If you were a child that grew up in Australia during the second half of the 20th century, chances are you would have at least heard of one Mr Squiggle. Originally referred to by his full name of "Mr. Jolly Squiggle", he first appeared on the ABC's Children's TV Club before getting his own (evidently more popular) spinoff which started airing in July 1959. Initially the spinoff was intended as a six-week fill-in for another children's show, but the show proved to be so popular (at one point the ABC was getting box-fuls of squiggles from children) that it was back on air that November.
The character of Mr Squiggle was a man from the moon who would come down in a rocket at the beginning of each episode. After greeting his (always female) offsider, he would examine pictures made of random squiggles sent in by young children. After doing so, he would make a picture out of those squiggles using his pencil nose. Upon finishing, the picture would be turned the other side up — et voilà — a picture that actually made some sort of sense!
Apart from his Lovely Assistant, Mr Squiggle also had acquaintances in Blackboard (whom he always used as an easel, often prompting a disgruntled "HURRY UP!"), Gus the Snail (who initially had a TV for a shell, but later had a flower pot), Bill the Steam Shovel (who often told bad jokes and blew steam out of his nose whenever he laughed) and Doormat (who was, erm... a doormat).
The show aired its final episode on July 8, 1999 — just a week after its 40th birthday. Though Mr Squiggle made the odd cameo on television during the Turn of the Millennium, any hope of there being a revival was dashed when Mr Squiggle's creator and performer, Norman Hetherington, died in December 2010 at the age of 89.
The entire cast of puppets from the show are now on display at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.
- Catchphrase: After Squiggle had finished his drawing and wanted his assistant to turn it 'right side up':"Upside down! Upside down!"
- Whenever Blackboard was impatient (which was all the time):
- Mr Squiggle also frequently changed his mind about the drawings.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bill Steamshovel disappeared without any explanation when the show returned to it's original 5 minute format in the early 1990's.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Even when he had a duty to make pictures out of children's squiggles, Mr Squiggle often experienced a desire to go on "space walks", leaving his assistant to attempt to calm him down and make him focus on the task at hand.
- Mr Squiggle also had an unnaturally-keen desire to have his lovely lady assistants to hold his hand.
- Fourth-Wall Mail Slot / Official Fan-Submitted Content: Pretty much inherent within the show's concept.
- Grumpy Bear / Sour Supporter: The ever-grumpy Blackboard and Gus.
- Long Runner: It ran for forty whole years before ending in 1999.
- Lovely Assistant: Mr Squiggle had many over its long tenure. Miss Gina was the original presenter in 1959, before she was replaced by Miss Pat (1960-1975), then Miss Sue (1975), Miss Jane (1975-1986), Roxanne (1986-1989) and finally Rebecca (Norman and Margaret Hetherington's real-life daughter) (1989-1999).
- Nice Hat: Squiggle's tall hat, which concealed the string used to hold him upright. Also, the tip of the hat - which was never seen onscreen - was used as the handle for his human operator to move the head in order to for Mr Squiggle to draw with his nose.
- Nice Shoes: Squiggle's cute little elfin shoes.
- Retool: Not too dramatically, but the show's format often changed throughout its lifetime. It was initially a five-minute format when it first aired, then it grew to an hour and a half (with cartoons, songs and the like included). In 1966 it was pared back to 15 minutes and became Squiggle, Pat and Bill. A few years after that it expanded to 30 minutes and was retitled Mr Squiggle and Friends. In 1986 a Story Arc was added, the idea being Mr Squiggle joining Roxanne in an old caravan in Bandywallop where she was waiting for Mr Wallop to fix her car. This arc was dropped 3 years later after Rebecca became the sixth and final presenter, and in 1993 the show reverted to its original 5-minute format. Another Story Arc was added in 1995, where Rebecca became shipwrecked on a desert island with Mr Squiggle and Blackboard coming by for the occasional squiggle.
- Sentient Vehicle: Bill the Steam Shovel.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Squiggle.