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Mr Squiggle

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Published on Mar 18, 2007

Mr Squiggle, Miss Jane and Blackboard. Mr Squiggle was created by Norman Hetherington. The first show went to air on ABC TV in Australia on the 1st July 1959. The last episode went to air just over 40 years later on the 9th July 1999. Norman Hethering operated and voiced all of the characters and his wife Margaret wrote the scripts. The Hetherington's daughter Rebecca was even a host on the show for a period of time. So the making of Mr Squiggle was very much a family affair.
Mr. Squiggle was helped by a human female 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).
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 used for an easel, whose catchcries were "Oh Hu-rry u-p" and "Hmmph and double hmmph".
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.
Anyone who grew up watching Mr Squiggle was very fortunate indeed. The show had great humour and imagination and allowed kids to be kids - unlike what kids have to watch on TV these days. In fact kids TV in Australia is practically non existent compared to what anyone born before the mid 90's grew up with. Sad really.
Also sad today is the news that Mr Squiggles creator, Norman Hetherington has passed away. He was a television pioneer and a genius. He's now on a rocket ship to the moon. Thank you Norm for the joy you brought to so many. RIP

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