John Hamblin, Children's TV Host, Dead at 87

Australian TV presenter John Hamblin has died. Best known as the presenter of the ABC children's program Play School, and affectionately known as "Naughty John," Hamblin passed away Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the age of 87. Hamblin's cause of death was not disclosed.

ABC Director Jennifer Collins confirmed Hamblins' death in a tribute, per In the statement, Collins remembered Hamblin as "an unforgettable presenter whose comedic timing and wit helped cement Play School as one of Australia's most cherished children's programs." Collins shared that Hamblin "had a wicked sense of humour and was not afraid of a double-entendre," adding that the TV presenter's "presence always managed to keep both our toddler target audience and their parents equally engaged with the show." Collins went on to send her "condolences to John's family at this sad time." Hamblin is survived by his children Emma and Myles.

Born in Ash, Surrey, England in 1935, Hamblin joined the Air Force and did his national service in Cyprus in the late 1950s before returning to England, where he trained at art school for six months before opting for a career in acting. He went on to work in repertory theatre with the Theatre Royal, Windsor and made appearances on Number 96, The Young Doctors, Case for the Defense, The Disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, and All Saints, among many others, throughout the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Hamblin was best known, though, from Play School, the ABC children's program he first began hosting in 1970. Beloved for his cheeky sense of humor, he soon became known as "Naughty John" on the show, which is the longest-running children's show in Australia. During his time on the show, Hamblin would sing, read stories, make crafts, play with the toys, and educate children. After nearly three decades and more than 350 episodes, he retired from Play School in 1999, only returning as a special guest as part of Play School's 50th Anniversary special in 2016.


News of Hamblin's death has been met with an outpouring of condolences and tributes online, where many have remembered him as "a daily face" in their childhood. Singer and producer David Campbell wrote that he was "sad to hear about John Hamblin's passing," sharing that he "grew up with him in Play School and was stoked when I got to play his son in 'Away.'" Paying their respects, The Wiggles called Hamblin "a pioneer of early childhood entertainment," adding that he "inspired all of the OG Wiggles, who were total fans. We are so very sad to learn of his passing. Thank you for being you, John."