You Can’t #Hamble the Truth – Play School’s Secret Shame by David E Watters 

No one ever talks about how Hamble was replaced and no one has ever explained where she went. Did she go on to work in other shows? Perhaps a Hollywood career? Nobody seems to care. This has troubled me since the late 1970s. Is it just me? Yes, she didn’t fit in. No, she wasn’t cute and cuddly. Yes, she was an unconventional beauty but why did she just disappear? Was the replacement also called Hamble because, let’s be honest, she didn’t look like Hamble or was it a different girl? I’ll take this worry to the grave. Showbiz is fickle and fame is fleeting #NeverForget

Hamble the doll – the hate figure of the under-fives for the entire run of the programme.

Although it was originally a very common type of doll, sold in Woolworths, by the time Play School was in full flow there were only two Hambles in Britain. The other was owned by a woman in Chester, who would hire it to the BBC for £40 a week whenever the Play School regular was injured.

That happened quite often, as it wasn’t just the audience who detested Hamble. None of the presenters could stand her either, so she’d get drop kicked across the studio, and once, when she wouldn’t behave, Chloe Ashcroft took a dreadful liberty.

“I did a terrible thing to Hamble. She just would not sit up…so one day I got a very big knitting needle, a bit wooden one, and I stuck it right up her bum, as far as her head. So she was completely rigid, and she was much much better after that.”

Hamble was the only toy not to make it through to the end, being replaced by black doll Poppy in an 80s attempt to be more inclusive. That’s their story as to why she went, anyway…


About neverblendin

David Watters, a graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh, Trinity College of Music, London and the Institute of Education, University of London, has worked internationally within education and Educational Management for more than 20 years. He has taught extensively within many socially and culturally diverse settings; most recently as a Head of Performing Arts within Further Education. He is a personal and professional development associate with The Pacific Institute (, personal coach, freelance writer and founding member of NBI Associates. He is a writer on social equality issues, is a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK and author of the forthcoming book, NEVER BLEND IN which features key voices from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and which aims to inspire and encourage those who may lack self-esteem or who question their validity. David is currently promoting a youtube campaign"Give 'em Hope"and is asking individuals, couples and groups to make and share videos telling about the benefits of living with personal authenticity. He has shared a platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell and is a supporter of 17-24-30, The Trevor Project, Schools Out, The Terrence Higgins Trust, The Albert Kennedy Trust and numerous others. His background in arts and education, combined with a solid understanding of Cognitive Behavioural Strategies, and his passion for Equality Advocacy drive every aspect of his work as a personal development facilitator, motivational speaker and writer. View all posts by neverblendin

You must be logged in to post a comment.

%d bloggers like this: