If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you might remember one of the most beloved Play School presenters ever, Benita Collings.
Benita, aka the Queen of TV, was at the helm of the show for three decades (1969-1999) and more than 400 episodes, becoming one of the most recognisable faces and voices of Play School for generations of Australian children, and simultaneously one of the longest-serving cast members of the show.
If you were anything like me and you would spend most mornings and afternoons singing, dancing and making crafts alongside Benita and her stuffed-toy colleagues Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, and Humpty Dumpty, she was also very likely a lot more than just a recognisable face, but she was also your on-screen mum – a reliable friend, a confidant and mostly, a role model. From teaching us how to brush our teeth (“brush, brush, brush; you mustn’t rush, rush, rush”), to her animal impressions which were a thing of beauty, Benita had a giant heart of gold, and always made us want to be a better person.
In news that’s just as good as the show itself, the team at The National Wool Museum are bringing Benita to Geelong for one night only to coincide with the arrival of the Happy Birthday Play School: Celebrating 50 Years exhibition, filled with Playschool nostalgia is coming to the National Wool Museum this winter!
The exhibition itself marks a milestone birthday for this ABC TV show, and this exhibition provides a rare opportunity for guests to relive their childhood memories, looking through the Round, Square and Arched windows as we bring our childhood stories alive of Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty, Jemima, the Rocket Clock, and reminisce about our all-time favourite presenters.
Encouraging guests to embrace their inner child, on Thursday evening of July 11, Benita will revisit your childhood memories of Playschool – serving up anecdotes and stories from the popular ABC children’s program and her life on screen.
Further appealing to the child within, this evening is channelling a classic sleepover vibe and encouraging guests to dig out a pair of your favourite PJs, whether that be lace slips that nod to the 90’s trend, oversize shirt-dresses, and silk blouses, to matching button-up flannelette, a fleece dressing gown and your favourite pair of Uggs. As long as it’s classy and relatively warm (it is the middle of winter!), you’ll be all set to be tucked in for a night at the Museum!
Don’t be fooled though, this won’t be quite the same experience you had as a child. While you’ll have Benita, some serious nostalgia, and if you ask nicely maybe even a rendition of ‘Little Peter Rabbit’, this time you’ll also get to indulge in retro cakes, inspired by the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Cake Book by famous Geelong cake boutique Cakesmith, and wintery cocktails from Geelong’s renowned cocktail bar, The 18th Amendment. Oh, and better still, your first cocktail is free! We’ll cheers to you, Benita!
To top it all off, your ticket will also grant you entry the aforementioned Happy Birthday Play School: Celebrating 50 Years exhibition, along with entry into Wildlife Photographer of the Year 54 exhibition.
For more information on both special events and the exhibition, visit www.geelongaustralia.com.au.
Please Note: An Evening with Benita Collings is an 18+ event. Book soon to avoid disappointment.
Happy Birthday Play School is a travelling exhibition developed by the National Museum of Australia and the ABC.
This exhibition is supported by the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.
Feature Image: Collection of toys ready for Happy Birthday Play School – © Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2018