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

The Wiggles
The Wiggles
The Wiggles
The Wiggles
The Wiggles
The Wiggles
Wiggles’ crunchy munchy honey cakes
Wiggles’ crunchy munchy honey cakes
Rose, aged three
‘I love Dorothy and her dancing fairies! They go twirly twirly and hee, hee, hee, hee! I’m going to wear my ballerina dress!’
Rose, aged three
‘I love Dorothy and her dancing fairies! They go twirly twirly and hee, hee, hee, hee! I’m going to wear my ballerina dress!’
Dominic, aged five
‘I like to copy their dances. They are really cool! My whole family is going to see them, which will be so much fun!’
Dominic, aged five
‘I like to copy their dances. They are really cool! My whole family is going to see them, which will be so much fun!’
Anton, aged three
‘I’m always waking up Jeff when he goes to sleep. Can I have a ride in the Big Red Car please?’
Anton, aged three
‘I’m always waking up Jeff when he goes to sleep. Can I have a ride in the Big Red Car please?’
Lucas, aged three
[Mum, Marta, made the Wiggles cakes] ‘It was fun mixing the ingredients! They’re yummy because I love honey. Can I have them at snack time?’
Lucas, aged three
[Mum, Marta, made the Wiggles cakes] ‘It was fun mixing the ingredients! They’re yummy because I love honey. Can I have them at snack time?’
Lara, aged four
‘Their dances and their costumes are brilliant! Captain Feathersword is my favourite! Why do you ask? Am I still allowed to go?!’
Lara, aged four
‘Their dances and their costumes are brilliant! Captain Feathersword is my favourite! Why do you ask? Am I still allowed to go?!’
Simeon, aged six
‘I want to see Sam wiggle. He might be able to speak Spanish. I wonder if he knows the song ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’?’
Simeon, aged six
‘I want to see Sam wiggle. He might be able to speak Spanish. I wonder if he knows the song ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’?’
The Wiggles
The Wiggles
1/11

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!


Get cooking with the Wiggles’ crunchy munchy honey cakes

They’re even invading out kitchens! Try out this Wiggles recipe.

Ingredients
80g muesli flakes
100g sugar
128g self-raising flour
70g coconut
125g butter
2 tsp honey
3 tbs milk

Instructions
1 Combine muesli flakes, sugar, coconut and sifted flour in a bowl and mix well
2 Heat the butter, honey and milk. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well
3 Roll into balls the size of walnuts and place on a greased baking tray
4 Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160-180C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
5 Cool on trays and enjoy!


Fan zone

Rose, aged three
‘I love Dorothy and her dancing fairies! They go twirly twirly and hee, hee, hee, hee! I’m going to wear my ballerina dress!’

Dominic, aged five
‘I like to copy their dances. They are really cool! My whole family is going to see them, which will be so much fun!’

Anton, aged three
‘I’m always waking up Jeff when he goes to sleep. Can I have a ride in the Big Red Car please?’

Lucas, aged three
[Mum, Marta, made the Wiggles cakes] ‘It was fun mixing the ingredients! They’re yummy because I love honey. Can I have them at snack time?’

Lara, aged four
‘Their dances and their costumes are brilliant! Captain Feathersword is my favourite! Why do you ask? Am I still allowed to go?!’

Simeon, aged six
‘I want to see Sam wiggle. He might be able to speak Spanish. I wonder if he knows the song ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’?’


Why The Wiggles?

‘I love the Wiggles!’ squeals parent educator, Therese Sequeira, almost exploding when we mention the ‘W’-word. The mum of three is evidently a huge fan and even admits to having Wiggles videos (DVDs weren’t invented then) before her kids were born, although she assures us they were to entertain visiting nippers and not for her personal pleasure. She’s not alone – although there is a substantial parental contingent that would cheerfully strangle the fab four and friends (especially in that important meeting when you can’t get ‘toot toot, chugga chugga, big red car’ out of your head). But, says Therese (once she’s caught her breath), all that wiggling and warbling is, if you can stand it, good for your kids.

‘You can tell they know what they’re doing,’ says the woman behind Triple P parenting workshops and seminars. Like other kids’ shows we could name, the Wiggles aim to be fun and educational. ‘But the Wiggles aren’t babyish, they’re not cheesy and they’re not corny,’ says Therese, ‘and the kids who feature on their show are not super-pretty and perfect – they’re just regular kids.’

Three of the four Wiggles met at Macquarie University in Sydney where they studied to be childhood educators. It’s an experience they’ve put to good effect in their shows and songs, seeing everything from the child’s perspective and making the simplest things exciting, entertaining and educational. ‘I love the little things – the good values and healthy habits they impart like drinking water, eating fruit and keeping busy,’ says Therese. ‘My boys love their songs – they’ve got groovier over the years and the Pink Wiggle (Kylie Minogue) is a hot favourite. The actions are fantastic: repetitive and simple enough for everyone to join in, and they really get the kids jumping up and down and learning.’ Therese also praises their multi-culturalism: the Wiggles dress up in traditional costumes and sing songs from a variety of countries, cultures and religions.

Helping others and being kind feature prominently, as do friendship, health and safety. They’re always polite, and there’s no teasing. ‘Sure, Jeff nods off, but he’s not criticised for being sleepy,’ says Therese. ‘Best of all, they encourage children to be children – to dress up, dance, laugh, experiment with instruments, sing, explore and be creative. They’re just so much fun!’

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