Playdays (known as Playbus until 25 December 1989) was a children's television program from the United Kingdom. The series ran from 17 October 1988 to 28 March 1997 on Children's BBC (CBBC), and was aired in reruns until 2004. The show was the successor of Play School, and, like its predecessor, was designed as an educational programme. The creator Cynthia Felgate had been executive producer of Playschool.
After the show was dropped from CBBC on BBC1, repeats were shown on CBBC on Nickelodeon until 16 July 1999, CBBC on BBC Choice (later known as CBeebies) and CBeebies on BBC Two, until it was axed in August 2004. In 1989, the BBC insisted that the independent production company which made Playbus (Felgate Productions) change the programme's name, after they had received a complaint from the National Playbus Association.
Characters and plot
The main characters of Playdays were puppets known as Why Bird (voiced and manipulated by Fiona Beynon Brown and latterly by Ellie Darvill), Sam Patch - later replaced by Peggy Patch (initially mute but later voiced by Sally Preisig) and Poppy, a cat (voiced by Sue Monroe). They were also accompanied by Mr Jolly (Robin Fritz, later Clive Duncan and then Andy Hockley), who would usually end each programme with a song (usually a nursery rhyme). There were also a number of human presenters including Zoë Ball, Trish Cooke and Dave Benson Phillips.
The show would begin with an animated title sequence of the Playbus driving along to the theme tune until it reached the bus stop, where characters on the bus were Why, Peggy, Poppy, Dot, Humphry, Lizzie, Wobble and Mr. Jolly (from 1988-1991 Sam Patch was on the bus instead of Peggy - even though Peggy succeeded Sam in 1990, Mr. Jolly didn't appear on the bus until 1992 and Poppy didn't appear on the bus until c. 1994). The bus stopped at a different place each day. It was effectively several different TV series under one single branding.
Monday – The Why Bird Stop. Why Bird lived at the Lost Property Office, where things that were left on the Playbus were filed until someone claimed them. She interacted with the human bus driver- there were several throughout the series. She had a special computer called the Why-Tech, which had a variety of uses, it could provide music for songs, pictures for stories, instructions for making something in keeping with the programme's theme, or to help sing a song (e.g. paper sugar buns for Five Currant Buns).
It also showed videos, usually to show how everyday things were made - socks, toothbrushes etc. Sometimes, either Peggy, or Poppy, or both visited the Lost Property Office. In a later series, the office installed a telephone, where people, usually Peggy or Poppy, could phone in asking for particular things, (examples include information about spiders and a night time picture to help someone sleep during the day).
Tuesday – The Playground Stop. A variety of different things involved. The programme always opened with the presenter (several, including Dave Benson Philips), saying, "Lizzie...", followed by the programme's theme, (e.g. we're playing racing games today). The show featured a group of children doing activities, such as pretending to be cooks and making paper meals. Dave was accompanied by a glove puppet named Chester. The programme always featured a rhyme accompanied by Makaton sign language and a marionette named Lizzie Dreams occasionally accompanied by another marionette named Nick. There was also a story, often featuring Max and his magical chest of dressing-up dreams.
Wednesday – The Dot Stop (1988–1992) replaced with The Roundabout Stop (1992–end) - the non-speaking Dot played by Rebecca Higgins, had fun with music or numbers and counting. Later there were 3 Dots: 'The Dot who plays the violin' (Eithne Hannigan), 'The Dot who plays the drums' (Liz Kitchen) and 'The Dot you can count on' (Dyanne White). Sometimes, a puppet called Dash would appear and squirm its way through holes in the set. It had a song: "Not number one, not number two, not number three or four, not number five, not number six, only one Dash can do tricks!" Another pair of puppet friends were Professor Mopp and his blue dog Morgan (who later appeared in the Roundabout Stop). The Violinist and Counting Dots had a sidekick called Mr Domino (Peter Gunn, Stephen Cannon).
