Play School (Australian TV series)
Play School logo (since 2011)
|Written by||Henrietta Clark|
|Presented by||See Presenters|
|Theme music composer||Richard Connolly (lyrics by Rosemary Milne)|
|Opening theme||"There's a Bear in There"|
|Ending theme||"There's a Bear in There" (instrumental)|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||49|
|No. of episodes||2,250 (approx.)|
|Executive producer(s)||Claire Henderson|
|Production location(s)||Australian Broadcasting Corporation Studios|
|Running time||25–30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1966–present)|
(Mornings: 18 July 1966 – 2 May 2011)
(Afternoons: 18 July 1966 – 31 January 2014)
(Early Mornings: 5 May 2014–29 June 2018)
(Mornings: 2 May 2011–present)
(Afternoons: 2 May 2011–present)
|Picture format||4:3 (1966–2003)|
|Original release||18 July 1966 –|
Play School is an Australian educational television show for children produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It is the longest running children's show in Australia, and the second longest running children's show worldwide, after Blue Peter.
An estimated 80% of pre-school children under six watch the programme at least once a week. It is screened three times each weekday on ABC Kids, at 9 am, 11:30 am and 3:30 pm (from 7 July 2014) and twice daily each weekend at 9 am and 3:30 pm.
In 2006, Play School was admitted to the Logies' Hall of Fame. The program celebrated 50 years of broadcasting in 2016. Many of the presenters remained with the series for lengthy periods, including Don Spencer (31 years), Benita Collings (30 years), John Hamblin (29 years), Alister Smart, (25 years), Noni Hazlehurst (23 years), John Waters (19 years) and Jan Kingsbury (15 years). While the show is written by preschool education experts, the presenters are all trained actors or musicians who can connect well with the target audience.
- 1 History
- 2 Format
- 3 Awards and nominations
- 4 Toys
- 5 Teachings
- 6 Controversy
- 7 Songs
- 8 Theme song
- 9 Logo history
- 10 Presenters
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Play School began production on 18 July 1966 (three years before Sesame Street), and was based on a British programme of the same name. The first episode began transmitting that day, as the programme went out live. It has been produced continuously from this time. It has also launched the careers of several Australian actors and television presenters. Diane Dorgan and Don Spencer are the only regular presenters to appear on both the British and Australian versions, although Lorraine Bayly appeared in September 1972 as a guest storyteller on BBC's Play School. It was admitted to the Logies' Hall of Fame on its 40th anniversary in 2006, in recognition of the strong influence the show has had on at least three generations of Australian children. Play School was the third show to enter the Hall of Fame in its own right, after Four Corners (1992) and Neighbours (2005). It was also the first children's show inducted into the Hall of Fame.
During the presentation of the Logie Awards, a package showing memorable scenes from the show throughout its history was shown, before notable presenters (from past and present) came onto the stage with some of the favourite toys from the show. After these presenters accepted the award, the audience then joined them for a stirring rendition of the Play School theme.
In 1992, a through-the-windows segment featured an early performance by the Australian children's musical group The Wiggles, performing the songs "Get Ready to Wiggle" and "Rock-a-Bye Your Bear" at a day care centre.
On Monday 4 July 2011, Play School updated its opening titles using a combination of stop motion and computer animation with a new arrangement of the theme song sung by presenters Jay Laga'aia and Justine Clarke.
In 2016, Play School celebrated 50 years on the air and had a month of celebrations.
