Play School (New Zealand TV series)

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Play School
Country of originNew Zealand
Camera setupMulti-Camera
Original networkTVNZ
Picture formatPAL
Original release1972 –

Play School was a New Zealand educational television show for children. It was based on the British Play School show.

Program Synopsis[edit]

It was first broadcast in New Zealand on Tuesday 22 March 1972 and series one and two continued to be broadcast twice weekly, Tuesday and Thursday at approx. 4.30pm. It was originally filmed at AKTV2's Shortland Street studios in Auckland, and in later years, at what was then TVNZ's Dunedin Studio being screened twice a day at around 10am and then 2:30pm. The last series screened on television in 1990.

The show was provided by the BBC in "kitset" form. They supplied scripts and also short filmed items for showing "through the windows".

The show starred five toys, which are famously nostalgic for New Zealanders who watched the program as children. They are:

  • Big Ted: A traditional-style golden coloured teddy bear
  • Little Ted: Identical to Big Ted, but much smaller
  • Manu: A very human-looking plastic doll with Māori features, such as dark skin and hair
  • Jemima: A rag doll with orange woollen hair
  • Humpty: A round green fabric toy resembling Humpty Dumpty.

Today, Big Ted, Manu, Jemima, and Humpty are part of a collection at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, New Zealand. The museum also has a large collection of clothing and props from the show.[2] Little Ted's head was blown up by the film crew after the completion of the final series and can be seen at the Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin.[3] The original clock from the series was discovered at a library in Invercargill in August 2009.[4]

In 2005, TV2 started to screen the Australian version of Play School. It features New Zealand presenter Jay Laga'aia who has been on the show since 2000, though the Australian version is significantly different from the New Zealand version, which was similar to the British format of the seventies and eighties.


The founding presenters were Waric Slyfield and Janet Milne. They presented most of the programmes made in the first year of production (1972), with some presented by Ken Rea and Val Lamond. Waric and Janet were joined the following year by Jan Johnston, Ray Woolf and Elizabeth Rogers.

Pianists included Ossie Cheesman and Jonathan Cohen.

Other presenters included :


  • Russell Sheppard
  • Eli Grey-Smith
  • Neville Copeland
  • Graeme Perkins

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shocking Truth Behind Te Papa Play School's Little..." 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2012. Play School, an adaptation from a British show by the same name, kept thousands of New Zealand children entertained when it aired from 1972 to 1990.
  2. ^ Play School items in the collection of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  3. ^ "Remembering a childhood favourite". One News. 25 June 2005. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  4. ^ Morgan, Jared (7 August 2009). "TV treasure unearthed at city library". The Southland Times. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  5. ^ [1]

External links[edit]