Play School (1984)

Concept and creative process

'Play School' was an iconic British children's television series which was created by Joy Whitby for pre-school children, produced on BBC Two and later on BBC One. It ran from 21 April 1964 until 11 March 1988. The programme took on a new look in 1983, but the format remained true to its original aims with a mix of presenters, stories, songs, poems, makes, games and the famous and popular stuffed toys Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty, Poppy and Jemima, which have been conserved and are on display at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. Another constant element was the film insert or outside broadcast giving a glimpse of activities in the outside world through one of the ‘Play School’ house windows, which one it might be the audience were invited to guess. The show had several different titles during its run. In 1983 the house had received a radical makeover as a house without windows and just a door, which was assembled flat pack style during an animated sequence of multicoloured broad brush strokes, with the simpler voiceover: "Get ready. To play. What's the day? It's..." 

'Why the Agouti Has No Tail' by Grace Hallworth was illustrated by Tom Brooks who took two days to produce the twelve illustrations using a wash-back technique with white paint and additional colours being used as a mask for the black areas of the painting. The image was then covered over with soluble black ink which was finally washed off to reveal the finished illustration and then dried and mounted.

'Why the Agouti Has No Tail' illustrations by Tom Brooks

'Play School' story illustrations by Tom Brooks