Although it has been 15 years since Mr Squiggle was on the airways, the imprint this scatter brained puppet made on the lives of millions of Australians over the forty years he was on television has never been matched by any other Australian children’s television show. Not even Play School.
With his pencil nose, his unforgettable grumpy companion Blackboard, the rocket ship he used for regular spacewalks and trips to the moon and his friends Gus the Snail and Bill the Steam Shovel, Mr Squiggle with his quirky personality, relied on the assistance of a female host who helped him with his upside down drawings created from a squiggle using his pencil nose. Although Mr Squiggle’s assistant changed a number of times over the years, Miss Jane is the host I remember the most.
Created by Norman Hetherington, the voice behind Mr Squiggle, Hetherington also operated all of the puppets that featured in the show. His wife Margaret was in charge of writing the scripts. At one point, their daughter Rebecca was Mr Squiggle’s ever faithful assistant.
As a child watching the show, I used to try to guess what Mr Squiggle was drawing upside down with his pencil nose. If I couldn’t figure it out, I remember turning my head around in front of the TV to see if I could work it out before his assistant turned the drawing around. One thing I clearly remember wondering was if Mr Squiggle ever had to sharpen his nose?
The popular phrase coined by Blackboard, “Hurry up” said in a grumpy drone has been mimicked over and over by Australians for years and will probably continue for many years to come. But perhaps not by anyone born after 1999, as this is when Mr Squiggle retired and hung up his unsharpened pencil for good.
What are your memories of Mr Squiggle? Do you remember his friends Gus the Snail and Bill the Steam Shovel? Who were your favourite characters?