Playhouse Disney UK (partially lost interstitial material of children's TV channel; 1999-2006)

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Playhouse Disney UK Dave and Alex.png

A picture of Big Dave and Little Alex, the main presenters.

Status: Partially Lost

Playhouse Disney was a brand used by The Walt Disney Company for the preschool strand on Disney Channel around the world, and was also its own dedicated channel in a few regions outside North America.

About[edit | edit source]

Playhouse Disney outside the United States for many years was completely different from its US counterpart, featuring a format set within a live-action "Playhouse" set that contained the main room, a bedroom, an attic, a bathroom, and a garden. It was produced and created by Andrew Beecham, who later would go on to work for NBCUniversal and run PBS Kids Sprout.

The United Kingdom was the first to use this format, which on Disney Channel replaced the already-existing "Underfives" block on September 29, 1999. The presenters who fronted this version were legendary British children's presenter Dave Benson Phillips (Nicknamed as "Big Dave") and newcomer Alex Lovell (Nicknamed as "Little Alex"). The two would dance, sing, interact with the audience and do activities in relation to a "Day", where the focus would be on a related topic, like a hobby, an activity, a part of the body, an animal, or a character featured on the block/channel. A year later, Playhouse Disney expanded to its own channel on Sky Digital (and later on Cable). In later years, the Disney Channel block was removed, and a puppet named Monty Mole joined the channel, appearing with Dave and Alex on occasion.

Other mini-segments featured in the main portion included a Birthday segment, which featured Dave and Alex interacting and dancing with a talking/singing Birthday cake named Victoria Sponge (Voiced by Michael Omer, the format's composer from 1999-2002, and later Dave Benson Phillips himself from 2002-2003) and then later interacting with Mickey the Mouse, a real-life mouse who lived in a smaller replica of the Playhouse.

Viewer-sent Images were also shown off. Normally, Dave or Alex would retrieve these from the Playhouse Postman (played by Phil Gallagher) and would soon put them down. Then, two talking picture-heads/gargoyles named Auntie Rosie and Uncle Charlie (Voice actors unknown) would come to life when Dave or Alex was not around. Normally, they would trick the presenters by doing things like ringing the doorbell so they could talk while they never noticed. Normally, after the segments were finished, the two presenters would ask the viewers about them and would be certain they never did a thing. Sometimes, a character called "Mini Jack" (played by Phil Gallagher) would interract with Dave in the early days.

Alongside this main format, there were several alternate programs/strands featured as well:

  • Circle Time - Presented by Jason Canning (Jason Anthony as of late-2018), this strand featured Jason with a group of children who would draw, and would inspire him to tell a story told with pictures sent in by real-life viewers. It is very similar to a strand of the same name used on the US Playhouse Disney block. The strand was retired in 2003 after Canning's departure.
  • Art Play - This strand focused on making and creating a Disney-inspired art piece or thing with items you can find at home. The first version was presented by Sara-Louise Harper, who did the work with some children. After she left in 2003 after pregnancy, she was replaced with a new presenter named Olivia Bonnochi, with the second version featuring a changed format that features her and a puppet made out of household goods named Splodge doing the work themselves.
  • Music Time - This strand featured Dave or Alex singing a Disney song on location.
  • Bite Size - A cookery show made for children that originally debuted as a stand-alone program on Disney Channel in 1998 before becoming a Playhouse Disney strand. Dave (as "Deep-Fried Dave") would make a Disney-related food dish with puppet Mitzi the Oven Glove (Puppeted and voiced by Cathrine Smee). In the show's early days, other presenters also fronted the program, known ones being Karl Wooley (as "Krispy Karl"), and Sophie Aldred (as "Stir-Fry Sophie").
  • Paws - An animal strand fronted by a presenter named Nick Spellman. This segment was added in late-2000 and currently, is the only strand to currently be fully lost.
  • The Story Garden - A story-book-related strand fronted by a woman named Pumpkin (Actor unknown). This segment was added in mid-2002, and is similar to Circle Time in a way with the viewer-sent images. However, unlike Circle Time, Pumpkin puts herself in the story as she tells it.

In Mid-2004, a new strand titled PJ's Bedtime was introduced. This new strand featured Dave and new presenter Olivia, helping the puppet PJ Mole (Puppeteered and voiced by Marcus Clarke) get ready for bed.

