One of my earliest TV memories is of watching Playschool and being rather puzzled as to why a grown up presenter was playing with the soft toys and dolls. Even at that early age it struck me as incongruous and “not really quite right”.
But that is beside the point. The important thing to acknowledge is this: the Playschool toys were scary. Damn scary.
I never felt any warmth or friendliness toward or more importantly from them. They exuded mute evil and maliciousness in tones that reflected their outward appearances. They’d just sit there in the background while Brian Cant mimed eating a bowl of porridge and hurl the evil-eye at the TV screen. They never moved but you just knew their thoughts were full of death and the desire for human destruction.
The Teds looked like a furry version of the Krays – or worse, the Krankies. They’d rob you at knife point and stab you just to see the pretty strawberry pattern it made on your bib. Humpty looked like a fat, sweating pimp with horrible bacon rind lips and a lascivious smile that never ever disappeared. He personified unwholesome appetites and unnatural desires taken to bad extremes. Jemima... now Jemima you just knew was a snooty cow. A real little madam. On her own she had no real malice or ability to instil fear in anyone – not with those bandy legs. I mean she couldn’t even stand up on her own let alone run after you with a flick-knife. Somehow I suspect she was only allowed to join the Playschool toy gang because she was loaded. She had a mega rich daddy, sugar or otherwise. The rich bitch of the Playschool toys. But I bet she was viciously cruel. She’d be the one egging the others on with snide whispers.... “Go on, Big Ted, cut ‘im, cut his ear off... do it nice and slowly so’s I can see the blood... hey, do you know what they call a Big Mac in France?” A real nasty piece of work. A real bullet-maker.
But worst of all though was Hamble. The doll that looked like Elizabeth Taylor on crack cocaine. Just look at her face in the photo above. Evil. Pure unadulterated evil. Forget the polka dot print dress. She’s wearing a studded leather body-boot underneath with 9 inch heels. She’s got a bag of oranges in her satchel. She’s the ring leader. She’s the boss. And she hates children. Especially little boys. God, you can see it in her eyes. She wants to kill. She wants to maim. She wants to have endless children’s tea parties with imaginary Darjeeling and invisible cake, the sick torturing dirty bitch!
And this show was on 5 days a week for God’s sake!
Is it any wonder I was such a disturbed child?
And I thought I had a highly overactive imagination!! My my, Steve, you've really got it in for the poor old Play School toys, haven't you? Very funny descriptions though. Perhaps you could write the script for a nasty "adult" version of Play School.
I actually agree with your comments about Hamble though - everyone seemed to hate her - I distinctly remember a drunken conversation I had with some student friends years back, in which we (metaphorically at least) ripped apart poor the ugly-faced doll. The decision was unanimous. Hamble was evil!!
And talking of Liz Taylor I'm actually reading her bio at the mo, and you're right, there IS a resemblance!
By another strange coincidence I recently heard that Floella Benjamin (ex Play School presenter) is going to be appearing in the Sarah Jane Adventures and it got me to thinking, perhaps the Play School toys could appear in that - nasty killer alien versions of them, with Floella as their evil leader. Now there's a writing challenge for you or me!
Love the picture of the toys by the way - where did you get it? Or can you email me a copy?
Yes it's amazing how Hamble just inspires uncontrollable hatred and violence in just about everybody. She is the one doll that all children would delibrately mangle, hammer, shred, stamp on and just vilely abuse. I imagine sales of similar dolls were quite disasterous in the UK at the time...
I used to quite like Floella B - she was always so jolly and happy but I long suspected that she had a very dirty, earthy streak to her (this was when I was a bit older obviously)... something you could just not equate with Brian Cant...
I love the idea for Sarah Jane Adventures... the plot would be limitless in its scope for evil nastiness. And bloody good fun too!
Glad you like the pic - as I haven't got your email address at work (where I currently am) I'll paste the link to the picture here instead: http://tv.cream.org/lookin/playschool/index.htm.
"Playschool" was a little after my time! I'm more of the "Andy Pandy", "Woodentops" and "Bill and Ben" era!! Nothing like the drug-induced Flowerpot Men!!!
Little Weed, anyone?!!
Ah Bill and Ben... the source of one of my favourite jokes of all time:
"Flobalobalob." said Bill.
"If you loved me, you'd swallow that." said Ben.
Sorry. Dreadfully crude, I know, but it makes me laugh every time!
There's an old Twilight Zone called 'Living Doll' which features a Hamblesque creation who delivers the chilling lines...
"My name is Talky Tina and I'm going to kill you."
I can definitely see why you want to write a book......Yep, you have the imagination for it.
Play School was a little after my time too but I have to admit to being a little freaked by Captain Pugwash and I found Tintin really strange too. AND don't get me started on anything Enid Blyton!
You are SICK, Steve! And I thought I was bad! (ha ha)
And as for your Floella B fantasies, well really!! True though that Brian Cant was whiter than white, in more than one sense of the phrase! (And geek fact ahoy - did you know that his son appeared in the recent Dr Who story "Blink"?)
As for the SJA plot, I think you should get writing it pronto - just as I did for the Donna/Martha face-off script! With your highly inventive, not to say, evil, imagination you'll go very far, Mister!
And thanks muchly for posting the link to the pic.
Play School is one programme that never captured my imagination, even when I was 4 though poor Floella did her best to make it more lively. I was always more of a Play Away fan myself. Brian Cant is ace!
I must admit I loved his voice overs for Chigley and Camberwick Green when I was a kid. Especially the "boys" from Pippin Fort... Pugh Pugh...!
I never thought of the toys as evil but I was always perturbed by the round window for some reason. Who had round windows in their houses in the 70s? Very odd.
Yes. It's only now that, years later, I wonder if "the round window" was in fact some sort of wink-wink nudge-nudge euphemism... I've heard some pretty sordid rumours about George and Zippy from Rainbow too...
Not specifically Hamble as such, but I can remember feeling uneasy with the all-too-frequent occasions on which the presenters would suggest that the toys had some sort of 'existence' outside of the boundaries of the programme (ie "Humpty went to the shops yesterday", that sort of thing).
Hamble is now safely behind bars in The Bradford Museum Of Film And Television And Thingy, so until someone mounts a Doctor Who And The Web Of Fear-style rescue attempt, you can rest easy.
I know what you mean - the thought of Humpty wrestling a shopping trolley around Morrisons is deeply disturbing... although I'd be highly amused to see Jemima attempting the same.
Hamble I hope is in solitary confinement and under constant restraint... she makes the Darleks look like pussycats...
Oh my god your words have infected me and I can actually "feel" the personalities of these toys when I look at the pictures! Thanks a bunch. Hamble would have been good in Terror of the Autons.
Darrow: I swear to God, Humpty had a bit part in the Hellraiser films...
1:humpty dumpty is a racist blackface portraymant
2. he reminds me of test card f's clown , whom is flipping SCARY
HUM.TY.DUM.TY IS SCARY!
Unknown: it is an accepted fact now that Playschool was a major cog of the Illuminati propaganda machine. Think about it. They had every shaped window except for a triangle... Just sayin'...
It seems Hamble has gone missing, if the Grauniad is to be believed... Be scared, be very scared...
Bagpuss: she's gone rogue. She'll be stalking our streets at night armed with a Stanley knife and a claw hammer. Floella Benjamin needs to hire some protection!
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