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Play School’s John Hamblin dies aged 87

Vale “Naughty John”
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Australian TV icon John Hamblin has passed away aged 87. 

John was best known for his role as a Play School presenter for almost 30 years.

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Starting in 1970, John presented over 350 episodes of Play school. He was the second most prolific presenter behind Benita Collings who appeared in 401 episodes.

John’s cheeky sense of humour and use of double-entendres earned him the affectionate nickname “Naughty John”.

John on Play School
John retired from Play School in 1999 (Credit: ABC)

“John was an unforgettable presenter whose comedic timing and wit helped cement Play School as one of Australia’s most cherished children’s programs,” ABC Director Jennifer Collins said.

“John had a wicked sense of humour and was not afraid of a double-entendre. His presence always managed to keep both our toddler target audience and their parents equally engaged with the show. I would like to extend my condolences to John’s family at this sad time.”

John retired from the program in 1999 but returned as a special guest for Play School’s 50th Anniversary in 2016.

John and Benita Collings
John was the second most prolific Play School presenter behind Benita Collings (Credit: ABC)

Beyond Play School, John had a prolific TV career starting in the 1960s. He appeared in soap operas such as in soap operas Number 96, Class of ’74, The Young Doctors, Case for the Defence and Sons and Daughters.

He also starred in the telemovie The Disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, as Michael Chamberlin. In the 2000s he had guest roles on shows like All Saints and Love My Way.

Tributes from Australian celebrities have been pouring in overnight. 

David Campbell who had an opportunity to perform with John has a child said, “So sad to hear about John Hamblin’s passing. Grew up with him in Play School and was stoked when I got to play his son in “Away” at the Sydney Theatre Company. My condolences to his family.”

Fellow ABC presenter Natasha Mitchell also shared her memories of John.

“Oh my gosh. John Hamblin was a daily face in my childhood. He created so, so much fun …Rest in Peace and thank you from all the Gen X and Y kids who enjoyed your 29 years on Play School!” she said.

John is survived by his two children Emma and Myles.

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