By September 2004, the segments were given a makeover, with a new-look set and new shirts for Dave and Alex. Almost all of the 2004-2005 segments are lost apart from a TV advert from the latter year that was included on "The Songs of Playhouse Disney" DVD. By 2006, everything from the era had been retired following Playhouse Disney and sister channel Disney Channel's transition from being premium add-on networks into standard channels.

Other items[edit | edit source]

Playhouse Disney UK has seen very little merchandise, with what came out from this era being very rare and hard to find.

A promotional VHS given out with Practical Parenting magazine was released in 2000, which contained especially-recorded segments of Little Alex showcasing what Playhouse Disney was about. Some of the clips featured on the tape were uploaded to YouTube by the composer Michael Omer's official channel in 2009, and the entire tape was later uploaded onto the site by the user "VHS dump" on March 28, 2021. [1]"The cover to the tape was also lost until it was ripped by VHS dump to fellow Playhouse Disney archivist LTPHarry, who soon uploaded the cover to the Disney Wiki on Fandom.

A promotional CD sampler titled "Come On, Join In" was released by Walt Disney Records in Mid-2003 which featured three Playhouse songs, and three songs from different shows. This release is notable as it features the only high-quality version of the Bite Size song "We're Cooking". Other than a low-quality scan of the cover, the content on this CD was considered lost until the user LTPHarry purchased a copy on eBay in February 2020 and uploaded it to the Internet Archive. [2]

A full CD/DVD release titled "The Songs of Playhouse Disney" was released in September 2005 by Warner Vision International. The DVD consisted of sing-along versions of some of the songs featured on the CD. Clips from the DVD were previously uploaded to an unknown YouTube account until it was terminated in the 2010s, however LTPHarry soon bought a copy and "re-uploaded" the Playhouse-related videos from the DVD on YouTube, and uploaded the whole CD onto the Internet Archive.[3]

Live Show[edit | edit source]

A live show toured shopping centres around the UK from 2001-2003. Other than a few pictures from the 2002 event and website information from the 2003 event, very little is known about them as they were solely produced to promote the channel.

Known "Days"[edit | edit source]

Many of the listed days for each year are practically unknown as there has never been a full list featured, and as of 2021, only 2002's entire day listing has been found.[4]

1999[edit | edit source]

  • Bear Day (Partly Found on the Discover Playhouse Disney VHS)
  • Noisy Day (Partly Found on the Discover Playhouse Disney VHS)

2001[edit | edit source]

  • Baby Day

2002[edit | edit source]

  • Boat Day
  • Flying Day
  • Train Day
  • Garden Day
  • Carnival Day
  • Silly Day
  • Decorating Day
  • Poorly Day
  • Winnie The Pooh Day
  • Time Day
  • Shell Day
  • Uniform Day
  • Stanley Day
  • Monster Day
  • Holiday Day
  • Cleaning Day
  • Hair Day
  • Excercise Day
  • Hot Day
  • Cold Day

Unknown[edit | edit source]

  • Post Day (Partly Found)
  • Bug Day (Partly Found)
  • Shapes Day (Partly Found)
  • Space Day

Strands with partially-found segments[edit | edit source]

Circle Time[edit | edit source]

  • The Bouncy Ball[5]
  • Goofy's Christmas[6]
  • Henry the Hippo[7]
  • The Little Cloud[8]
  • The Magic Laces[9]
  • Lucy and the Lolly Sticks[10]
  • The Slowest Snail[11]

Art Play[edit | edit source]

  • Buzz Lightyear
  • Aladdin's Magic Carpet[12]
  • Mitzi the Oven Glove (Found on the Discover Playhouse Disney VHS)

Music Time[edit | edit source]

  • Never Smile at a Crocodile[13]
  • Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah[14]
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious[15]
  • I Wan'na Be Like You[16]
  • It's a Small World[17]
  • The Bare Necessities

Bite Size[edit | edit source]

  • Simba Salad[18]
  • Sunshine Toast (Found on the Discover Playhouse Disney VHS)

The Story Garden[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

  • Birthday Segment from 2002[20]
  • Circle Time lead-in from 2001[21]
  • Continuity from February 2001[22]
  • Lineup of continuity links and segments from a 2003 rebroadcast of "Shapes Day" [23]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Disney Channel[edit | edit source]

Playhouse Disney[edit | edit source]

Disney Junior[edit | edit source]

Toon Disney[edit | edit source]

Disney XD[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]