‘Play School’ presenters were ‘stoned out of their minds’

A new documentary reveals that sex and drugs were rife at TV Centre

Presenters of classic BBC childrens’ show Play School would openly get stoned on air, it was been revealed.

Johnny Ball, who was one of the presenters of the pre-school standard for a period during its 1964 to 1988 run, has said in a new documentary that he witnessed co-presenters “absolutely stoned out of their minds”.

He said: “There was Rick Jones, Lionel Morton and myself. They got stoned on the biggest joint you’ve ever seen – in the studio. We were in silhouette as the three shepherds with our crooks. Lionel purposefully held his crook so the joint didn’t show. They were absolutely stoned out of their minds.”

But Ball, the father of presenter and DJ Zoe Ball, said he did not partake himself, adding: “I couldn’t work with it. I really couldn’t.” The revelations will be screened on BBC4 documentary Tales Of TV Centre on May 17, according to The Sun.

The film reveals that the drug use was widely tolerated in other parts of the BBC. Joan Bakewell said of visiting musicians: “Of course they smoked and they didn’t smoke ordinary cigarettes.” Former BBC2 controller David Attenborough added that he used to appeal to guests: “Look, please don’t smoke that stuff openly so we can all smell it. Just be sensible.”

Meanwhile, Doctor Who stars reveal the amount of sex that was going on at TV Centre. Katy Manning, who played companion Jo Grant in the 1970s, said, “People were bonking all over the BBC. Everybody was doing it on the premises.”

Janet Fielding, who played companion Tegan Jovanka for a period in the 1980s, added: “Nobody cared whether you had sex in your dressing room.”