Play School: Where are your favourite '90s and '00s hosts now?

They had games to play and stories to tell.

You can age anyone in Australia by asking who was presenting ABC kids' show Play School when they were a kid. If you were a pre-schooler (or had one) in the '90s or 2000s, some of the hosts who would be most familiar to you would be Rhys, Jay, Monica, Simon, Colin and Matt.

And while most of the show's hosts stuck around for a while, there is a time when all of them waved a fond farewell and handed over to the next generation. So just where are these memorable presenters now?

Rhys Muldoon

Like most modern hosts of Play School, Rhys was already a well-known actor recognisable from Chances, Big Sky and The Secret Life of Us when he got the audition for the ABC children's show.

Former Play School presenter Rhys Muldoon attends the red carpet screening of Interceptor at The Ritz on May 25, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.
Former Play School presenter Rhys Muldoon has continued acting both on TV and in film. Photo: WireImage

"It turns out, just to get an audition is a big deal. I'm not sure why they asked me (I was known as a bit of a scallywag at the time) but was very glad they did," he said in 2006.

While he spent 12 years on the show, it didn't stop him doing other acting jobs as well. He appeared in the TV adaptation of Tim Winton's children's tale Lockie Leonard while also being a Play School host and after the show, returned to adult dramas such as House Husbands, Jack Irish and Les Norton and the film Interceptor.

Rhys can soon be seen in Aussie TV series North Shore with British stars John Bradley and Joanne Froggatt.


Jay Laga'aia

New Zealand musician and actor Jay Laga'aia was a familiar face for his role on Water Rats before landing Play School. Since then he is probably best known as Captain Gregar Typho in Star Wars episodes II and III and as Elijah Johnson in Home And Away.

Jay Laga'aia on stage at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens fan event at Sydney Opera House on December 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.
Jay Laga'aia, while much loved for Play School, is probably better known for Star Wars now. Photo: Getty Images

The 60-year-old has also brought up eight children aged between 40 and 13 with wife Sandra who is head of maths at a Sydney high school.

But he is yet to slow down. He has one film, Shadow Wars, in post-production and he is about to star with Rebel Wilson in the musical comedy movie The Deb.

Monica Trapaga

Jazz singer Monica Trapaga was on the show for eight years and also sang the Bananas in Pyjamas song on Play School but she claims she was sacked when she got too old.

Cabaret star Monica Trapaga performs her act.
Jazz singer Monica Trapaga believes she was let go from Play School for being too old. Photo: Greg Wood/AFP via Getty Images

"The kids loved them, the show was going great, but somewhere along the way, some executive decided to do a sweep of all the older generation presenters," she told The Australian in 2021, saying all the older presenters were replaced by "young soapy types".

After Play School she spent six years presenting on Better Homes and Gardens before returning to her first love, music.

Simon Burke

Simon spent 20 years presenting Play School so it's no wonder he looks so familiar to so many people.

Actor Simon Burke addresses guests during a media call for Moulin Rouge! the Musical at Cafe Sydney on March 14, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.
Former Play School host Simon Burke continues to work as an actor both in the theatre and on TV. Photo: WireImage

He has also featured on a lot of iconic Australian TV shows including The Alice, All Saints and Rake. He also loves the theatre and has been travelling with Moulin Rouge! The Musical as Harold Zidler since 2021.

Asked by Stellar magazine whether he had ever wanted to be a father, he replied: "Look, word on the street is that I’ve brought up a couple of million Australian kids, anyway," referring to his years starring on Play School.

Colin Buchanan

Australian country music star Colin Buchanan was brought on to present Play School when they revamped the show in 1992.

 Colin Buchanan performs during the Tamworth Country Music Festival 50th Anniversary Concert on April 21, 2022 in Tamworth, Australia.
Country music star Colin Buchanan has picked up nine Golden Guitar Awards since his first appearance on Play School. Photo: Getty Images

Post-Play School, he has released a number of children's, Christian and Country music albums and continues to tour. He is a nine time Golden Guitar Award winner for his country music.

Matt Passmore

Bucking the trend, Matt Passmore actually started his career on Play School.

Portrait shot of actor Matt Passmore
Matt Passmore is now a star on US TV and his fans probably don't know of his children's TV beginnings. Photo: Getty Images

After successful roles on Australian TV including McLeod's Daughters, Underbelly and Last Man Standing, he moved to the US where he has starred in shows such as The Glades, Satisfaction and Younger.

He can soon be seen alongside his Play School co-presenter Rhys in Aussie TV series North Shore and upcoming horror thriller The Host App.

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