Play School (UK TV series)

Play School (UK TV series)

infobox television
bgcolor =
show_name = Playschool (UK)

caption =
format = Children's television series
runtime =
country = UK
network = BBC2(1964 – 1988)
first_aired = 21 April, 1964
last_aired = 11 March 1988
creator =
executive producer =
starring =
num_episodes = |

"Play School" is a famous long-running British children's television series devised by Nicko Spalding. It was produced by the BBC and ran from 21 April 1964 until 11 March 1988. It accidentally became the first ever programme to be shown on the fledgling BBC2 after a power cut halted the opening night's programming (and later it became the first children's programme to be shown in colour by that channel). "Play School" originally appeared on weekdays at 11am on BBC2 and later acquired a mid-afternoon BBC1 repeat. It was superseded in October 1988 by Playbus, which soon became Playdays.

When the BBC scrapped the afternoon edition of Play School in 1985, to make way for a variety of children's programmes in the afternoon, a Sunday morning compilation was launched called "Hallo Again!"

There were several opening sequences for Play School, the first one "A house with a door, windows 1 2 3 4, ready to knock? Turn the lock - It's Play School" This changed in the early seventies to "A house with a door, 1 2 3 4, ready to play, what's the day? It's..." In this version blinds opened on the windows as the numbers were said.

Out went the blinds at towards the end of the 1970s and the word "windows" was added before "1 2 3 4" The final opening sequence involved a multicoloured house with no apparent windows. This was used from 1983 until the end of the programme. This saw the most radical revamp of the programme overall ( not just in the opening titles ). The opening legend then became " Get ready - to play. What's the day? It's..."


The first show was presented by Virginia Stride and Gordon Rollings. Other presenters throughout the 24-year run included Brian Cant, Carol Chell, Sarah Long, Chloe Ashcroft, Derek Griffiths, Eric Thompson and his wife Phyllida Law, Floella Benjamin, Don Spencer, Fred Harris, Jeremy Irons, Lionel Morton, Miranda Connell, Carmen Munroe, Johnny Ball, Carol Leader, Simon Davies, Julie Stevens, Stuart McGugan, Toni Arthur, Johnny Silvo, Stuart Bradley.

In many cases five programmes would be produced in the space of two days, with one day of rehearsal and one day of recording.


The presenters were accompanied by a supporting cast of cuddly toys and dolls. The five regulars included:
* Big Ted and Little Ted, teddy bears.
* Jemima, a ragdoll with long red and white striped legs.
* Hamble, a rather dirty and ordinary plastic doll. It was one of the five original dolls, but was replaced by Poppy. Hamble was chosen as representative of a more "downtrodden", humble background than the "middle-class" associations that the teddy bears had. [Joyce Whitby, Creator of Play School, Children's TV on Trial. BBC Television, broadcast May 28, 2007]
* Humpty, a dark green large egg-shaped soft toy with green trousers, to look like Humpty Dumpty from the nursery rhyme
* Poppy, a black doll who replaced Hamble in the later years of the series in response to changing attitudes in society (the Hamble doll was also getting rather fragile at this point.)

A rocking horse named Dapple was also seen in some episodes, when a particular song or item suggested it.


* Katoo - a cockatoo
* Bit and Bot - goldfish
* Buffy - A rabbit
* Mice
* Guinea pigs including Lizzy

The pets were cared for by Wendy Duggan, sister-in-law of children's TV presenter Tony Hart.

Contents of the show

A section of each episode was the video excursion into the outside world taken through one of three windows: the young viewers were invited to guess whether the round, square, or arched window would be chosen that day. A triangular window was added in 1983. Very often the film would be of a factory producing something such as chocolate biscuits, or of a domestic industry such as refuse collection.

At the beginning of the 1983 revamp, the windows were now referred to as "shapes" as in "let's have a look through one of the shapes..." After the shapes being moved to a spinning disc, the programme went back to using windows which resembled those used in the late 70s, albeit with the addition of the triangular window.

Each episode would also include a short story read from a book, introduced by checking the time on a clock. Normally the clock would show either an hour or a half hour.

Both the clock and the three window option lives on in the children's programme "Tikkabilla", which borrows much from "Play School", while a similar choice of portal into a film clip was provided by the abdomen-mounted video displays in the children's show "Teletubbies".

There would also be songs and stories.

From 1971 to 1984, "Play School" also had a sister programme, called "Play Away".


*"25 Minutes Peace - Celebrating Play School" (BBC TV programme, 1979)

External links

* [ "Play School"] at
*imdb title|id=0236919|title=Play School "(BBC)

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