Play School was a much-loved UK kids TV show that ran between 1964 and 19778. If you were a kid then, you’ll remember Play School and the names of Brian Cant, Floella Benjamin, Derek Griffiths, Stuart McGugan, Carol Leader, Fred Harris, Chloe Ashcroft, Don Spencer et al will be burnt into your memories. You’ll probably also remember 'the windows', as well as the toys: Humpty, Big Ted and Little Ted, Jemima and Hamble.
Play School was cancelled in 1988 to make room for first Playbus and then Playdays. And if you’re a parochial Brit like me, you probably thought that was the end of Play School.
However, since the 1960s, the show had been franchised out and that there were different versions around the world. Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain and Israel all made their own versions; Canada’s Polka Dot Door was an adaptation of Play School; and even Sesame Street was modelled on Play School.
Down under, New Zealand ran its own version between 1975 and 1990. Interestingly, the New Zealand version had toys with virtually the same names as the UK version, with the minor difference that Hamble was replaced by the Maori-esque Manu.
Australia, by contrast, never cancelled its version of Play School, which has run continuously since 1966, making it the second longest running children’s TV show in the world. Over that time, it’s changed considerably. Initially very similar to the UK version – indeed, Don Spencer of the UK version also hosted the Australian version and all the toys’ names were the same – it’s altered the content, style, titles, toys and virtually everything else about it. But it’s still Play School. And it’s still running.
It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.
The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also theReviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there'sLocate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.
It’s February so time for some more new programmes, some of them quite awkwardly scheduled, given I actually went out and did things this weekend. So, I’ve already reviewed the first episode of Allegiance today, and I’ll be reviewing the first two episodes of Fresh Off The Boat tomorrow. Given that Better Call Saul aired its first episode yesterday and is airing its second episode tonight, I’ll hold off on that until later in the week, too.
However, I did have time to watch two new Australian shows, as well.
Hiding (Australia: ABC)
Criminal is arrested but won’t give up the rest of his gang – until he’s nearly murdered in prison and decides he wants to be safe and free. He agrees to snitch but he and his family have to be relocated to Sydney for their own protection – except naturally, the foreign-sounding gang boss wants to find him… Supposedly a ‘unique blend of humour and tension’, instead, for the first half at least, you’ll be wanting to sue under the Trade Descriptions Act, as it’s got neither humour nor tension (although the prison fights scenes aren’t bad). But things pick up once the relocation has happened, particularly in the university where our ‘hero’ is supposed to now work and when the family have to wrestle with concerns about whether they’ll become ’Sydney dickheads’ or not. I’ll give the second episode a try, at least.
Winter (Australia: Seven)
There is, apparently, one country on Earth that still uses the tried and tested “TV movie then series” method of dipping a toe in the water and then launching a new show: Australia. In this case, Winter is a spin-off series from the 2013 Seven TV movie The Killing Field, in which former Flying Doctors Rebecca Gibney and Peter O’Brien are rival police detectives investigating crimes, which for some reason usually involve teenage girls being killed. Without having seen the movie, it’s hard to say how this stacks up against the original, but as a standalone show, it was astonishingly dull and predictable, with O’Brien a happy slapper cop, Gibney a frosty (one might almost say ‘wintery’) methodical cop who looks down on his unprofessional ways. Despite the obvious nods to The Killing and Broadchurch, the show’s saving grace is that rather than ‘the maverick cop who doesn’t play by the book’ (O’Brien) being the star, it’s Gibney’s show. But that doesn’t stop it being a waste of an hour of your life. Fans of Outrageous Fortune and The Blue Rose will notice the presence of Antonia Prebble.
I’ve not had time to watch Spiral (Engrenages), either, and my wife still hasn’t been in the mood to watch Cougar Town. But after the jump, I’ll take a look at the regulars, including 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, Banshee, Constantine, Elementary, The Flash, Gotham, Ground Floor, Hindsight, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Spiral (Engrenages), State of Affairs, and Suits. Of those, one of them is being promoted to recommended and two are being cast away from the viewing list forever – but which ones!?
I also went to the theatre this week!
One Man, Two Guvnors (NT touring production)
Carlo Goldoni Commedia dell’arte-esque Il servitore di due padroni is relocated by Richard Bean (Great Britain) to 1963 Brighton, with the easily confused Francis Henshall becoming employed by two gangsters, one upper class, one working class, and having to juggle his responsibilities. Despite the fact that the role of Henshall was originally taken by James Corden, for whom every single line appears to have been personally tailored, Gavin Spokes is a great replacement and the play is actually hilariously funny, respecting and both commenting on Commedia dell’arte as it goes, complete with audience interaction. Highly recommended.
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.