50th Anniversary Play School Celebrity Covers
To mark this special occasion, from 4 July the program presented a series called Play School Celebrity Covers:
|4 July||8 am||Benita Collings & Don Spencer||"Teddy Bears' Picnic"|
|5 pm||Missy Higgins||"Three Little Fishies"|
|5 July||8 am||Carrie Bickmore||Family Forest|
|5 pm||Guy Sebastian||"Singing in the Rain"|
|6 July||8 am||Dan Sultan||"The Wheels on the Bus"|
|5 pm||Bernard Fanning||"Morningtown Ride"|
|7 July||8 am||Delta Goodrem||"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"|
|5 pm||Emma Wiggle||"There's A Bear In There"|
|8 July||8 am||John Hamblin||"I'm a Little Teapot"|
|5 pm||Kurt Fearnley & Rachael Coopes||"Going on a Bear Hunt"|
|9 July||8 am||Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales||"Singing in the Kitchen"|
|5 pm||Kate Ceberano & daughter Gypsy||"I like Peace, I like Quiet"|
|10 July||8 am||Costa Georgiadis||"Worm at the Bottom of my Garden"|
|5 pm||Caitlin Cooper, Ellie Carpenter and Michelle Heyman||"If You're Happy and You Know It"|
|11 July||8 am||Dami Im||"Over the Rainbow"|
|5 pm||Adam Goodes||"Counting Aussie Animals in My Backyard"|
|12 July||8 am||You Am I||"One Potato, Two Potato"|
|5 pm||Katie Noonan||"I Can Sing a Rainbow"|
|13 July||8 am||Tim Minchin||"The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek"|
|5 pm||Benita Collings & Don Spencer||"Little Peter Rabbit"|
|14 July||8 am||Magda Szubanski||"Old Mother Hubbard"|
|5 pm||Tim Omaji||"Rhythm"|
|15 July||8 am||Molly Meldrum & Charlie Pickering||"Nursery Rhyme News"|
|5 pm||Josh Thomas||"On the Ning Nang Nong"|
|16 July||8 am||Lee Lin Chin & Takaya Honda||"The Emperor's New Clothes"|
|5 pm||Architecture in Helsinki||"Big Bass Drum"|
|17 July||8 am||Jeremy Fernandez||"Five Cheeky Monkeys"|
|5 pm||Kate Miller-Heidke||"The Owl and the Pussycat"|
|18 July||8 am||The Umbilical Brothers||"Fairytale Mash-up"|
|5 pm||John Hamblin||"Old MacDonald Had a Farm"|
|19 July||8 am||Hamish & Andy||"There's a Hole in My Bucket"|
On 18 July at 6:30 pm ABC also broadcast a special 50th Anniversary Play School Celebrity Covers Special that featured Hamish & Andy singing "There's a Hole in my Bucket"; John Hamblin, "I'm a Little Teapot"; Dan Sultan, "The Wheels on the Bus"; Molly Meldrum and Charlie Pickering, "Nursery Rhyme News"; Delta Goodrem, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" & "Moon Moon"; Benita Collings & Don Spencer, "Teddy Bears Picnic"; Josh Thomas, "Ning Nang Nong"; Annabell Crabb and Leigh Sales, "Singing in the Kitchen"; Guy Sebastian, "Singing in the Rain"; Magda Szubanski, "Old Mother Hubbard"; and You Am I, "One Potato, Two Potato".
The format of the show is activities, songs and games with either host passing back to each other at the end of their segment, and frequently joining each other in activities. Each day the presenters look at the calendar to find out which day of the week it is, read a story, and look through the windows. From 1976 to 2000, they had a clock shaped like a rocket, and from 1966 to 2000, a clock shaped like a flower. Until 2000, the windows looked almost exactly like their British counterparts with a few slight differences. They changed the background behind the windows from black to white at the end of 1967 and they then changed it to light blue in 1985. In 1987 Play School had a mild makeover for its 21st anniversary on air; there was a mild cosmetic revamp to the set, with a new set of opening and closing titles with a new version of the theme song sung by presenters, Philip Quast and Jennifer Ludlam; the windows also changed to look like to ones used on the British version of the show, but this change was not well received and the windows reverted to their old style by 1988, which remained until the major 2000 revamp.
In 1992 there was a set revamp with new shelving and coloured tree shapes in the background; this change was done about midway through the 1992 production season, with earlier 1992 episodes retaining the older 1980s set.