Later replaced by the Roundabout Stop. Presented by Mr. Jolly. The show consisted of Rosie preparing a song for Mr. Jolly, a group of children and his friends to guess for the show, with clues and hints along the span of the show such as arts and crafts activities or Mr. Jolly performing a mime in the Story Cupboard. The show also contained regular visitors and activities such as Bitsy Bob (Michele Durler), who played music and made things, and the puppets Morris Cog and Milly Sprocket (Nick Mercer and Michele Durler), who presented a segment called "Morris and Milly's Numerical Melodies", where they sang a song glorifying a particular number.
The show later featured the musician, Charlie Grindle (Nick Mercer), who also appeared as one of the bus drivers from The Why Bird Stop. Charlie often sang songs for them as well.
The main body of the episode featured the characters finding pictures (which were later displayed in different shapes), which came together to form the title of a nursery rhyme, which was performed by the entire cast at the end of the episode. In later episodes (1995–1997) presented by Andy Hockley, the show featured Peggy, Poppy and Why Bird, who rode on the roundabout and went off on adventures (but on some episodes only Peggy and Why went on adventures so on the 3rd shape they would both go together).
At the end of each adventure, a picture associated with it appeared in their shaped ticket (purple circle, orange square, pink triangle, yellow diamond, green arch or blue rectangle), and these would combine to make the song, which ended the episode.
Thursday – The Patch Stop. Featuring Sam Patch, a small scarecrow doll and later replaced by Peggy Patch, a small rag doll who were both very kind natured. Sam and later Peggy would often travel places. From 1994 onwards Peggy would leave clues for children to find her and she would also be joined by Poppy and/or Why Bird later in the episode. She was originally non-speaking, but gained a voice (Sally Preisig) in 1994. Presenters included Vanessa Amberleigh, Teresa Gallagher and Peter Quilter.
Friday – The Tent Stop (1988–1995) replaced with The Poppy Stop (1995–1997). A group of actors including: Trish Cooke, Ricky Diamond, Will Brenton, Sue Monroe & Sarah Davison would dress up, and with the help of some children, perform a play or show.
When the stop became the Poppy Stop, the setting was at Poppy the cat's house, typically presented by Karl Woolley. Why Bird, Peggy Patch and other characters would often also appear in episodes at Poppy's house. At Christmas time, the Playbus would stop at The Christmas Tree Stop. These special episodes featured characters from all the usual stops.
Another character also featured in Playdays was Parsnip, a brown rabbit who was often seen with Peggy at 'The Patch Stop'.
- Dave Benson Phillips
- Vanessa Amberleigh
- Teresa Gallagher: presenter and Dilys Litefoot
- Karl Woolley
- Simon Davies
- Zoë Ball
- Trish Cooke
- Sheila Hyde
- Will Brenton
- Sarah Davison: presenter and Gladys Tootle
- Ricky Diamond
- Robert Hopkins
- Joe Greco
- Nick Mercer: Charlie Grindle & Morris Cog
- Michele Durler: Bitsy Bob & Milly Sprocket
- Dave Rubin: Rhythm Man, presenter
- Carolene Hinds: Leaping Lindy
- Jonathan Griffiths: Stringfellow
- Jeremy Taylor: Sargeant Bandstand
- Paul Morroco : guest presenter
- Allesandro Bernardi : guest presenter
- Zubin Varla: Mr. Santorini
- Mr. Motivator : guest presenter
- Andrew Lynford: presenter
- Fiona Beynon Brown: Why Bird (1988-1989)
- Ellie Darvill: Why Bird (1989-1997)
- Sally Preisig: Peggy Patch
- Sue Monroe: Poppy
- Peter Quilter: guest presenter
- Simon Harbrow: presenter
- Elizabeth Watts: Lizzie, presenter
- Elizabeth Fost
- Frances Dodge
- Robin Fritz: Mr Jolly #1 (1992-1994)
- Clive Duncan: Mr Jolly #2 (1994-1995)
- Andy Hockley: Mr Jolly #3 (1995-1997)
- Patsy Byrne: Betty the Tea Lady
- Catherine Terry: presenter
- Rebecca Higgins: Dot
- Liz Kitchen: Dot (The Dot who can play the drums)
- Eithne Hannigan: Dot (The Dot with the Violin)
- Dyanne White: Dot (The Dot You Can Count On)
- Kristina Stephenson: Dot (only seen on the videos Days on the Move and Days by the Sea)
- Peter Gunn: Mr Domino
- Stephen Cannon: Mr Domino
- Neil Bett: presenter
Playdays also went on various tours during its run. The shows often saw all of the puppet characters coming together and having fun. It also saw Peggy Patch be played by a person because the puppet was too small to see. The first of these shows involved the colours from the Playdays sign being stolen by one Professor Whizz Bang Wallop, with all the characters of each stop having to band together to bring the colours back.
