Mr Squiggle, the man from the Moon

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Iconic TV puppet Mr Squiggle is at the National Archives for the Out of this World exhibition. We take a look at how the 'man from the Moon' delighted generations of Australian children.

Mr Squiggle was a popular children's television show aired by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) from 1959 to 1999.

Mr Squiggle, a puppet with a pencil for a nose, lived at 93 Crater Crescent, on the Moon. Each episode began with him coming down to Earth in his rocket.

He had a gentle personality, a sense of wonder and an endless imagination. Generations of Australian children sent in their simple 'squiggles' on paper, then watched in delight as 'the man from the Moon' transformed them into surprising pictures.

The drawings often appeared upside down, and when Mr Squiggle was finished, he would exclaim 'everything's upside down these days!' and ask the presenter to turn them around to reveal the completed picture.

Video

Mr Squiggle: Delighting children for over 40 years

The show appeared in various formats and had several different names over the years. The talented puppet completed over 10,000 drawings during his 40-year run.

And then there was that famous theme song:

Here's Mr Squiggle

With lots of fun for everyone

Here's Mr Squiggle, sing a happy tune

You can see we're as happy as can be

Mr Squiggle, the man from the Moon.

A family affair

Cartoonist and puppeteer Norman Hetherington created Mr Squiggle in the late 1950s. Hetherington saw his puppets as 'three-dimensional cartoons which could be animated and brought to life for a show'. He combined his two loves by creating a puppet that could draw.  

Norman's wife, Margaret, wrote the scripts for every episode. His daughter, Rebecca, presented the show in the 1990s.

Mr Squiggle’s friends

Hetherington created, performed and voiced all the characters that appeared on the show, including Blackboard, Rocket, Bill Steamshovel and Gus the Snail.

Blackboard was known for his grumpy personality, but is remembered fondly for his signature phrase, 'Hurry up, hurry up'. Bill Steamshovel joined the show in 1962 and Gus the Snail in 1977, both characters entertaining children with their mischief and jokes.

Mr Squiggle was accompanied by various presenters over the decades. Miss Gina (Gina Curtis) was the first, from 1959 to 1960. Miss Pat (Patricia Lovell) was the longest running presenter, hosting the show from 1960 to 1975. Miss Jane (Jane Fennell), Sue Lloyd, Roxanne Kimmorley and Rebecca Hetherington also presented the show.

Mr Squiggle in the National Archives

The National Archives’ collection has many records relating to Mr Squiggle.

Most of them are audio-visual material, including an early Mr Squiggle segment that screened as part of the ABC's Children’s TV Club in 1960.

The collection includes Norman Hetherington's 1962 application for copyright protection, which contains three photographs of Mr Squiggle. There are also some black and white images of Mr Squiggle with Miss Pat and Miss Jane and Sue Lloyd.

Mr Squiggle is on show as part of Out of This World: Australia in the space age at the National Archives of Australia until 14 March 2021.