The Wiggles in Dubai
We catch up with Jeff Fatt, aka Purple Wiggle, and ponder just why our kids (and Robert de Niro) go so nuts for these entertainers
What’s the best thing about being a Wiggle?
Everything! The fact we’re performing in front of children – they really keep us occupied and on the ball – and the fact that we’re involved in music, which we love. The whole process has been a huge adventure – we never really knew where it was going when it started out back in 1991. It doesn’t seem like nearly 20 years ago!
And the worst thing?
Mmmm, I suppose if we sustain an injury on the show, or if we have the flu or a cold, it can be difficult to perform, but then these are not Wiggles-specific and, I have to say, we get a great pick-me-up from the audience.
Er, what injuries?
I’ve fallen off the stage, and I’ve had a bad landing during a tumble. There’ve been a few more croppers in the last few years because the show is more like a circus now. It’s way more physical than when we started.
And you’re not getting any younger…
True, but the show keeps you young. If you stop, that’s when things start seizing up.
Don’t take offence, but don’t you have to be a bit bonkers to be a Wiggle?
Yep. Doing all that crazy stuff in front of kids, you certainly can’t be self-conscious. We love what we do and I imagine a lot of grown-ups see it as silly: ‘I could never do that’ sort of stuff, but that’s the main qualification of being a Wiggle – that we’re mad enough to do stuff parents wouldn’t.
But doesn’t being constantly cheery wear you down?
It’s not difficult to be cheery in front of children, and generally we’re a pretty happy bunch. And it’s certainly not difficult when you have a job you enjoy.
Seriously though, you can tell us: don’t you get irritated by Dorothy’s giggling or Captain Feathersword’s dodgy accent?
We get on really well, honest! We wouldn’t have been going for 20 years if we didn’t.
Twenty years is a long time. Have you been surprised by your success?
We’re always pinching ourselves at what we’ve achieved. We’re known throughout the world and we’re really proud of that. One aspect we really enjoy is meeting and greeting kids with special needs before our shows. To have a positive effect on those kids, and kids who are sick, that’s a huge bonus.
So what’s your secret? Why do kids love you so much?
The music is a major part of it. Three of us were pre-school teachers and having that background in child psychology is a great help. The world revolves around children and we put them first when we’re writing songs, when we’re performing and before we embark on any project. We never speak down to kids, and we include lots of positive messages – healthy eating, sun safety etc. And we’re always giving kids challenges, such as ‘Can you point your finger and do the twist?’ It’s all very engaging for kids of a pre-school age. What may seem mundane and banal to adults is so exciting to children – like a fruit salad, a hot potato or even having a drink of water.
You’ve got some famous fans – even Kylie is an honorary Wiggle!
We’ve done some tracks with John Fogerty, and a couple with Rolf Harris. He’s a big fan. We’ve worked with Leo Sayer who is such a livewire and a big personality. Jerry Seinfeld has seen our show, so has Robert de Niro.
No! De Niro is a Wiggles fan?!
Yes, when his boy was pre-school age, he came to a show in New York and we got to meet him. We love that aspect of it – shaking hands with famous people!
Are you excited about coming to Dubai?
I’ve never been to Dubai before so yes, we’re all very excited. A lot of people tell me it’s going to be very hot, though, and we don’t have a lot of time, but I hope to see that really tall building and the one with the tennis court or heli-pad on top, and I hear you guys have an indoor ski slope! I’d love to have a go on that!
Time Out Dubai,