Every afternoon at 4:30 I live with conflict in my heart.
You see, when I was a teen in a small country town, there was a boy I crushed on. His name was Frank, and I had his picture stuck on the wall of my bedroom. But he loved Bobby and then Roo, and sadly never me. He, of course, was Alex Papps from Home and Away, and now every afternoon, there he is again on my TV, and my girlish crush has turned to a womanly one.
But this time my love for him is not because of his boyish good looks and sweet boy next door charm… it’s because he gives me a tiny break to cook dinner without a toddler at my feet, to grab the clothes off the line or have a herbal tea (read Wine) in peace.
God bless Play School.
Alex has been a regular on Play School since 2005, and he’s used his years as a children’s entertainer as inspiration to make his debut album, Let’s Put The Beat In Our Feet.
The CD has 15 fun songs for kids, including Don’t Call Me Mr Grumpy, Buzzy Bee Bop and the quirky The Ghost Who Makes a Smell.
This week I caught up with Alex to ask him about his first experience making a children’s album and his career on Play School, and also to thank him, from the bottom of my heart.
Did you ever foresee that years ago, as you played Frank in Home and Away, that you would be entertaining those same women on Play School watching with their kids?
No, I didn’t, but it’s quite a nice thing doing the concerts and meeting people afterwards and realising that a lot of those parents grew up with you…
Ahem, lusted after you..
Haha! Yes, ahh…
Sorry, that’s awkward of me.
Talking about awkward, is it awkward that you now work with Justine Clarke? She played Roo and you had to kiss a lot…
No, we have been friends a long time and it’s nice we have come full circle. It’s great to work with one of your best friends.
What made you want to do this album, Alex?
I always thought when I joined Play School I’d be silly not to give this a shot, especially working with Justine (Clarke) — I’ve always admired her albums for kids. And I had a ball recording it! It’s been out for about a month now.
You’ve got some interesting song titles like The Ghost Who Makes a Smell. Is that a fun dig at dads?
Yeah, I was wondering if I’d get any complaints about that one, but I figure a bit of gentle toilet humor never goes astray. The kids think it’s great. But it’s not just about dads…
Do you have kids? Do you use them as inspiration?
No, I don’t, but my sister has a little boy who’s just over 18 months now. Hopefully he thinks I’m a cool uncle.
How did you end up on Play School?
I grew up with Play School, like many people, and I always thought it was one of those jobs that would be wonderful to get. So over a 10 year period I’d get my agent to knock on their door and try and get me an audition. It’s notoriously difficult to get an audition because they don’t happen very often but eventually I had the chance and got in. I’m still pretty grateful, it’s a privileged position and it’s a job a lot of actors would love to get. We all feel very lucky to be a part of something so iconic.
Is your table the worst behaved at the Logies each year?
I hate to disappoint you, but I haven’t been since 1990! It’s not a boycott either, I just haven’t been invited.
Do you think doing a show like Play School rules you out from other acting jobs, like Underbelly?
Strangely enough, you’d think that, but it doesn’t at all. Justine Clarke has had a prolific acting career for years, all while she’s been on Play School. Anything that wouldn’t be great for the kids would be on at a later time slot anyway, so they wouldn’t be watching – I hope!
I went to acting school when I was younger. I wanted to be an actress and here I am working in radio, but I actually auditioned for Play School many years ago and I was pretty terrible. it’s really hard reading a story to nobody. It’s a tough gig you do, Alex.
Look, it’s not brain surgery, but it is its own skill, certainly. It’s very different to your usual acting. We only rehearse for four hours each episode and then we record the following week. Part of Play School’s charm is the relaxed and intimate feeling — it isn’t polished to an incredible shine, it’s about keeping it relaxed and life-like.
Do you take your work home with you? Like when you paint your house, is there a splish over here and a splosh over there?
Ha! Thankfully no, but I have taken home some of the cool art and craft and stuck them on the fridge.
Thank you, Alex — just thank you. For that half hour every day that I get to myself because of you, I love you.
Haha! Thank you very much, it’s my pleasure.
You can purchase Alex’s album here.