1 9 5 9 – 1 9 9 9 (Australia)
Pencil-nosed puppet Mr Squiggle has the privilege of being the longest-running character on Australian television.
The creation of artist and puppeteer Norman Hetherington, Mr Squiggle began entertaining young ABC viewers on 1 July 1959, when he was chosen to fill a six-week gap on the fledgeling national television service.
Mr Squiggle – who came down from the moon each episode in Rocket (the name of his rocket!) and returned at the close of each show – was joined during his long television career by several “friends”, including Bill steam shovel, Gus the snail, Doormat and Blackboard.
Hetherington would draw with the eponymous puppet, controlling him from above (hence Squiggle’s “Upside down! Upside down!” catchphrase as the image was flipped and revealed at the end).
Gina Curtis was the first person to keep Squiggle under control, but she left the programme to join the Australian stage production of My Fair Lady and was never heard of again.
Although he developed over the years Mr Squiggle remained a gentle character, a little man who needs help, and terribly polite. He always called his co-presenters and ‘minders’ – Gina Curtis, Pat Lovell (pictured above right) and Jane Fennell (pictured at right) – “miss”.