Play School (Australian TV series)

Play School (Australian TV series)
Play School
Genre Children's television
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
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 46
Executive producer(s) Claire Henderson
Henrietta Clark
John Fox
Virginia Lumsden
Jan Stradling
Producer(s) Allan Kendall
Henrietta Clark
Ros Lawson
John Fox
Tracey Ellison
Wendy Gray
Sophie Emtage
Location(s) Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Running time 25 minutes
Original channel ABC1
(Mornings: 18 July 1966–2 May 2011)
(Afternoons: 18 July 1966–present)

(Mornings: 2005–2011)
(Afternoons: 2005–2011)

ABC4 Kids
(Mornings: 2 May 2011–present)
(Afternoons: 2 May 2011–present)
Picture format 4:3 (1966–2003)
16:9 (2003–present)
Audio format Stereo
Original run 18 July 1966 (1966-07-18) – present
External links
Production website

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 childrens show in the world.[1] An estimated 80% of pre-school children under six watch the programme at least once a week.[2] It is screened twice every weekday at 3:05 pm on ABC1 (from 2 May 2011) 9:30 am and 4:35 pm on ABC4 Kids (from 2 May 2011).



Play School began production in 18 July 1966 based on a British programme of the same name. The first Australian Play School episode was transmitted on 18 July of that year. It has been produced continuously from this time. It has launched the careers of several Australian actors and television presenters. It was admitted to the Logies Hall of Fame on its 40th anniversary in 2006. This was in recognition of the strong influence the show has had in 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).

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.

On 31 May 2004 a 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 narrated the clip, stating "My Mums are taking me and my friend Merryn to an amusement park." The clip was raised as controversial by 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.

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 Play School theme song sung by presenters Jay Laga'aia and Justine Clarke.[3]


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 1970 to 2000, they had a rocket clock which was shaped like a rocket and a flower clock which was 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 the late '80s they also changed the windows to look like their British counterparts had in the late '70s through to the axing of the show. Every week there is a common theme running through the programme that the actors will reflect upon during the episode.

In 2000, the show had a massive revamp, with the rocket and flower clocks and the three windows put in storage 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.


Logie Nominations and Awards

Most Outstanding Children's Program

Logie Hall of Fame (2006)

Aria Nominations and Awards

Best Children's Album:

  • 1995–Oomba Baroomba (Lost to The Wiggles Big Red Car)
  • 1997-Play School in the Car (Won)
  • 2000-Hullabaloo (Lost to Hi-5 Jump And Jive With Hi-5)
  • 2003-Hip Hip Hooray (Lost to Hi-5 Celebrate)
  • 2011-Let's Play Together (award info coming soon)


  • Hey Diddle Diddle (1976)
  • Hickory Dickory (1978)
  • Humpty Dumpty (1981)
  • Wiggerly Woo (1984)
  • There's a Bear in There (1987)
  • ...It's Play School (1991)
  • The Best of Play School (1993)
  • Fiddle-Dee-Dee! - Nonsense Verse From Play School (1994)
  • Oomba Baroomba (1994)
  • Play School Favourites (1996)
  • Play School in the Car (1997)
  • Hullabaloo (1999)
  • Favourite Play School Nursery Rhymes (2002)
  • Hip Hip Hooray (2002)
  • Play School Sing-A-Long Songs (2004)
  • Let's Play Together (2011)
  • Play School 45th Anniversary Collection (2011)


  • Big Ted (teddy bear)
  • Little Ted (teddy bear)
  • Hamble (plastic doll), named after John Hamblin, who was a presenter from 1970-1999
  • Jemima (rag doll)
  • Slush (toy pig)
  • Maurice (teddy bear)
  • Meeka (plastic doll)
  • Jim (plastic doll)
  • Scrap (toy dog)
  • Humpty (white egg-shaped toy with eyes, resembles Humpty Dumpty)
  • Diddle (toy cat)
  • Fergus (toy frog)
  • Sam the Lamb (toy lamb)
  • Banana (toy banana, see also Bananas in Pyjamas)
  • 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)
  • Henry and Henrietta (Mice)
  • Troy and Tony (twin teddy bear)
  • Owl (toy owl)
  • Tippy (toy duck)
  • Other Toys


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 has previously been 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. Play School is successful because it satisfies our basic human need to interact with other people and to be valued by them.


  • The Play School Theme Song
  • If you're happy and you know it
  • My hat it has three corners
  • Put your finger on your nose
  • This little girl
  • On the Ning Nang Nong
  • Standing on one leg
  • Australia is a big land
  • Do your ears hang low
  • Wiggly woo
  • Zoom
  • hey diddle diddle
  • How do you feel today
  • She'll be comin' round the mountain
  • Galumph went the little green frog
  • Bananas in Pyjamas
  • Crazy Crazy Conga
  • Splish Splash Splosh
  • Rock-a-bye your bear
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Little Peter Rabbit
  • Upsey down town
  • 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
  • Popcorn
  • Changes, Changes, Everywhere
  • Dragon song
  • Open, Shut Them
  • Walking in the City

Theme Song

The theme song was composed by prominent Australian composer Richard Connolly.

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.


Current presenters

Former presenters

See also


  1. ^ Aedy, Richard. "Talkback: 'There's a bear in there', 45 years of Play School" (in Australian English). Radio Interview (Talk back radio). ABC Radio National. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  2. ^ ABC Brochure 2003
  3. ^ "Two New Presenters For Play School's 45th Birthday Celebrations". 9 June 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  4. ^

External links

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