Norman Hetherington, the man who created iconic children’s TV character Mr Squiggle more than 50 years ago, has died in Sydney at the age of 89 after a long illness.
After serving in World War II, Hetherington worked as a cartoonist for The Bulletin magazine in the 1940s and 1950s. He also had an interest in puppetry, presenting a puppet show on the opening night broadcast from ABN2, Sydney, in 1956, and created early children’s television productions in the late 1950s. Then in 1959 he created the character of Mr Squiggle, a pencil-nosed puppet who created drawings based on scribble patterns (or “squiggles”) sent in by children.
Mr Squiggle, who also had friends including Bill Steamshovel, Gus the Snail and Blackboard, started as a six-week guest spot on ABC’s Children’s TV Club but soon was given his own show which ended up running for 40 years.
The program, which entertained generations of children, went through various formats and titles but ended up as Mr Squiggle And Friends, making its last appeared on ABC in 1999.
Some of Mr Squiggle’s on-screen assistants have included Miss Gina (Gina Curtis), Miss Pat (Pat Lovell), Miss Jane (Jane Fennell), Miss Roxane (Roxane Kimmorley) and Hetherington’s daughter, Rebecca (pictured, with Mr Squiggle), who appeared alongside Mr Squiggle in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In the 1980s, Hetherington and wife Margaret, who wrote all of Mr Squiggles scripts, won two Penguin awards for the program. In 1990, Hetherington was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his contribution to children’s television.
In July this year, he appeared in a segment on the ABC program Collectors, paying tribute to the long-running Mr Squiggle.
Norman Hetherington is survived by wife Margaret and children Rebecca and Stephen. His funeral is expected to be held next Monday.