Every week there is a common theme running through the programme that the actors reflect upon during the episode; themes include Dinosaurs, Opposites, Zoo Animals, Food, Clothes, Games, Art, Hair, Hats, Shapes, Road Safety and vehicles. Each theme (or block of five episodes) were repeated twice a year on average for a period of six to seven years, before it was recycled and reused in new episodes. As funding was limited, only 45 new episodes were made each year, which means that nine weekly blocks shown each year were new episodes, the rest repeats.
In 2000, the show had a massive revamp, with the rocket and flower clocks and the three windows put in storage[a] in favour of a newer style Play School. The main clock was now simply called the Play School Clock, which was controlled by one of the presenters standing at the top of the clock and turning a winding device, which caused the clue to the story to slide down a slippery dip. That was soon replaced by the Hickory Dickory Clock which featured clockwork resembling the "Hickory Dickory" nursery rhyme. That was soon replaced by the Train Clock which resembles a train station with a clock above it. The windows were also heavily changed. They were now built into a massive rotating prop which was built underneath the clock (shown one week) and 'controlled' by one of the presenters pulling a lever back and forwards. The windows (now including a diamond window) would spin around and would slowly be eliminated as the window they would look through until they got to the fourth window and the camera would slowly zoom in and fade out into the fill. The order in which they appear is Square~Diamond~Round~Arched~Square. That was soon replaced by windows with animation where Jemima stands next to the round window, Little Ted stands next to the square window, Big Ted stands next to the diamond window and Humpty stands next to the arched window and the window chosen goes through to pre-recorded footage.
The program had a musical director, who served as a pianist who played live music to accompany the presenters on each episode. Occasionally the pianist would make an on-camera appearance, one of the more well known being the late Warren Carr, who would serve as musical director for over 20 years. The pianists who worked on Play School over the years are:
- Bill Antman (1966–1972)
- Judy Bailey (1970s–1990)
- Penny Biggins (1991–1994)
- Warren Carr (1972–1993)
- Peter J Casey (1996–2004)
- Ron Creager (1998)
- Peter Dasent (2000–current)
- Rob Eastwood (2000) – after revamp
- Max Lambert (1991–1999, 2004)
- Paul McDermott (1991–1994)
- Brian Castles Onion (2003–2004)
- Lindsay Partridge (1994)
- Elliott Wilshier (1994–1999)
- Franky Valentyn (2000s)
- Stuart Hunter (2014-Current)
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominated artist and works||Award||Result||Lost to|
|2016||Play School||Best Children's Television Series||Nominated||Beat Bugs|
TV Week Logie Awards
|Year||Nominated works||Award||Result||Lost to|
|1992||Play School||Most Popular Children's Program||Nominated||Agro's Cartoon Connection|
|1998||Most Outstanding Achievement in Children's Television||Won||N/A|
|2000||Most Outstanding Children's Program||Nominated||Hi-5|
|2004||Most Outstanding Children's Preschool Program||Nominated|
|2006||Hall of Fame||Inducted||N/A|
|2014||Most Outstanding Children's Program||Nominated||Nowhere Boys|
ARIA Music Awards
|Year||Nominated works||Award||Result||Lost to|
|1995||Oomba Baroomba||Best Children's Album||Nominated||The Wiggles – Big Red Car|
|1997||In The Car||Won||N/A|
|2000||Hullabaloo||Nominated||Hi-5 – Jump and Jive with Hi-5|
