BEING a Play School presenter is a tougher gig than you might imagine.
"People think it's all improvised, but it's not — it's 60 pages of new dialogue and songs every episode," said Rachael Coopes, who joins the show as it celebrates 45 years on air.
On the flipside, she suddenly has a lot more kudos with her friends' kids, she said laughingly, "which is pretty hard to beat".
"It's obviously a privilege and an honour [to join Play School] and, for that reason probably, I was a lot more nervous when I started than I was in most jobs," said Coopes, who grew up watching Noni Hazlehurst present A Bear in There.
Coopes will be at Parramatta RSL on Tuesday and she invites her little fans to now go on an adventure with her, to help Big Ted, Prince of Bears find his castle. "We will meet many different toys along the way that help him," she said.
Coopes' roles have varied greatly, from playing Sigourney in the SBS satirical series Life Support to veterinarian Ingrid Marr in McLeod's Daughters.
She has also hosted a finance web-based television series episode and has produced plays, including Art House which previewed in London at The Old Red Lion and then Zoo Venue at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Coopes is also involved with the Australian Theatre for Young People, which has commissioned her to write a play with The Sapphires director, Aboriginal actor and writer Wayne Blair, about the experiences of children living in Katherine in the Northern Territory, with whom she works closely as a teacher.
"But I can retire now," she quipped.
"I've done Play School.
"It's such a dream job.
"As grown-ups we rarely get that freedom, to remember what it was like to be a kid."