former play school Host Benita Collings has paid tribute to former co-host John Hamblin, who died this week aged 87.
Speaking to ABC, she recalled, “He was great to work with. You never really knew it was a script…he knew the script but he was deliciously just a little wrong at times and that was nice because it made him a very different presenter and not straight…it was great fun. “
Hamblin spent nearly 30 years as play school Host who earned the nickname “Naughty John” for his cheeky humor aimed at the adult viewers.
Collings says while they didn’t socialize, their on-camera relationship was real.
“We had our own lives, we had our partners, wives or husbands, whatever it was,” she explained.
“We were always rehearsing play school a week and then you go home and learn the script, you learn your camera cuts and so you knew what camera was on at what time… so when you came back to the studio it was all settled. I remember the cameramen were great because if you looked at the wrong camera, looked up and looked at the camera, you saw this arm coming out of the camera that you were supposed to be looking at and pointing at it.
“Well – it was great fun. It was a pleasure to do this.”
When asked about her favorite moments from working with Hamblin, she had a hard time choosing.
“I don’t know because there was never any kind of favorite moment…. With John, you knew you had to be on the ball – ready for anything. He would bring so much joy out of the script. That was the thing, it was a script that you learned and you came in and you did it,” she said.
“Oh my god, he would change something just a little bit that would upset you and you would go with the flow. That was the joy of working with him.”
Like Collings, Hamblin has been busy as a part-time actor with shows such as Class of ’74, The Young Doctors, The Troubled Years and The disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.
“At first it was just like a job and I don’t hang it up, but it was a job and we often did other dramas and TV and film and theater and so on and then came back and did more play schools.
“It wasn’t until a few years later that I suddenly thought, ‘Wait a minute, this actually has an impact not just on the kids, but as you said, on the parents,’ you know.”
When asked how she would remember Hamblin, Collings replied, “When someone who was nasty, was funny, was always there for you, you never kind of said, ‘Oh, what’s up?’ You knew if you stumbled or forgot your line or something, he would pick you up and move on.
“(I have) very good memories of him. And when I heard the news last night, it was a shock because you kind of think people just go on forever and they don’t.”