kateritchiebigtedThe ABC special Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School takes a look back at Australia’s longest running children’s show.

Hosted by Nova FM‘s Kate Ritchie, the program features rare footage from the Play School archive — including scenes from the very first episode that went to air on Monday, 18 July 1966, plus some of the show’s earliest presenters.

Presenting their memories of Play School throughout the program are just some of the presenters who have graced the Play School set over the years, including Noni Hazlehurst, Benita Collings, John Waters, John Hamblin, Lorraine Bayly, Alister Smart, Georgie Parker, Luke Carroll and Justine Clarke. Other well known celebrities, including Craig McLachlan, Mikey Robins, The Wiggles, Hannah Gadsby, Joe Hildebrand, Nazeem Hussain, Benjamin Law, Adam Liaw and Andrew Gaze also share their memories of growing up with Play School.

John Hamblin and Lorraine Bayly

The special revisits some of the feedback that the show had received over the years, including the outrage from the media when one segment featured a family of two mothers.

Although Play School was produced for many years ‘as live’ — meaning that it all had to be done in one take — some bloopers inevitably had to be cut. Viewers will get to see a few such moments… which perhaps should carry a warning of containing obscene language! There are some words we just never imagined Benita blurting out on camera!

Benita Collings and John Waters with pianist Warren Carr

leighsalesannabelcrabbABC is also commemorating Play School‘s 50th anniversary with a series of short segments featuring a mix of Play School presenters and some other familiar faces giving their own take on some Play School songs and stories. Guy Sebastian, Magda Szubanski, Molly Meldrum, Hamish and Andy, Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Lee Lin Chin, Carrie Bickmore, Dami Im, Delta Goodrem and Kate Ceberano are just some of the names to appear in the segments that have been airing during the month on ABC Kids and on ABC iView.

Anne Haddy and Kerry Francis

playschool_0001Since its debut in 1966, Play School has clocked up around 2250 episodes and amassed a library of almost 2000 songs. Six versions of the opening titles have appeared over 50 years. The show was awarded a TV Week Logie in 1998 for Most Outstanding Achievement In Children’s Television and was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 2006.

The program has been a commercial success for ABC through product merchandising, concerts and recorded media and led to spin off titles Bananas In Pyjamas and Little Ted’s Big Adventure.

Alister Smart and Jan Kingsbury

Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School. Tonight, Sunday 10 July, 7.40pm. ABC

Pictures: ABC




4 thoughts on “Looking back at 50 years of Play School

  1. interesting that 50 years of a programme can be made without any
    producers / production or technical staff, early learning consultants ,
    musicians or writers. NOT a mention. I have complained to ABC
    be interesting if I get a reply.

    1. I seem to recall the show did acknowledge that planning of episodes was done by early childhood advisors and even when the ABC Education unit was wound up the advisors were kept on.
      The role of the pianist was also acknowledged by both Kate Ritchie as narrator and Eddie Perfect in his segment. The art department also got a mention for its contribution in restoring the toy props.
      I don’t recall any specific mention of writers but there may have been.

  2. Interesting in 1976 they were still showing early black and white episodes as some have colour sets I think the first episode in colour was in 1977

    1. Because they only produce a limited number of episodes each year they probably had to resort to repeating earlier episodes to keep the show airing continuously.

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