I can share Play School with my kids in a way that she couldn't, because the show I used to watch as a kid is recognisably the same one as the show they watch now. Presenters may have changed, and the show is more demographically inclusive than it was, but the essential features of the show are all still there - my kids and I were equally excited at seeing photos of the windows exhibit. Sadly they do not share my love of the Rocket Clock, though they agreed that the idea of a rocket clock cake is inherently cool.
posted by langtonsant at 2:03 PM on July 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

My kid just got old enough to find Play School interesting (I actually caught her dancing and making dinosaur roars along with it the other day for the first time) so when I decide to be a shit mom and distract her with TV, it's a good option. I'm American so I never had it growing up, but as the existential horror that is ABC Kids goes, I find it mostly unoffensive and I'm usually pretty entertained to watch the actors try not to crack up when they stuff something up. Have today's 50th Anniversary special episode on as we speak. Yay Play School!
posted by olinerd at 3:05 PM on July 11, 2016

In Canada, Play School was adapted into Polka-Dot Door.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:23 PM on July 11, 2016

When I was a kid, Play School and US-import Sesame Street were the two pillars of toddler television. As a Dad I got to revisit both over the last few years, and I can say that Play School now puts Sesame Street well in the shade.

Happy 50th Play School!
posted by jjderooy at 4:46 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Play School will still sometimes entrance my 7 year old - the stories are SO well told, and there's always something interesting happening. I love the diversity too - being able to see people like those in her family and friend circle and neighbourhood is SO important. I love Sesame Street too, even if the diversity doesn't reflect our locale, it's still important and useful.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:11 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Happy 50th Play School! Benita, John and Noni were my childhood presenters. We adopted a stray cat who turned up at the laundry door in a bitter Canberra winter (who incidentally turned out to be pregnant and had seven kittens in the laundry THAT NIGHT); my parents asked two year me to name her so we had Jemima the cat.

Also, Trisha Goddard was a presenter when I was a bit older. She was also the first black news presenter, groundbreaking in Australia then returned to the UK to do a Jerry Springer-lite talk show. In recent decades Play School has certainly had a diverse cast, which is great to see.

On preview: right on, geek anachronism!
posted by goo at 5:16 PM on July 11, 2016

Play School will still sometimes entrance my 7 year old

Huh. We've got a 10-year old who complains bitterly about Play School when Mrs Jimbob turns the TV on in the afternoon for our 8-month old daughter. He complains bitterly, then sits down with his eyes glued.
posted by Jimbob at 6:34 PM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

The main problem with Sesame Street is they no longer do this.
posted by Jimbob at 6:35 PM on July 11, 2016

Die, Hamble, die.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:42 AM on July 12, 2016

Be kind to Hamble. She's older than I am and is probably gassing out questionable plastic softeners as we speak. I was scared shitless of her as a babe but I'll be damned if anyone will hang shit on that squished faced wax blobkin on my watch.

I have been brought to unreasonable levels of delight in seeing Benita in all the promo stuff the ABC has been releasing about this. She looks like a Good Witch.
posted by Jilder at 4:21 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

As a middle-brow at best consumer of the arts, it always pleased me no end to see play school presenters in the theatre or TV/film.
I guess it is a factor of the historically low pay in the arts, but why not have some of our good actors doing kids shows too!
Much better than the endless 3rd rate cgi "cartoons" on ABC3 these days that share their low production costs with their flaccid audience numbers.
posted by bystander at 7:27 AM on July 12, 2016

Play school was the only television I was allowed to watch as a tiny person. Noni 'vs' Benita was a controversial topic. John was obviously the favourite male host.

There's a bunch of stuff on iview, including Big Ted's Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School which is definitely worth a watch. Also Lee Lin Chin storytelling the Emperor's New Clothes with Big Ted as the Emperor.
posted by kjs4 at 7:29 AM on July 12, 2016

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