Beloved Australian entertainer and Play School host John Hamblin dies, age 87

Sep 22, 2022
John Hamblin quickly became a fan favourite among both children and their parents during his 30 years as a presenter on Play School. Source: ABC Communications.

Australian entertainment icon and Play School stalwart, John Hamblin, sadly passed away on Wednesday, September 21 at the age of 87.

Affectionately known as “Naughty John” for his often irreverent sense of humour and use of double-entendres during skits, Hamblin quickly became a fan favourite among both children and their parents during his 30 years as a presenter on Play School. 

Born in 1935 in Suffolk, England, Hamblin had originally trained at art school before choosing to pursue a career in acting instead and began studying drama.

Hamblin’s acting career commenced in the theatre with the Theatre Royal in Windsor before making an appearance on the television series The Prisoner.

Upon his arrival to Australia in the 1960s, Hamblin began work with the Sydney Theatre Company before securing roles in television soap operas such as Number 96, Class of ’74, The Young Doctors, and Sons and Daughters throughout the 1960 and 1970s.

Hamblin played the role of Michael Chamberlain in the 1984 telemovie The Disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain and following a break from acting he appeared in guest roles in television series such as All Saints and Love My Way in the 1990s and 2000s.

However, his most iconic role came in 1970 when he took on presenter duties with the popular children’s show Play School where he featured in over 350 episodes before retiring from the program in 1999.

Hamblin delighted fans when he returned for a special guest appearance as part of Play School’s 50th Anniversary special in 2016.

ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist Jennifer Collins described Hamblin as “an unforgettable presenter whose comedic timing and wit helped cement Play School as one of Australia’s most cherished children’s programs”.

“John had a wicked sense of humour and was not afraid of a double-entendre,” Collins said.

“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.”

Upon hearing of Hamblin’s passing, fans and high profile figures alike joined Collins in paying tribute to the cherished Australian presenter.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd paid his condolences to Hamblin who brought “delight to little ones everywhere”.

Australian singer and co-host of Today Extra, David Campbell, expressed that he was “so sad to hear of John Hamblin’s passing”.

Federal Labor Member for Perth, Patrick Gorman offered his “condolences to his family, friends and ABC colleagues”.

Popular children’s entertainers The Wiggles considered Hamblin “a pioneer of early childhood entertainment” who “inspired all of the OG Wiggles”.

Hamblin is survived by his children Emma and Myles.

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