I would be utterly speechless if you told me you’ve never heard of the greatest band in Australia. This band, many would claim, is like The Beatles but made for toddlers. You may have heard of The Wiggles, Anthony (The Blue Wiggle), Murray (The Red Wiggle), Greg (The Yellow Wiggle), & Jeff (The Purple Wiggle, who consistently falls asleep during performances), but did you know how this band came to be? Where did it all begin, and how did these Aussies become an unstoppable band that continues to impact many worldwide today? This documentary takes a deep dive right from the start.
We learn instantly that the four members of The Wiggles were all attending university and studying in the areas of early childhood. During this time, they would become great friends, and music, as well as a passion for childhood education, sparked great things. Anthony and Jeff were already well known at university thanks to playing in a band called The Cockroaches. However, Anthony was never overly involved in the band and decided to study instead. In 1991, the four made some songs together in a studio and later obtained a record deal that landed on cassette and CD.
As a documentary, Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles looks at many beautiful highlights of the band’s career and the terrific impact the band has had on the lives of many young and old audiences. However, the film also tackles matters which fans may not know about. This includes learning about how the band had to juggle their family life, topics surrounding mental health, rejection, and their involvement during some of the most heartbreaking moments in history, such as 9-11, the Australian Bush Fires, and, most recently, the pandemic.
As a father who often listens to The Wiggles (and thinks Simon the Red Wiggle is the coolest), I was significantly impacted by this feature. Not only did I learn many fun details, such as how the coloured skivvies came to be, but at various times, I couldn’t help but get emotional and connect with the many challenges this band faced, such as Anthony having to get support when it came to his mental health or Emma facing challenges when she was announced as the first female Wiggle. In the end, The Wiggles may have started as a band, but in due time, they became a show with the motivation always to make it about the kids while continuing to create a broad range of music and never giving up no matter the challenges they faced. I enjoyed everything this inspiring feature written and directed by Sally Aitken offered. My only issue was I was left wanting more interviews from some of the other cast, such as Paul Paddick, aka Captain Feathersword. Other cast members are hardly in this feature, and specific topics are skimmed over lightly with an eagerness to move forward. Perhaps this is simply an editing choice, but I would have loved to have seen this documentary able to spend more time on each character as a TV series, allowing for more content.
Overall, as a father and a proud lover of all things relating to The Wiggles, this documentary provided plenty of insights about the popular band. It’s amazing hearing about how this band came to be right from the start, and audiences will take delight in going on a journey leading up to the present day. With interviews and clips showing the incredible highs and the many challenges and heartbreaks the group faced, I found it impossible not to be uplifted and, at times, incredibly touched. Break out the fruit salad and cold spaghetti because this is one of the year’s best documentaries.
Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles (2023) is Available on Prime Video from October 24th.