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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 00:53 GMT
Honour for Play School star
Floella Benjamin
Floella Benjamin now sits on the Millennium Commssion
Children's television presenter Floella Benjamin has been made an OBE for services to broadcasting.

She is best known to a generation as the presenter of the BBC's pre-school children's programme Play School, alongside mute co-stars Humpty, Jemima, and Little Ted.

But now she runs her own production company, and is also chairman of the film and television organisation Bafta.

She has promoted the Commonwealth around the world, and sits on the government's Millennium Commission alongside former Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam, and former Conservative deputy leader Michael Heseltine.

Hippy star

Born in Trinidad, she emigrated to the UK as a child in the early 1960s, where her family settled in the south London suburb of Beckenham.

She left with two A levels, eight O-levels, a talent for athletics, and a passion to become the first ever black woman bank manager.

Benjamin passed her part one banking diploma, but her love for acting won her over, and her first major role was in the hippy musical Hair.

Her big break came when she was cast as a prostitute in the prison drama Within These Walls.

But it was her love for children which shone through, and she has now been involved with children's television for 23 years.

She once said: "I love working with children. It's particularly gratifying because I feel I'm able to communicate with children of all kinds."

Benjamin lives in London with her husband Keith Taylor, who she met on the UK tour of Hair. The couple have two children, Aston and Alvina.

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17 May 99 | Entertainment
Made in the 70s, still going strong
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