Mister Squiggle

Mister Squiggle

Mr. Squiggle was Australia's longest-running children's series, and the name of the title character from that ABC TV show. Mr. Squiggle (the character) was a marionette string puppet with a pencil for a nose who visited his friends from his home on the moon (93 Crater Crescent), 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 created by Norman Hetherington, and the show first aired on 1 July 1959. Hetherington voiced all the show's puppets, while his wife Margaret wrote the scripts. The last episode went to air just over 40 years later on 9 July 1999.

Mr. Squiggle was helped by a human female assistant in all 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).

The show has been presented 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. Yet the basic premise of the show remained the same: children wrote in with their "squiggles" and Mr. Squiggle would turn them into a recognisable drawing 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.

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.

Other puppet characters that appeared in the show included:

  • Blackboard, the grumpy blackboard that Mr. Squiggle would draw upon, whose catchcry was "Oh Hu-rry u-p, hu-rry u-p"
  • Gus the Snail, who had a TV for a shell and later, a flower pot.
  • Bill the Steam Shovel, who liked to tell corny jokes and belched steam out of his "nose" when he laughed.

Where are they now?

The entire cast of puppets from 'Mister Squiggle and Friends' are privately owned and stored in Sydney, New South Wales. They have previously been on display at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory and Gus was part of the "50 Years of TV" exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in 2007.

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