Mr. Squiggle from the 1990s
|Also known as||Mr. Squiggle & Friends|
|Genre||Children's television series, Science fiction|
|Created by||Norman Hetherington|
|Voices of||Norman Hetherington|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||41|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Picture format||Black & White (1959–1975)
|Audio format||Mono (1959–1979)
|Original release||1 July 1959 – 9 July 1999|
Mr. Squiggle was Australia's longest-running children's television series, and the name of the title character from that ABC show. The show has been presented on television in many formats, from five minute slots to a one-and-a-half hour variety show featuring other performers, and has had several name changes, originally airing as Mr. Squiggle and Friends. The program at its height, was one of the most popular children's programs and toured theatre and conventions, entertaining several generations who grew with the program.
Mr. Squiggle was created by Norman Hetherington, and the character first appeared on the Children's TV Club on ABC TV, but was spun off into his own programme which first aired on 1 July 1959. Hetherington voiced and operated all of the show's puppets, while his wife Margaret wrote the scripts.
The basic premise of the show remained the same: children wrote in with their "squiggles" and Mr. Squiggle would turn them into recognisable drawings by connecting lines with his pencil nose. More often than not, the picture would be drawn upside down (Hetherington manipulated the puppet from above by viewing the drawing upside down), and then Mr. Squiggle would gleefully declare: "Upside down! Upside down!" – asking his assistant to turn the picture the right way up and reveal the completed drawing.
The last episode went to air just over 40 years after the first, on 9 July 1999. The last episode was produced in 1997. After the show ceased production, the entire cast of puppets from 'Mister Squiggle and Friends' were owned by the show's creator, Norman Hetherington. They have been loaned for display at exhibitions, such as at the National Film and Sound Archive and as part of the "50 Years of TV" exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in 2007. Hetherington and his puppets appeared on the ABC's Collectors TV series in 2010.
Character: Mr Squiggle
Mr. Squiggle was a marionette with a pencil for a nose, who visited his friends from his home at 93 Crater Crescent on the Moon, flying in his pet rocket (named Rocket). In every episode he would create several pictures from "squiggles" sent in by children from around the country. Mr Squiggle was a cheery, scatter-brained character who would often be distracted and would occasionally go for "space-walks", and his assistant would need to calm him down to get him to focus on the task of drawing.
Mr. Squiggle was helped by a human assistant in all of the show's incarnations; they included Miss Gina (Gina Curtis), Miss Pat (Pat Lovell), Miss Jane (Jane Fennell), and later series featured Roxanne (Roxanne Kimmorley) and Rebecca (Rebecca Hetherington, Hetherington's daughter). Comedian Mikey Robins played one of the show's characters, Reg Linchpin, for a year from 1989 to 1990. Other notable guest performers on the show included actor Paul Chubb and magician Timothy Hyde. One of the well-known presenters, actress and film producer Patricia Lovell, an MBE and AO recipient died in 2013, at the age of 83.
Other puppet characters that appeared in the show included:
- Blackboard, the grumpy blackboard that Mr. Squiggle used for an easel, whose catchcries were "Hurrry up", "Hmmph", "Double hmmph" and "Booorrriing".
- Gus the Snail, who had a TV for a shell and later, a flower pot, often told "Knock, Knock" jokes.
- Bill the Steam Shovel, who liked to tell corny jokes and belched steam out of his "nose" when he laughed.
- ABC TV programme: Australian Story: 30 October 1996: "Mr. Squiggle".
- ABC TV programme: The Collectors: 2010: Episode 21: (Friday 30 July 2010): "Mr. Squiggle".
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- Bradshaw, R.,"Norman Hetherington 1921 – 2010 (Eulogy)", O.P.E.N., No.11, (December 2010), pp.2–4.
- Design and Art Australia Online Biography: Norman Hetherington.
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- Mosman Art Gallery: Tribute to Norman Hetherington, 10 December 2010.
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- O.P.E.N., Theme Issue: Norman Hetherington OAM, O.P.E.N. (Oz Puppetry Email Newsletter), No.11, December 2010.
- Panozzo, S., "Norman Hetherington: The 2009 Stanleys: The Jim Russell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cartooning", Inkspot, No.60, (Summer 2009), pp.26–27.
- Perkins, M., "Mr Squiggle rockets in", 720 ABC Perth, 4 April 2008.
- Quinn, Dhana, "Five things you didn't know about . . . Mr Squiggle", "The Age", (Thursday, 17 May 2001), p.2.
- Samandar, L., Puppetmaster draws final masterpiece, The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, 7 December 2010.
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- Toshack, M., "Pulling the strings in a magic world", The Sydney Morning Herald, (Wednesday, 24 November 1971, p.20.
- Tuohy, Wendy, "Mr. Squiggle: Magic on a String", The Age Green Guide, (Thursday, 24 October 1996), p.10.
- Vasek, L., "End of the line for Mr. Squiggle animator", The Australian, Tuesday, 7 December 2010.