HOT POTATO: THE STORY OF THE WIGGLES

★★★★

JUMP INTO THE BIG RED CAR FOR A TRIP INTO AUSSIE HISTORY

SXSW SYDNEY REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
23rd October 2023

Children's entertainment is often a thankless job and when it comes to TV shows produced in the 1990s and early 2000s, they were more often than not produced created to fill a quota. While things like 'Hi-5', 'Lazytown' and even 'Play School' aim to teach preschoolers basic early education and lessons all star performers who audition for a role, which is why 'The Wiggles' has always stood out.

Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt and Greg Page, better known as 'The Wiggles', originally formed in the 1980s. Field, Cook and Page where studying early childhood education and took their knowledge and applied it to music. Field and Fatt were a part of the Sydney band The Cockroaches, which became the jumping-off point for the children's entertainers. As the group's success began to increase, more and more characters like Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword. The group would produce music and video content on their own which then aired nationally on networks like the ABC and Channel 7. While success in Australia was constant, it wasn't until the early 2000s when they began touring the United States and formed a partnership with the Disney Channel that they exploded onto the international market. 'Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles' takes us from those early days to members leaving and the current re-brand; we see all the highs and lows of Australia's favourite group.

'HOT POTATO: THE STORY OF THE WIGGLES' TRAILER

It's hard not to get emotional when talking about 'The Wiggles', both because they were a formative part of my childhood (as I'm sure they were for many people reading this) but also because of their success. These were four guys from Sydney who had a passion and talent to teach kids - and not only did they achieve that, but have continued to change and push the boundaries of early childhood development for over 30 years. Just looking at the last four years of their career with the 18+ shows, Triple J and of course the group's now 8 members, 'The Wiggles' more than deserve their flowers, and it's so joyful to see that come at them tenfold.

Now of course if you don't have any kind of attachment to 'The Wiggles' this documentary might not be for you. It does give good a snapshot of the group's history, but there are a few moments that the audience needs to fill in. The biggest being Sam Moran - while surprising to see him and welcome to hear a bit of his insight into his history with The Wiggles, it feels incomplete. The last time we see him in the documentary is him appearing teary-eyed after footage of Anthony on The Today Show stating his contract had ended and that's why he will no longer be a part of the group. Sam's history with The Wiggles has always been sort of the darkest "drama" the group has had, and it would have been full circle to hear more of his side of events since they brought him back. Outside of that, Jeff gets the least amount of screen time but he does provide some of the most insight into the band as he has been taking once-a-day pictures since 1990.

These were four guys from Sydney who had a passion and talent to teach kids - and not only did they achieve that, but have continued to change and push the boundaries of early childhood development for over 30 years.

If it wasn't already apparent, The Wiggles are truly Australian royalty, and seeing their restored success in the last three years alone has only cemented their status. As always, no one documentary is going capture their story, but the fact they can even have one 30 years later and it be a major film only shows their importance. I left the film smiling and in tears. 'The Wiggles' are Australia's greatest performers and, at the end of the day, that is what the documentary captures: a beautiful snapshot of four guys in coloured skivvies.

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