Based on the BBC’s Playschool, Play School first aired on ABC Television on 18 July 1966. It is Australia’s longest-running continuously produced children’s show, with 80 per cent of preschool children watching at least once a week.
Play School has an educational approach, based on research into the conceptual development of pre-school children. The program aims to encourage children to wonder, to think, to feel and to imagine, encouraging participation. The show’s presenters seek to engage each child directly and personally, using stories, songs and activities reflecting the culture of Australian children.
Many well-known Australian actors and television presenters have worked as presenters, including Lorraine Bayly, John Hamblin, Simon Burke, Noni Hazlehurst, Georgie Parker and John Waters. Play School also features familiar toys—including Big Ted and Jemima. Regular segments include book readings, telling the time and moving through different-shaped windows to video clips of the world outside.
Throughout its life, the program has maintained its basic approach while revising its ‘look’ as television presentation developed. The show had a major revamp in 2000; another update occurred in 2011, with a new arrangement of its theme song sung by presenters Jay Laga’aia and Justine Clarke.
Play School spawned the Bananas in Pajamas, after the Bananas’ theme song became popular on the show. It also featured an early performance by The Wiggles. The program attracted controversy in 2004 when a segment showing a child with ‘two mums’ was aired.
Play School was admitted to the Logies Hall of Fame in 2006.
REF: Play School producers’ notes (held by author).