John Hamblin, actor and long-time presenter on Play School, has died at the age of 87.

Born in England, Hamblin had made some early acting appearances on British television and was a “ten pound pom” when he came to Australia in the 1960s. His first Australian TV appearance was a guest role in the adventure series Riptide.

He first appeared in Play School in 1970 and went on to appear in 357 episodes over almost 30 years. He returned for the show’s 50th anniversary special in 2016.

In amongst performing for pre-school viewers (and subtlely to their parents), he was also a theatre actor and appeared in various TV series including The Comedy Game, This Love Affair, Number 96, Skyways, The Young Doctors, The Timeless Land and Secret Valley.

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He had a leading role in the Seven Network series Class Of ’74, playing the part of schoolteacher Donald Blair, and played the lead role of defence lawyer John Case in the courtroom drama Case For The Defence.

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He had a long-running role in The Restless Years and played Dr James Holt in the short-lived soap Starting Out.

He played the part of Michael Chamberlain in the 1984 telemovie The Disappearance Of Azaria Chamberlain (later re-titled Who Killed Baby Azaria?) and later credits included A Country Practice, Tusitalia, Sons And Daughters, Winners, The Miraculous Mellops, All Saints, Love My Way and Pizza.

In 2008 he told his life story in the book Open Wide, Come Inside, by Peter Richman.

The Restless Years: Jill Forster, John Hamblin, June Salter

In a statement, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist Jennifer Collins said: “John was an unforgettable presenter whose comedic timing and wit helped cement Play School as one of Australia’s most cherished children’s programs. John had a wicked sense of humour and was not afraid of a double-entendre. His presence always managed to keep both our toddler target audience and their parents equally engaged with the show. I would like to extend my condolences to John’s family at this sad time.”

John Hamblin is survived by children Emma and Myles.

Source: IMDB, ABC, The Age

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