Nineties Nostalgia*: The Book Place

*Alliteration is awesome.

The first of a new [irregular] series of posts, in which I reminisce about things from my childhood.  I predict that the majority of these posts will be about 90s television.

One of the few clips from The Book Place available on the internet, guest-starring none other than Ben Folds!

The Book Place [an educational program that aired on Channel 7 between 1992 and 2003] was one of those shows that I only ever watched on school holidays.  Featuring a puppet worm – appropriately named Bookworm – it mainly consisted of books being read to small children.  Strangely, there is very little information about this show online – I can’t find a Wikipedia page or an IMDb listing.  What I did find, however, was the tracklisting for The Book Place Album, featuring such delightful tunes as “Shang Wang Doodle”, “The Frog Song” and “The Yuketty – Poo Song”.

[Source]

I don’t remember any of these songs.  In fact, I don’t remember all that much about the show, aside from the theme song [“It’s a magical place, in The Book Place, where anything can happen…”], Bookworm, and the fact that books were read.

The internet has given me two other pieces of information about The Book Place [thanks, Google].  The first is a series of quotes about its background from a forum poster known as Asherbella [edited for very basic grammar/punctuation]:

‘The Book Place’ was devised by childhood education ‘experts’ after child psychologists said that ‘Fat Cat’ on Channel Seven had absolutely no therapeutic/educational value to children: so that’s why ‘The Book Place’ was based on literature study/engagement.
A good psychologist friend of mine, Dr. Drake, helped devise this TV show.

The worm was devised as a model of ‘industrious enthusiasm’ to inspire children to associate reading books with a figure that represented ‘considerate, engaging & diligent’ interest in literature. Originally they were going to choose an owl (ie. associated with wisdom) but a UK childrens’ show had already patented a ‘book owl’ and Aussie producers didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism. So they went with the ‘book worm’.

The worm was originally going to be beige in colour, but after it was made the producers reckoned it looked like a big turd, so they changed the colour to orange! True! lol

– via SameSame

I don’t know exactly how accurate this information is, but it does make sense.  The show, or what I remember of it, certainly was trying to promote reading.  Although, I’m not sure if they did a terribly good job.  While I remember watching The Book Place, I don’t really remember enjoying it that much.  Yes, it’s an iconic piece of Australian children’s television [despite the internet almost forgetting its existence], it really was quite boring.

The other thing that the internet gave me, was this interview with a “former child star of The Book Place.  It really proves the show’s low production value – shooting kids in people’s lounge rooms and paying them with chocolate bars.

So, I’m calling out to you, people of the internet.  Australian children of the 90s – did you watch The Book Place?  What do you remember?

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13 Comments

  • Glenn
    6 years ago

    I remember this show! Though, I didn’t realise I did until just then.
    The woman at the start is now the London correspondent for Sunrise, I think it is.

  • Glenn
    6 years ago

    I was right. It’s Nuala Hafner, and it mentions the show on her Wikipedia page. So that’s one more mention of it on the internet.

  • 6 years ago

    Interesting! She’s done pretty well for herself.

    I did also find the MySpace profile of the musician guy [the one holding the guitar on the CD cover]. And the show is mentioned on the “List of Seven Network Programs” [or something like that] page on Wikipedia. I’m still surprised that it doesn’t have a page of its own.

  • 4 years ago

    I co-produced a show in the late 80’s at Channel 10 in Brisbane called The Early Bird Show. It was a cartoon hosting and as part of the show we had a segment with a book worm (Horace Wormly) which dealt with children’s books.
    After the show ended I went for an interview at Channel 7 with the executive producer (Hal Croxen – I think?) – and during this interview I played a tape of the book worm which he showed keen interest in. The Book Place went to air at Channel 7 shortly after – co-incidence, I think not baby puppy.
    Sorry, as much as psychologists and children’s learning experts were involved in the production of the show, I don’t think they were the initial catalyst.
    I still have that puppet which I made and operated and there is a pic of him on my website.

  • 4 years ago

    Hello Randy. Thanks for that factoid! I’ve not heard of The Early Bird Show [I’m not from Brisbane, and probably a bit too young]. But it’s interesting to see that the whole bookworm idea existed in a different form before Channel 7 created the series. As I said in my post, there is very little information about The Book Place on the internet, so thanks for adding a piece to the puzzle.

    Also, I clicked over to your website [to have a look at the puppet], and oh my – you have a very impressive list of production credits! Again, thanks for stopping by and offering your insight. I’d love to pick your brains about your art and design work sometime.

  • Ben
    4 years ago

    Hello. I came across this when I looked up The Book Place on Google Images. There is an IMDb entry for it, by the way. I think that I can recollect it as well. Lynn Weston was rather a sexually attractive woman.

  • Ben
    4 years ago

    Salutations once more. There is in addition a Wikipedia entry for “The Book Place.”

  • 4 years ago

    Hello Ben. Either the IMDb page and Wikipedia article are both relatively new, or I was having some real issues with basic Google searches when I wrote this piece!

    (On checking – it looks like the Wikipedia article was only created in January! They took their bloody time…)

  • sam
    3 years ago

    My niece was in a christmas ep of the book place it was filmed at her kindy I have tried over the years to find a copy but to no avail. Such a shame as it was a very fun show.

  • 3 years ago

    I have also tried to find The book place on the internet, after looking through google. The closest thing I could find was the wikipedia page, which had very little info at all. However, I decided to try youtube since I am currently addicted and to my surprise they have a few episodes! Yay!
    watching my first episode in such a long time actually bought back memories and I really think they should bring back an updated version.
    anyway I discovered that at the end of one of the episodes on YT in the credits that it may have been filmed in Adelaide. It was quite blurry as the episodes are old quality but they mention familiar Adeladian suburbs 🙂 check it out for yourself!

    I remember this show from when I was quite young, in fact I remember watching it every morning and being excited about it! – It was very interesting from a four year olds perspective! 🙂

  • Linn
    2 years ago

    I was filmed at my primary school in Adelaide for an episode. I have no idea which one but it was in my Japanese class and I had a vhs copy but I have misplaced it which I am devastated about. I don’t remember much but I remember I was excited to be on TV.

  • Cass
    2 years ago

    My sister and I used to watch this! In one episode there was a book which featured the line “almost, but not quite.’ I have looked many many times over the last few years to find the name/author of this book. Its the only thing i can remember about it, besides laughing hysterically with my sister about it. I’d love to find out the name of this book

  • 12 months ago

    I remember hating it. I was probably a little old for it by the time it was on, but I distinctly remember feeling as though it was actively trying to bore children and adults alike to death — or at least away from reading.

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