|2003||Hip Hip Hooray||Nominated||Hi-5 – Celebrate|
|2011||Let's Play Together||Nominated||The Wiggles – Ukulele Baby!|
|2015||Favourite Things – Songs and Nursery Rhymes from Play School||Nominated||Sam Moran – Play Along with Sam: BOO!|
|2016||Famous Friends: Celebrating 50 Years of Play School||Nominated||The Wiggles – Wiggle Town!|
|Year||Nominated artist and works||Award||Result||Lost to|
|2014||ABC4Kids Play School Play Time||Best of Tablet – Entertainment ||Won||N/A|
- Big Ted (teddy bear) (1966–)
- Little Ted (teddy bear) (1966–)
- Hamble (plastic doll) (1966–1993)
- Jemima (rag doll) (1966–)
- Humpty (white egg-shaped toy with eyes, resembles Humpty Dumpty) (1966–)
- Slush (toy pig) (1970s-)
- Maurice (teddy bear) (1987–)
- Meeka (plastic doll) (1993–)
- Dan (plastic doll) (2010s)
- Jim (plastic doll) (1985-2000s)
- Scrap (toy dog)
- Diddle (toy cat) (1966–)
- Fergus (toy frog) (1994–)
- Sam the Lamb (toy lamb)
- Banana (toy banana, see also Bananas in Pyjamas) (1976–2010)
- Daisy (toy cow)
- Henny Penny (toy hen)
- Goosy Lucy (toy goose)
- Kim (plastic doll and Lisa's twin brother)
- Lisa (plastic doll and Kim's twin sister)
- Darcy (toy donkey)
- Troy and Tony (twin teddy bear)
- Owl (toy owl)
- Tippy (toy duck) (2011–)
- Mukundan Jr (toy lion)
- Fido (toy dog)
- Joey (toy kangaroo) Designed by award-winning children's book illustrator Bruce Whatley and introduced in the 50th anniversary edition 'Come To The Party' tx 18/7/16 by presenter Miranda Tapsell.
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From the inception of the programme, the producers of Play School have made efforts to promote equality, playful education, and a love of learning in its audience. Working on Play School has come to be considered an unusually demanding and important job for some actors, because they feel they are becoming part of a generation of children's lives and providing a foundation for learning things that will last for life.
Play School's stated philosophy is to encourage a child 'to wonder, to think, to feel and to imagine'. The duo (sometimes a trio when joined by hearing impaired actress Sofya Gollan) of presenters (now almost always a male-female pairing, but sometimes it is two females or two males) address the child directly and personally, so that every child watching the show feels that they are spending time with two people they know and can trust.
Into this relationship are woven the stories, songs, and activities that form the fabric of Australian children's culture.
On 31 May 2004, a 'through the window' segment was shown showing what was taken by the public to be two lesbians taking their child and her friend to an amusement park. A little girl, Brenna Harding, narrated the clip, stating "My Mums are taking me and my friend Merryn to an amusement park." The clip was raised as controversial by sections of the media, and three federal ministers expressed dislike over the screening of the clip. The ABC responded however, saying that "Play School aims to reflect the diversity of Australian children, embracing all manner of race, religions and family situations." The producers of the segment also said the segment showed the girl being accompanied by her birth mother and her step mother (hence "two mums") and they believed most people would automatically assume the same.
A 2013 segment showed Alex Papps constructing some kind of contraption which involved a straw inserted through the side of a plastic bottle, which was then filled with hot water, accidentally resembling a bong. This controversy became viral again in 2015, when the segment was replayed.
