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?