October 30, 2006


Wiggling to the top (KRISTIN RUSHOWY, 10/30/06, TORONTO STAR)

Three of the Wiggles — Field, Cook and Page — met at Macquarie University in Sydney, studying early childhood education. They began collaborating on children's songs as part of a music project.

As here, it was unusual for males to be in the child-care field, Field said, adding that before he arrived, in 100 years of the university's history, just two men had graduated in early childhood ed.

"I got there totally by accident. I was an infantry soldier in the army and when I got out, my sister was doing early childhood. It was less curriculum-based, more free-thinking," said Field. "And after being in the army that sounded good.

"When I was growing up, I just never thought I'd be doing that. But becoming a preschool teacher, I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed empowering children and promoting their self-esteem."

Field knew Fatt from their '80s band The Cockroaches and encouraged him to join.

"A lot of what we do comes from a child's perspective," Field said. "It's got a lot to do with what the songs are about and the language we use, and I like to think we know how to write pretty catchy tunes. Right from the start we gave a lot of thought to what was appropriate for children's music."

Along the way, they've had huge hits — "Hot Potato," "We're Dancing with Wags the Dog," "Fruit Salad" — but also a few misses.

"We're still creating new things, new songs," said Field. "Sometimes we hit the mark, sometimes we don't ...

"Over the years, we've tried things with all good intentions. A couple of years ago onstage, it was my brilliant idea to do an interactive part of the show called `Dorothy's question time,'" — Dorothy the Dinosaur, that is — "where we'd ask if anyone in the audience has a question for Dorothy.

"We should have known: children put up a hand and would say `I've got a dog' or `I'm 4.' And I'm wracking my brain about how to handle it. It became a bit of a pattern, no one was asking Dorothy a question.

"Then Murray said `Maybe they don't understand what a question is, let's make it Doro- thy's news time.' We'd ask `Does anyone have news for Dorothy?' and they'd put up their hands and say `I've got a dog.' It worked."

But that's what happens "when you think like an adult," Field said. "Thinking like a kid is the key. You've got to try and think about where they're thinking and where they are in their world; they are different thinkers than adults."

With Theodore Tugboat and Thomas the Tank Engine no longer on regularly, it's easily the best of the kid shows. The four-year old likes Handy Manny though and the other day the wrench asked Manny if he could help remove some ball joints and Manny said: "I don't think you can get your jaws around these big balls." Cute, huh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2006 7:46 AM

Sounds like the show was written by Dr. Tobias Funke.

Posted by: Bryan at October 30, 2006 8:06 AM

You serious? I'm not a fan of kid's stuff hiding innuendo.

Posted by: RC at October 30, 2006 11:24 AM

You have to assume their editors aren't as smart as their writers.

Posted by: oj at October 30, 2006 11:29 AM

Just what the world needs - more edgy/cute children's programming penned by writers too smart for their own good.

Posted by: Bryan at October 30, 2006 12:25 PM
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