- "Play School Theme"
- "Paint a Rainbow"
- "I Can Run As Fast As You"
- "My hat it has three corners"
- "Put your finger on your nose"
- "This little girl"
- "The Black Cat" (Note: this was Blacky's first animation; the singer was Barbara Frawley (1980–1992) (started in 1980)
- "Take you Riding in my car" (started in the mid-1980s)
- "On the Ning Nang Nong" (started in 1987)
- "Standing on one leg"
- "Australia is a big land"
- "Wiggerly Woo"
- "Hey Diddle Diddle"
- "How do you feel today"
- "She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain"
- "Der Glumph went the little green frog"
- "Bananas in Pyjamas" – which would later serve as the theme to the same programme aired from 1992
- "Crazy Crazy Conga"
- "Splish Splash Splosh"
- "Rock-a-bye your bear"
- "Little Peter Rabbit"
- "Upsey down town"
- "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear"
- "Dingle dangle scarecrow"
- "Sing a Rainbow"
- "Five Little Ducks went out one day"
- "Five Grey Elephants"
- "I Like to Sing"
- "Here is the Sea"
- "Hickory Dickory Dock"
- "Dino Stomp"
- "How many people live at your house"
- "In the Summertime"
- "Changes, Changes, Everywhere"
- "Doe a Deer"
- "Dragon song"
- "Open, Shut Them"
- "Walking in the City"
- "We're Going to the Zoo"
- "Feathers, Fur or Fins"
- "The Wheels on the Bus"
- "Chicken Talk"
- "I Like Peace, I Like Quiet"
- "I'm so hungry"
- "It's fun to make things"
- "There were 10 in the bed"
- "Everybody's got a little rhythm"
- "3 Jellyfish"
- "The Egg Song"
- "The Speckled Frog Song"
- "They're Digging a Hole in the Road"
- "Ain't it Great to be Crazy"
- "If all the world were paper"
- "And we walk and we stop"
- "Put a stripe over here"
- "Running to the corner"
- "Hurry hurry, drive the firetruck"
- "I can do this"
- "You Can Stamp Your Feet"
- "Where did you get that hat?"
- "I can fly like a bird"
The theme song, "There's a Bear in There", was composed by Australian composer Richard Connolly, with lyrics by Rosemary Milne.
"There's a bear in there,
and a chair as well.
There are people with games,
and stories to tell.
Open wide, come inside;
it's Play School."
Recently remixed by Andre Butterworth aka Copycatt as the winner of the Triple J Play School remix competition which, along with two other remixes by KLP and Jondrette Den respectively, appeared on the Play School album Famous Friends: Celebrating 50 Years of Play School.
Play School has had a number of openers and logos throughout its long history. Originating as simple animations with vocals from select presenters, the logos and their respective openers have evolved over the many years of the series. The most recent logo, introduced in 2011, features an opener made entirely of stop-motion animation with vocals by presenters Justine Clarke and Jay Laga'aia.
- Jolene Anderson (2010–Present)
- Luke Carroll (2010–Present)
- Justine Clarke (1999–Present)
- Rachael Coopes (2011–Present)
- Michelle Lim Davidson (2013–Present)
- Teo Gebert (2003–Present)
- Sofya Gollan (1991–Present)
- Takaya Honda (2015–Present)
- Jay Laga'aia (2000–Present)
- Andrew McFarlane (2000–Present)
- Rhys Muldoon (1999–Present)
- Zindzi Okenyo (2013–Present)
- Emma Palmer (2011–Present)
- Karen Pang (1998–Present)
- Alex Papps (2005–Present)
- Jonny Pasvolsky (2011–Present)
- Eddie Perfect (2015–Present)
- Kiruna Stamell (2018–Present)
- Miranda Tapsell (2016–Present)
- Abi Tucker (2009–Present)
- Hunter Page-Lochard (2018-Present)
- Kaeng Chan (2018-Present)
- Matthew Backer (2017-Present)
- Nicholas Brown (2017-Present)
- Christine Anu (2004)
- Lorraine Bayly (1966–1978)
- Richard Bradshaw (1970s–1996)
- Colin Buchanan (1993–1999)
- Liz Burch (1988) 
- Simon Burke (1988–2007, 2013)
- Glenn Butcher (1997–2000)
- Judy Cannon (1978)
- Sarah Chadwick (1991)
- Liddy Clark (1984)
- Tyler Coppin (1982)
- Lynette Curran (1981)
- Benita Collings (1969–1999)
- Diane Dorgan (1966–1969)
- Essie Davis (2011–2012)
- Mervyn Drake (1980)
- Peter Drake (1966)
- Evan Dunstan (1966)
- Merridy Eastman (1985–1989)
- Kerry Francis (1966–1969)
- Barbara Frawley (1980–1992)
- Colin Friels (1980)
- Ros Gentle (1977)
- Trisha Goddard (1987–1998)
- Georgie Goldstein (1992)
- Reg Gorman (?)
