Saturday, 21 April 2018

Ready to Play?

What's the day?

Well, Saturday.

So, not words that would ever opened that classic of children's TV Play School, which first aired on this day (a Tuesday) back in 1964.

It was much loved, much missed (it morphed into Playbus, then Playdays and ultimately Tikkabilla). There was a Saturday spin-off called Play Away hosted by the long-serving Brian Cant (and featuring, among others nascent thespians Jeremy Irons and Tony Robinson).

But there was never anything quite like the weekday regular, Play School. And what a roll-call of stella names graced its studio: Eric Thompson (father of Emma, 'father' of The Magic Roundabout), Derek Griffiths, Johnny Ball, (Dame) Floella Benjamin and many, many more).

But the real stars, of course, were the toys. Two Teds (big and little), Jemima the rag-doll and a rather scary doll called Hamble, and Humpty. Who didn't love Humpty?

Unfortunately all was not sweetness and light backstage, and if you want to find out more, have a listen to this excellent documentary (covering, in addition, Captain Pugwash, Mr Benn, Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green). But beware. It involves a knitting needle inserted into a rather unfortunate location.

No wonder poor Hamble always looked so disapproving!

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