I was sad to hear a couple of days ago that Norman Hetherington, the creator and puppeteer of Mr. Squiggle had died. The ABC has made their Australian Story program on him available on iView as a tribute. I was delighted that it includes some behind the scenes footage that shows how Mr Squiggle is operated! Be quick though, it’s is only available to view for 6 days!
I get a lot of interest in my photos of Mr. Squiggle and friends, so I thought people might like to see the squiggle that Mr. Squiggle (aka Norman Hetherington) drew for me personally at the Puppet Summit in Melbourne in 2002. I guess over the years he has drawn them for many people!
Mr. Squiggle, a dearly loved kids TV puppet show in Australia for many years, has an exhibition as part of the Unima 2008 puppetry festival in Perth. Although its regarded as iconic, I have to admit running against the flow; I never really loved it either as a kid or an adult. I do like the puppets and their characters, though, and it was interesting to see how simply made they were made. Blackboard for instance is a piece of cardboard, with little (sand?)bags for feet, and the reason one of his eyes isn’t animated is that it was made so quickly they didn’t get that far. Of course, it gave him more character! Blackboard and Gus the cantankerous snail were always my favourites.
Mr.Squiggle’s creator, Norman Hetherington, and his wife Margaret, who scripted the shows, are both here at the festival.
The photos below are licensed under a Creative Commons license. Please use them within the terms of the license or make special arrangements to use them, and list the photo credit as “Hilary Talbot” and link the credit to Spiritsdancing.com.
Bill Steamshovel. His neck and catapillar tracks are plain foam.
‘This exhibition explores the career of Norman Hetherington, the originator, creator and puppeteer of the popular children’s ABC program, ‘Mr Squiggle’. Norman Hetherington has lived in Mosman for over 40 years and made a significant contribution to Australian television history and culture. The exhibition presents a variety of original puppets, drawings, cartoons,
promotional material and memorabilia, and ABC television program segments.’
Associated with the exhibition there will also be performances at the gallery on Sunday 25 September, 11am & 2pm. These will be a short and rare performance by Norman with Mr Squiggle followed by A Package for Granny by Sydney Puppet Theatre and Puppetease by Ross Browning. Bookings: 02 9978 4178
Norman was recently interviewed on ABC Radio National’s The World Today. You can read the interview here, or listen to it by following whichever format you prefer linked at the top of that page. It’s refreshing to hear someone recommending fun so much! At the Puppetry Summit a few years ago Norman was kind enough to do an upside down squiggle (Mr Squiggle’s particular thing) for me and others. I come across it in my notebook every now and then and it makes me smile.