In a flurry of excitement over the weekend, it was announced The Wiggles family has grown to eight after welcoming four new “gender balanced and diverse” Wiggles to “double the fun”.
Founding member Anthony Field AM, who is an accredited expert in Early Childhood Education, said it was time for the children’s music group to “evolve”, bringing in three women and one man from different cultural backgrounds in a cast that already includes several non-binary characters.
“This is the first step towards shaping The Wiggles for the next 30 years, taking us in a direction that truly represents and serves our community,” Field said on Sunday.
Serving the community is something they do well.
When they were recently called upon to help a young Melbourne woman critically ill after being diagnosed with COVID-19, the Wiggles team leapt into action.
It was a matter of life or death.
Royal Melbourne Hospital intensive care nurse Steven Moylan told the Herald Sun on August 19 an anxious Sarah Kelly, 22, who has Down Syndrome, resisted every time oxygen tubes were put in her nose.
“She didn’t like wearing them. She would take them off and she’d catch you trying to put them on,” Mr Moylan said.
“It was super important that we got her to do it because it could have been the difference between being successful off the ventilator and not.”
They soon learned she loved The Wiggles, and so when she deteriorated and was placed into an induced coma on July 22, hero nurse Mr Moylan had one of those brilliant light-bulb moments.
“My brother also has an intellectual disability and has a big obsession with Spider-Man … Kieran would do whatever Spider-Man would do,” he told the paper.
With no time to lose, Mr Moylan contacted the Wiggles team, and a video was hastily arranged with blue Wiggle Field wearing the oxygen tubes and playing guitar, with “Dr” Red Wiggle Simon Pryce singing along and Dorothy the Dinosaur nailing the trifecta.
It worked. She wore oxygen tubes all day. It saved her life.
Field, 58, the only surviving original member of the beloved children’s group that started in 1991, said Sarah was “scared” but “needed oxygen”.
After bringing her out of a three-week coma, they played the video.
“We thought we could present it to Sarah in a way that we were her friends, and we do it so it is not as scary,” Field told the paper.
“She could relate to it: ‘The Wiggles are putting that on, Dorothy is watching, hey, I’m going to do it too’. We tried to make it so it was fun.”
Sarah left ICU on August 13.
‘Children seeing themselves reflected on screen’
Not only have The Wiggles embraced Sarah and her unfolding emergency, they brought in four new cast members to embrace a new “gender-balanced and diverse” era for the team.
All four will jump in the Big Red Car for a new YouTube series called Fruit Salad TV.
“The Wiggles were created during a time when early childhood educational concepts were the focus,” Field said in a statement.
“As society has evolved, we have embraced the need for diversity and inclusiveness and want children all over the world to see themselves reflected on the screen.
“We are excited for the next chapter in The Wiggles’ history which will start with Fruit Salad TV and continue on with our other content and our live shows.”
Wiggle Town is also getting a welcome boost. Joining Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Henry the
Octopus are three new non-binary characters.
Officer Beaples is a dancing police officer with a big smile and painted-on moustache.
Shirley Shawn the Unicorn “likes to eat apples and drive around Wiggle Town in a mini red car”.
And Bok the hand puppet is “a timid character who displays emotions for children to empathise with”.
“We can’t wait to introduce our amazing new line-up of incredibly talented performers to children in Australia and around the world.”
The new Wiggles
Tsehay Hawkins – she loves to ‘shuffle’
Tsehay, which means ‘the sun’ in Amharic (Ethiopian) was born in Ethiopia and was adopted by an Australian family. She is the current Australian and World Youth ladies Salsa and Urban Latin champion.
Evie Ferris – she’ll wear blue ballet shoes
Evie, 24, is a Taribelang/Djabugay woman who is a highly talented ballet dancer. She is the second First Nations woman to have joined the Australian Ballet.
John Pearce – he’s purple and he’s a personal trainer
John, 30, has an Australian-Filipino background and was in Aussie pop group Justice Crew.
Kelly Hamilton – she’s a yellow skateboarder in Wiggle Town
Kelly, 45, is a children’s entertainment professional. Of Chinese-Australian background, she’s performed on Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants.
Hawkins, Ferris, Hamilton and Pearce join the current Wiggles: Lachlan Gillespie (purple), Simon Pryce, (red), Emma Watkins (yellow) and Field.
Fruit Salad TV will debut on September 4 on YouTube and be available worldwide.