Mention Play School and most people will think of Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima and Humpty – the much-loved toys that have starred in more than 2250 episodes of the enduring children’s show.
This year marks 50 years of Play School, and to celebrate, the toys are welcoming a new friend to the Play School set.
Joey the joey will make her debut on the much anticipated birthday episode, Come to the Party, airing on ABC KIDS and ABC iview at 9.30am on 18 July.
Joey the joey was designed by award winning children’s book illustrator Bruce Whatley (Diary of a Wombat, Josephine Wants to Dance, The Ugliest Dog in the World), and is set to become a household name, just like her friends.
Bruce Whatley says, “Play School was such a staple part of our household when our children were growing up and as adults they still have fond memories of the presenters and toys. It was quite an honour to be asked to create the character of Joey for such an iconic production as Play School and it’s pretty cool to even be a small part of the nostalgia of the generations that are to follow.”
It’s difficult to pinpoint the reason for Play School’s enduring success, but perhaps it is because the show has remained relevant over time, adapting and changing as it reflects the current culture and climate of Australia.
The creators of Play School have embraced the digital revolution with games and apps on offer, an interactive website and the ability to view the shows on any device, anytime, through iView.
But although they’ve kept up with the times, the old school charm of Play School has remained. Tissue boxes and toilet rolls are still re-purposed to make clever crafts. The recognisable theme song, although tweaked a little, still opens and closes the show. And children still feel the thrill of guessing the correct window that they’ll be looking through that day.
With a focus on learning through play, Play School has had a host of talented presenters, many of whom were fondly remembered in the documentary – Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 years of Play School. Fans will also enjoy the Play School Celebrity Covers episodes, currently airing on ABC KIDS and ABC iview.
If you want a keepsake to remember this occasion, you can purchase Play School themed 50 cent coins, featuring Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima, direct from the Royal Australian Mint. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Joey the joey has her own collector coin too.
Play School airs on ABC KIDS, weekdays at 6:00am, 9:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm and weekends at 9:30am and 3:30pm, and is available on ABC iview.