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Playschool Memories | by amfawcett
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Playschool Memories

Last weekend we visited the National Media Museum in Bradford.

 

On display were the original toys used in 'Playschool' - a hugely popular BBC TV programme in the 1960s and early 70s. I remember it well.

 

These were the 5 toys who made regular appearances in Playschool, along with the familiar round, square and arched windows you can see in the background (for some reason when the arched window was chosen I always felt mildly disappointed... but i digress)

 

So, from the right we have...

 

Big Ted - rather "stodgy", but a great favourite with Eric Morecambe, who used to visit the toys when working in a nearby studio. The Original Big Ted was stolen. A replacement was found, but the original Ted was never seen again.

 

Little Ted - often overshadowed, but a good sort. I thought he was similar to my own (one-eyed) Ted, but he wasn't.

 

Centre-Stage as ever we have Humpty, an oversized home-made-looking green egg thing - Harris thought he was "a bit rumbustious", and rather prone to falling over. I liked Humpty - he felt safe and familiar.

 

Jemima the rag doll - "An empty headed bimbette" according to Fred Harris (one of the original presenters). Personally I could never relate to her and she was the only one whose name i can't remember after 44 years.

 

Finally there was Hamble the doll - the hate figure of the under-fives for the entire run of the programme. Nobody liked Hamble, myself included. The doll pictured is not the original Hamble and it is easy to see why:

 

Although it was originally a very common type of doll, sold in Woolworths, by the time Play School was in full flow there were only two Hambles in Britain. The other was owned by a woman in Chester, who would hire it to the BBC for £40 a week whenever the Play School regular was injured, which seemed to happen with some frequency to all accounts.

 

It wasn't just the audience who detested Hamble. None of the presenters could stand her either, so she'd get drop kicked across the studio, and once, when she wouldn't behave, presenter Chloe Ashcroft "...did a terrible thing to Hamble. She just would not sit up...so one day I got a very big knitting needle, a bit wooden one, and I stuck it right up her bum, as far as her head. So she was completely rigid, and she was much much better after that."

 

Hamble was the only toy not to make it through to the end, being replaced by black doll Poppy in an 80s attempt to be more inclusive.

 

Fond memories.

 

For the younger amongst you Zoe Ball is the daughter of Johnny, who was one of the early Playschool presenters

 

[backstory excerpts courtesy of BBC Cult TV]

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Taken on August 25, 2012