playschoolnma_feature

Happy Birthday Play School!

Molly McLaughlin

Iconic Australian television show Play School Celebrates 50 years at the NMA

Children and adults all over Australia have grown up with Play School since it first aired in 1966.

The opening song that invites us to ‘open wide, come inside,’ brings back fond memories, and characters like Jemima and Little Ted are as familiar as our own toys.  

Even the presenters are celebrities, and at the launch of the Happy Birthday Play School exhibition, current presenter Alex Papps and Play School legend Benita Collings joined the celebrations.

John Waters and Benita © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

John Waters and Benita © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

Happy Birthday Play School is a travelling exhibition developed by the National Museum of Australia and the ABC where kids and adults can meet Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima in the flesh (or the fluff) and look through the Round, Square and Arched windows, along with loads more props and interesting displays.

Jan Stradling, the Executive Producer of Children’s TV at ABC, knows the secret of Play School’s success is the hard work that goes into making every episode and its always-evolving content.

“It’s an Australian show with Australian voices, it’s trusted,” she says. “Three generations of Australians have grown up with it and it reminds adults of the very special time in our lives when we could just play.”

 Justine Clarke and Alex Papps © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

Justine Clarke and Alex Papps © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

Having been an integral part of the show for more than 30 years, Benita Collings has a unique perspective. She believes Play School subtly provides both a mirror to a child’s life but also an image of other people and what other lives might be like.

“Each one of the presenters brought their own style to the show, I always say ‘we are ourselves warts and all, what you see is what you get’,” she laughs.

 Deborah Mailman  Deborah Mailman © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

Deborah Mailman © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

“On Play School, you ran with whatever happened, so that made it a very live, in-the-moment kind of show. Kids make mistakes so they understood when we made mistakes.”

According to Alex, who has been part of the Play School team for over 10 years, presenting the show is as fun as it looks.

“It reminds us what was like to be a child,” he says.

“It’s an unpretentious conversation between a grown up and a child. Play School speaks to the child in a very non-judgemental fashion and the child is invited in to play no matter who they are, where they’re from, what their family is like. Play School invites everybody in and all you need to be is who you are.”

 Noni Hazlehurst © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

Noni Hazlehurst © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

the essentials

What: Happy Birthday Play School Exhibition
When: 7 May – 24 July 2016
Where: National Museum of Australia
How much: $8 adult/$4 child
Web: www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/play_school

Feature and slider image: © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2016

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author