Toot toot, chugga chugga, big red car...
The Wiggles are an Australian children's band, founded in 1991 but gained international popularity during the 2000s. Greg Page, Anthony Field and Murray Cook met as early childhood education students at Macquarie University in the 80s, while Field was a member of 80s rock band The Cockroaches alongside Jeff Fatt; the three classmates undertook a university project of their own design intended to create music aimed at children with educational value, and Fatt was brought in as a pianist. A few years and a deal with The ABC
later, and The Wiggles were born.
Over the years they have produced forty-eight albums, several television series and two films, one live action and one animated. The ABC has traditionally broadcast all their shows and been in charge of distributing all their albums and films in Australia. In the United States, the program initially aired on Playhouse Disney
, but was supplanted by the Imagination Movers
. The Wiggles now have an expanded role on PBS Kids Sprout
, with both their show airing and them hosting interstitial segments during programming in the morning called The Wiggly Waffle Show
, as well as a spot on its Saturday morning block on NBC.
It says something about the Wiggles importance within Australia that when the original yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, left the group, it made national headlines for weeks. The majority of Australians will know at least three of their songs and sing them unashamedly, an almost unique thing in the world when it comes to children's music. They'll also give you the trademark Wiggle finger pointing gesture unashamedly.
In December of 2012, three original members — Greg, Murray and Jeff — retired from the group (though they continue to be involved in the franchise's development), and were replaced by three younger band members, one of them female
. A new television series, Ready, Steady, Wiggle!
, is set to premiere in August of 2013.
- Back for the Finale: In January 2012, Greg's return to the group was announced with much fanfare, only for him, Murray, and Jeff to announce their retirement effective at the end of the year. Anthony will remain alongside three entirely new members, but it won't really be the same.
- Big Eater: Anthony.
- Carnivore Confusion: Dorothy's a Dinosaur, obviously a tyrannosaurus rex sort complete with sharp teeth, but it's OK because she eats... roses.
- While not dealing with eating but similar still, Captain Feathersword is a friendly pirate.
- Color-Coded Characters: That's Murray in the red skivvy, Jeff in the purple, and Anthony in blue. Greg wore the yellow skivvy until 2006, when he turned his skivvy over to Sam (and then took it back in 2012, only to give it to someone else at the end of the year).
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: They've done a few covers of songs aimed at older audiences, both written by the band themselves pre-Wiggles and by other artists.
- One that stands out is Monkey Man, originally done by The Maytalls. The original version appears to be about a man telling someone (a girlfriend?) that he's heard rumors of her "hugging up the big monkey man" (implying cheating on the singer) although he can't confirm it. The Wiggles version, featuring Kylie Minogue, is about... an actual Monkey Man.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The group originally had five members (including Philip Wilcher) and wore patterned shirts that bore no resemblance to their trademark coloured skivvies. A couple of years later, Anthony donned a green shirt instead of his now-famous blue skivvy.
- Excited Kids' Show Host: Everyone, of course.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dorothy the Dinosaur, evidently a 'Rosasaurus'.
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: Henry the Octopus, who likes to be under the sea, in an octopus's garden, in the shade.
- Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: Once you hear them sing "Turkey In The Straw", you'll recognize the tune that's always been instrumental in older cartoons such as Looney Tunes.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Greg is sanguine, Murray is choleric, Anthony is melancholic and Jeff is phlegmatic/narcoleptic.
- If we're also counting Sam, he's a cross between sanguine and supine (he seemed a lot more introverted than a usual Hero would be).
- Heavy Sleeper: WAKE UP JEFF/LACHIE!
- I Am the Band: Anthony Field
- Kent Brockman News: Network Wiggles, their third TV series, included a news segment hosted by Greg, along with weather by Captain Feathersword (with his "Weathersword").
- The Kiddie Ride: One carousel, one of the Big Red Car, and one extremely rare Dorothy the Dinosaur swing ride.
- Long Runners: Got their start in 1991, and are still well and truly around.
- Memetic Hand Gesture: You'd be hard-pressed to find an Australian child of the nineties or later who doesn't recognise their signature pointing-wiggling.
- The Movie: A theatrically-released movie, produced in 1997, pretty much cemented them as the world's best-loved children's performers.
- The Pirate Who Doesn't Do Anything: Captain Feathersword.
- Red Shirt: Averted with Greg Page.
- Revolving Door Band: This, especially occuring so soon after this.
- Self-Deprecation: In interviews, Jeff has said that his role as the one who always falls asleep and needs to be woken up derives from his lack of background in early childhood education, and that it's a way to get him involved in the shows without him actually needing to do anything.
- Sesame Street Cred: Many prominent entertainment industry figures have guest starred in specials or on the TV show, including Slim Dusty, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kylie Minogue, John Fogerty, Christine Anu, Steve Irwin, Rolf Harris, Leo Sayer and many more.
- The Smurfette Principle: Dorothy the Dinosaur could have been considered this prior to Emma's arrival. As for Emma's character, the group arguably downplays this trope — while Emma is the only official woman to be a Wiggle, she lacks the overt tokenism often associated with the trope. There have also been other recurring women in the various series, including Kylie Minogue as an honorary "Pink Wiggle", so Emma's arrival only really fits this trope in description.
- Spinoff: The Dorothy the Dinosaur Show and Baby Antonio's Circus. There were also attempts to form foreign-language counterparts overseas (see West Coast Team).
- There's also the Wiggles-produced show The Kingdom of Paramithi, which features many of their dancers and technically counts as a spinoff.
- Stage Magician: Greg's shtick during The Nineties was performing magic tricks, wearing the obligatory magician's hat and cape. However, these magic tricks had an alarming tendency to go wrong, especially whenever Anthony was involved.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: From 2006 to 2012, the original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page, was replaced with his understudy, Sam Moran, due to Page's illness.
- The Voiceless: Wags the Dog.
- West Coast Team: Besides the imitators, there were attempts to form overseas counterparts of the wildly popular group in Latin America and Asia. They didn't work, in part because much of the Wiggles' appeal outside the Anglosphere was as a tool for learning English that the kids actually wanted to watch.