Long before Baby Shark entered the scene, The Wiggles were the world’s hottest band in children’s entertainment. With their catchy songs and an understanding of early childhood education, Anthony Field, Greg Page, Jeff Fatt and Murray Cook were a group of mates who captivated the hearts of kids and parents alike. Now, The Wiggles documentary, Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles, puts their meteoric rise to fame in the spotlight.
Directed by Sally Aitken, Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles puts the peaks and pitfalls of the band’s success under a microscope for the world to see. The Wiggles documentary is a colourful walk down memory lane that recaps the group’s highs and lows over their decades in the spotlight, and is bound to make anyone who grew up with the band feel nostalgic and emotional.
We sat down with Field, Page, Fatt and Cook on the day of the documentary’s release to dive deeper into their resounding impact, favourite moments and the double edged sword of fame.
Will Anthony Field Ever Say Goodbye to The Wiggles?
Of the iconic group’s founding fathers, no one takes the sentiment “Once a Wiggle, always a Wiggle” quite as seriously as Anthony Field. Field has been with the musical group from its inception as The Cockroaches through to its transformation into the global sensation that is The Wiggles. While the other Wiggles have departed the band over the years, Field still proudly dons his blue skivvy with just as much, if not more, energy as he did back in the early ’90s.
In 2021, The Wiggles announced that they were expanding to eight members, all of whom come from culturally diverse backgrounds. Of all his career highs, Anthony Wiggle says that the decision he’s most proud of has been introducing a more diverse cast to the ensemble.
“I think as I get older and near the end of my Wiggly career, I always think that’s the best thing I’ve done in the last 10 years,” Field says. “In saying that… the best thing about them is these guys are incredibly talented, first and foremost. They’re brilliant performers, brilliant people, and they represent our audience.”
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Greg Page interjects.
“Can I just ask, did you just give away a little scoop there?” he asks. “You said, ‘As I get older and near the end of my Wiggly career’.”
“About 20 years,” Field says, declaring: “The Wiggly career ends, when I end!”
The Wiggles laugh, as we breath a sigh of relief.
The Double Edged Sword of The Wiggles’ Fame
In the Wiggles documentary, Field, Page, Fatt and Cook speak candidly about the reality of a life led in the limelight.
At the height of their success, there were moments where the constant work and travel took a toll on their relationships. With so much time spent on the road, it often meant that the Wiggles weren’t around for their own children as much as they would have liked.
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Greg Page admits that although it was tough at the time, and he tries to live without regrets, he does sometimes feel he could have done things differently. At the time, each of them were just trying to do what was best for their family.
OG Red Wiggle Murray Cook agrees.
“I think we probably could have got the work and family balance a bit better, but when it’s happening, [there’s] the success and the adventure of it too,” he says. “It was such an adventure and I was very fortunate that my wife was very supportive and she did a lot of the bringing up the kids when they were younger.”
But he also draws a fair comparison to people in “fairly high-powered” conventional career paths who don’t possess deeper connections with their children. Cook recounts a time he attended a school function for the child of one of his friends.
“I said, ‘Oh, you must know all the teachers,” he recalls. “He said, ‘No, I’ve never met any of them. And I was like, ‘Well, I’ve taken my kids to school’.”
He adds: “Even though we were away from home a lot, when we were home, we really made the most of it.”
On the Heartfelt Connection to The Wiggles Adult Fans
The impact of the original Wiggles lineup can still be felt to this day, and the proof is in the pudding. By “pudding”, we mean their 2022, over 18s tour, which sold out across a number of cities Australia-wide.
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Over the course of the documentary, viewers see snippets of the recent tour — the venues packed out, while a sea of excited, adult patrons sing along to the Wiggles songs that defined their childhoods.
But what makes the Wiggles’ connection to their fans so strong? Is it the nostalgia? Is the need to escape trying times? Or is it just that the music is good and the show is fun?
Field is convinced that it’s because of the “real bangers” that he still loves to play. He might be onto something. The infectious vibe of tunes like “Do the Monkey”, “Rock-a-bye Your Bear”, “Can You Point Your Fingers and do the Twist”, “Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car”, “Fruit Salad”, some of Field’s favourites, is undeniable.
Cook says it’s a combination everything under the sun.
“I think [the audience] like looking back to more innocent times,” he says. “For a lot of younger people and people in their twenties, you’re starting to have responsibilities and the sort of things you didn’t have as a child. And it’s nice to look back [to when] we could just dance to The Wiggles.”
Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles takes us back to simpler times. You can tune into the nostalgic goodness on Prime Video now.
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