The retrospective documentary, Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years of Play School, which aired on Monday night, would have revived special memories for many.
Nothing surprising there as the iconic ABC program has been “must watch” TV for millions of Australian children down the years – many of whom are not now so young.
But what was perhaps surprising was the “racy” moments revealed in the behind-the-scenes doco.
For many, the 2004 “Through The Windows” segment which featured a girl going to an amusement park with her two “mums” (pictured) would have been a distant memory.
But at the time it created a political storm with senior (Howard) government ministers aghast that the ABC would expose young children to same-sex parenting.
Shock, horror was the order of the day – in Canberra anyway. The program came just days after the federal government decided to ban same-sex couples from marrying or adopting children.
The young girl involved didn’t have any problems – at the time she thought she was “just as famous as Britney Spears”.
And reflecting today, she says: “I knew my family was okay; I knew their love was real.”
But acting Prime Minister John Anderson had a different take, claiming the story reflected the hopes and aspirations of some adults and in some ways sought to justify and promote the idea of gay parenting.
“I think before the views, interests and perspectives of adult parents are put forward, the first consideration should be for the children who can’t speak for themselves,” he said.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, warned the ABC against becoming “too politically correct”.
“I think I’m representing the majority of Australian parents,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“My kids watch Play School. I think it is an excellent production, but I think it’s important for those program producers to ensure that they are not just responding to minorities … I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
And some things just never change.
The Health Minister of the day was none other than Tony Abbott, whose three daughters were then aged 10, 12 and 14.
“I think that if I’d been watching it with my kids, I’d have been a bit shocked.”
The documentary also included recollections of the (in?)famous sexual innuendo from presenter John Hamblin and the bouncing assets of Benita Collings.
Busty Benita used to appear braless on the children’s show until ABC producers asked her to start wearing a bra so her assets were not such a distraction.
If you missed the documentary you can watch the full version here. (The same-sex “mums” are interviewed at the 45 minute mark).