- Anne Haddy (1966–1969)
- John Hamblin (1970–1999)
- Noni Hazlehurst (1978–2001)
- Joy Hopwood (1995–1997)
- Elaine Hudson (1981)
- David James (1993–2000)
- Geoff Jenkins (?)
- Darlene Johnson (1968)
- Patsy King (1966)
- Janet 'Jan' Kingsbury (1969–1986)
- Carlton Lamb (1992–1993)
- Jennifer Ludlum (1983–1987)
- David McCubbin (1991–1995)
- Donald McDonald (1966–1969)
- Pauline McLeod (1990–2003)
- Deborah Mailman (1998–2001)
- Bob Maza (probably 1970s)
- Anna Maria Monticelli (1986-c.1988)
- Angela Moore (1994–2000)
- Tara Morice (1989, 1993)
- Lloyd Morris (?)
- Tom Oliver (1967)
- Nicholas Opolski (1992–1994)
- Mark Owen-Taylor (2000)
- Jamie Oxenbould (1997)
- Georgie Parker (2006–2012)
- Matt Passmore (2002–2011)
- Nehama Patkin (1966)
- Philip Quast (1981–1996)
- Dasi Ruz (2001)
- Brooke Satchwell (2005–2010)
- Jeremy Scrivener (1992–1994)
- Mary Ann Severne (1975)
- Hugh Sheridan (2009–2013)
- Ken Shorter (1969)
- Annette Shun Wah (?)
- Alister Smart (1966–1993)
- George Spartels (1985–1999)
- Don Spencer (1968–1999)
- Ann Stroh (1966)
- Peter Sumner (1974)
- Ling-Hsueh Tang (2002)
- Monica Trapaga (1990–1998)
- James Valentine (1989, 1992)
- Leah Vandenberg (2000–2014)
- John Waters (1972–1990)
- David Whitney (2000)
- David Yorston (1966)
- List of Australian television series
- List of programs broadcast by ABC Television
- List of longest-running Australian television series
- Sesame Street
- Captain Kangaroo
- Play School (UK TV series)
- Play School (New Zealand TV series)
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
- Polka Dot Door
- Aedy, Richard. "Talkback: 'There's a bear in there', 45 years of Play School". Radio Interview (Talk back radio). ABC Radio National. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- ABC Brochure 2003
- "Play School wins Logie honour". Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 19 April 2006. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
- "The Wiggles On Play School".
- "Two New Presenters For Play School's 45th Birthday Celebrations". abc.net.au. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- "Play School 50". abc.net.au. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- "Celebrities Party for Play School's 50th in July".
- "Rocket Clock from Play School with dioramas and their components". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- "Flower clock from Play School". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- "Square, arch and round windows from Play School". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Leroy, Sabine (4 April 2014). "20th Annual AIMIA Award Winners Announced". Australian Interactive Media Industry Association. Sydney: AIMIA. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Brenna outs herself as show's star". The Daily Telegraph. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- "Play School lights up internet with accidental bong". SBS News. 9 Oct 2015. Retrieved 9 Oct 2015.
- "Play School Famous Friends". Retrieved September 3, 2016.
- Newstead, Al (25 October 2017). "Sounds of Australia: Play School theme, INXS & more officially inducted into Aussie archive". ABC Triple J. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- Byrnes, Holly (25 November 2015). "Feeling old? Brace yourself, because ABC Kids favourite Play School is turning 50". News Corporation. News Corp Australia Network. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
- Fairfax Media (10 February 2015). "Eddie Perfect joins the Play School team". Fairfax Media. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Presenters". ABC Kids – Play School. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- "Play Schooling for 45 years". Television.au. Television.au. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
- Kenneth Mardi. "Nemama Patkin, original Play School presenter dies".
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