There’s still a bear in there
It’s hard to believe that this year the television program Play School celebrates its half-century as the nation’s most respected, trusted and longestrunning children’s series.
To mark this momentous milestone, Kate
Ritchie presents Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years of Play School. It’s the nostalgic story of how a kids’ show, derived — like so much of our culture back in the 1960s — from Britain, charmed Australia and rapidly developed into something original. It has now run for more than 2250 episodes, supported by numerous brand extensions that would make Disney envious, including books, DVDs, apps and merchandise.
Executive-produced by Craig Graham, the rather charming doco, quirkier than one might expect, features well-known performers including Mikey Robins, Hannah Gadsby, Nazeem Hussain, Craig McLachlan and members of the original Wiggles sharing their personal memories of the show. And there are anecdotes from past and present Play School presenters, including Benita Collings and John Waters.
The documentary takes a nostalgic journey through Aussie childhood, reliving the laughter and delights of half a century, while charting the nation’s social history. It’s easy to take for granted the way Play School has reflected the cultural changes in this country as they were taking place and spearheaded diversity.
The faces on the show changed, with presenters of different ethnicities appearing as regulars, letting white kids know that there were also Asian and Muslim kids in other playgrounds, well before black and Asian actors were seen in our grown-up dramas. And it’s guaranteed to have you singing the theme song for hours.
Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years of Play School, Sunday, 7.40pm, ABC
Kate Ritchie, pictured with Big Ted, presents the special celebrating 50 years of ABC’s Play School