On The Box | Mr Squiggle

Here's Mr Squiggle with lots of fun for everyone

Here's Mr Squiggle to sing a happy tune

You can see we're as happy as can be

Mr Squiggle the man from the moon

A little treat for my fellow Aussies today. Mr Squiggle was an institution for kidlets in Australia. Apparently the show had been around since the '60s, so my way of thinking is that by the time my friends & I were tuning in to the ABC after school in the '80s, Mr Squiggle & all his mates had well and truly found their groove.

It's Norman Hetherington we have to thank for Mr Squiggle. Norman created all of the puppet characters AND voiced & handled them. My mind imploded when I found out it was just one man who provided all those very different voices. The show ran right through to the late '90s, making it one of the longest running kids TV shows in Australia. Norman passed away in 2010, but geez, what a legacy to leave behind - over 4 decades of the most beloved children's entertainment in Australia.

I'm sure the characters of Mr Squiggle must look pretty strange to non-Aussies, but we all watched this iconic half hour show after school & didn't bat an eyelid at the gangly puppet with a pencil for a nose, or any of his equally random friends.

Mr Squiggle would visit Bandywallop daily to draw pictures using squiggles sent in by kids as a starting point. He was a laid back, flighty kind of dude, and had a tendency to wander off on spontaneous 'space walks' unless his lovely assistant grabbed his hand or leg and pulled him back down to solid ground.

While Mr Squiggle was busily creating his works of art, that lovely assistant would try to guess what he was drawing. Some of my favourite moments of watching Mr Squiggle as an adult are his little mutterings as he draws. Sometimes it sounds like Mr Squiggle has been eating some 'special' moon cookies, and that's all I'm saying about that, because precious childhood memories.

But how did Mr Squiggle get to Bandywallop all the way from the moon?!

Mr Squiggle made the trip from the moon to Bandywallop, and back home again, inside a rattly old rocket, conveniently named Rocket.

After Rocket had landed, Mr Squiggle needed help from his lovely assistant to disembark from Rocket, and together they would call for a blackboard to come and help them by holding up the cards of squiggles for Mr Squiggle to draw on.

That blackboard was also conveniently named - Blackboard, and boy was he a grumpy mcgrumpster (and also secretly my favourite character).

Blackboard would go to sleep as soon as the first card had been placed on his ledge, but if he was left waiting too long in between squiggles one sleepy eye would open & he would let out a droning 'hurrr-ryyy uuuup'.

It's hard to describe in words, but it's a catchphrase that has endured in Australian pop culture. Speaking of which, there's one other, even more iconic, catchphrase that came from those Mr Squiggle days...

... Mr Squiggle always had a lovely assistant keeping him company while he squiggled. The most famous of these was Miss Jane. Why? Well it probably has something to do with the way Mr Squiggle would tell his assistants his drawings were upside down all the time. She would be trying to guess what the random mess of squiggles on the card was supposed to be, and just when it couldn't get any more confusing, Mr Squiggle would jump up & down and declare: 'it's upside down Miss xxxx!!

Miss xxxx would then flip that card upside down and we would all go a bit nuts cause we could now see what the drawing was - well, most of the time we could see it... occasionally it was a bit of a stretch.

I guess it was during Miss Jane's reign as lovely assistant that the catchphrase caught on. And let me tell you - you'd be hard-pressed to find an Australian born pre-1990 who doesn't use 'upside down Miss Jane' in their everyday vernacular, when the situation calls for it.

At some point Rocket would get a bit cranky and start whistling for Mr Squiggle to get back on board for the trip back to the moon. Miss Jane, or whichever Miss it was in your era, would help him get back into Rocket, and they would then blast off into the clouds above.

We'd all watch as Rocket powered up through the clouds, moon-bound with Mr Squiggle on board in all its animated glory.

But that was only PART of the show!

There's two more characters that made Mr Squiggle the great show that it was.

The first was Bill The Steam Shovel - a puppet steam shovel who existed on a diet of rocks. Miss Jane (or whoever) would visit Bill for a wee chinwag every now & then, and Bill loved nothing more than to exchange riddles.

They were very much your classic 'Dad-jokes', but Bill would find them so hilarious that steam would pour out of his mouth.

The last character we need to talk about is a character I appreciate infinitely more in adulthood than I did in childhood - Gus The Snail. I seriously just broke out in the biggest smile just typing his name. To think that the same man who voiced Mr Squiggle and Bill ALSO voiced Gus just blows my fragile little mind into tiny little pieces.

Gus was the king of knock knock jokes. He was bold and brash, and self-serving to hilarious fault. The closest I can get to a description of Gus is: a talking snail with all the subtlety of Jim Carrey playing Andy Kaufman playing Tony Clifton in Man On The Moon (1999). <shrugs>

Gus had a couple of interesting substitutes for the shell you would normally see on a regular snail, because he's Gus - enough said. Sometimes you'll see a TV on his back; sometimes you'll see a flower pot on his back. <shrugs again>

Apart from being incredibly random, Gus was also absolutely hilarious. So while Blackboard was Kid-Me's favourite character, Gus The Snail is definitely Adult-Me's favourite.

There's a whole heap of full episodes up on YouTube. I whole-heartedly recommend watching of few of them... just for shi$s & giggles.