United Kingdom VHS Releases
|VHS Title||Release Date||Notes|
|Playdays - Animated Alphabet BBCV 4282||
2 October 1989
6 April 1992
|A-Z has never been so much fun! It is sprinkled with animated nouns, verbs, adjectives and abstracts that could only work on film.|
|Playdays - Days By The Sea BBCV 4679||6 April 1992||Join Dot as she paints an amazing picture in which she includes all her friends from the Playbus: Why Bird, Lizzie, Peggy Patch, Wobble and Humphrey. There are things to make, songs to join in with, stories, games and all the fun of the fair.|
|Playdays - Days on the Move BBCV 4470||6 April 1992||Join Dot as she paints an amazing picture in which she includes all her friends from the Playbus: Why Bird, Lizzie, Peggy Patch, Wobble and Humphrey. There are things to make, songs to join in with, stories, games and all the fun on the move.|
|Playdays - Dot's Fun with Numbers BBCV 4946||5 April 1993||With stories, games, rhymes and songs - it's fun with numbers all the way!|
|Playdays - Lizzie's Singalong BBCV 5190||3 May 1993||Its time to sing along with fun filled songs for everyone!|
|Playdays - Lizzie and Friends BBCV 5248||5 April 1994||Put on your dancing shoes and Singalong with Lizzie and Friends!|
|Playdays - 2 - on 1 BBCV 6596||7 July 1997||Days on the Move and Days by the Sea together on one tape.|
|Playdays - Winter Adventure||3 November 1997||Promotional video featured in a BBC Children's Magazine|
Playdays has been repeated on BBC1 and BBC2 since its launch in 1988 until 1997 however it was shown in the afternoon on BBC1 til May 1999. CBBC on Choice started showing Playdays from the first day on Monday November 29th 1999 at 8.00am. 11.00am and 2.00pm, a fourth repeat soon came on Monday 3rd April 2000 at 5.00pm but it wasn't long before for the first of two occasions when they swapped Playdays with the Tweenies, Playdays was broadcast at 6.40am, 9.40am, 12.40pm and 3.40pm until Friday 1st September 2000. It was also broadcast on weekends at the same times as weekdays to begin with from Saturday 4th December 1999 and then on Saturday 8th April 2000 it came on at 7.00am, 10.00am, 1.00pm and 4.00pm swapping with ChuckleVision. On Monday 4th September 2000, it was broadcast at 8.00am, 11.00am, 2.00pm and 5.00pm everyday for a year. until Monday September 3rd 2001 when it swapped with the second episode of the Tweenies for 9.00am, 12.00pm, 3.00pm and 6.00pm until Friday 8th February 2002, The weekend times were unaffected. They showed the years 1990 - 1994 and showed The Why Bird Stop on Monday, The Playground Stop on Tuesday, The Roundabout Stop on Wednesday and Saturday, The Patch Stop on Thursday and The Tent Stop on Friday and Sunday. It has also appeared under viewer's requests on Choosy Bits from 2001/02. It's predecessor Playschool (1964-88) was broadcast on CBBC on Choice on Christmas Day, Boxing Day 1999, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2000 showing three festive editions from 1985 called "Christmas Eve", originally shown on Christmas Eve 1985, "It's Christmas Day" originally shown on Christmas Day 1985 and "A Magic Box for Boxing Day!" shown on Boxing Day 1985. Playdays continued to be repeated on the newly-launched CBeebies channel from Monday 11th February 2002 and it was also shown on CBeebies on BBC2 until the Summer of 2002, CBeebies continued to air until August 2004.