Tributes pour in for beloved Australian entertainer John Hamblin

Sep 23, 2022
Fans and fellow entertainment figures across Australia took to social media to share their most treasured memories of the late performer while offering their condolences. Source: ABC Communications.

Australia’s entertainment world has farewelled yet another one of its favourites following passing of beloved entertainer John Hamblin on Wednesday, September 21 at the age of 87.

Despite a long career on the Australian stage and screen, Hamblin was best known for his presenter role on the popular children’s program Play School. His often irreverent sense of humour and use of double-entendres during skits not only earned him the monicker of “Naughty John” but also made him a fan favourite among both children and their parents during his 30 years with the program.

Fellow presenter Benita Collings revealed to the ABC that Hamblin “was great to work with” as she paid tribute to her late former co-host.

“You never quite knew it was scripted … he knew the script, however, he was deliciously just a little bit off key at times, and that was lovely because it made him a very different presenter and not straight … it was great fun,” Collings said.

With all the fun that she enjoyed on set alongside Hamblin, Collings found it difficult to narrow down simply one favourite moment.

“I don’t know because there was never a sort of favourite moment with John you knew you had to be on your toes, ready for anything. He would make such a joy out of the script. That was the thing, it was a script you learnt and you came in and you did it,” she said.

“Oh my gosh, he would alter something just a tiny bit that it would throw you, and you’d go with the flow. That was the joy of working with him.”

Collings said she would always remember Hamblin “as somebody who was wicked, was funny, always there for you”.

“You never kind of went, ‘Oh, what is happening?’ You knew if you stumbled or forgot your line or something like that, he would pick up and continue on,” she revealed.

“(I have) very fond memories of him. And last night when I heard the news, it was a shock because you sort of think people just go on forever and they don’t.”

ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist Jennifer Collins joined Collings as some the first to pay tribute to Hamblin, describing him 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.”

Fond memories of Hamblin were not just shared among those within the ABC, fans and fellow entertainment figures across Australia took to social media to share their most treasured memories of the late performer while offering their condolences.

Journalist and media commentator Melissa Hoyer admitted to having “a major crush” on Hamblin who she described as “out Play School prince”.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Hamblin’s passing was “really said” and described him as a man who brought “delight to little ones everywhere”.

Fellow iconic Australian children’s entertainers, The Wiggles, also offered their condolences to “a pioneer of childhood entertainment” and even cited him as a major inspiration to the original Wiggles crew.

Federal Labor member for Canberra, Alicia Payne thanked Hamblin who “was a huge part” of her childhood.

Today Extra co-host and singer David Campbell spoke of how “stoked” he was to perform alongside Hamblin in Away while expressing sadness over his passing.

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, it was role as presenter with the popular children’s show Play School in 1970 that will long be considered his most iconic role. Hamblin 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.

Hamblin is survived by his children Emma and Myles.

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