Emma Watkins quits the Wiggles in ‘end of an era’ for children’s group

The first female Wiggle, who had an outsize influence on the group, says she is leaving to focus on her family and PhD

The Great Resignation has claimed another.

Emma Watkins has confirmed she will be leaving the Wiggles at the end of the year, spurred by a lockdown epiphany.

“Like many people around the world, the pandemic has given me time to reflect on what is important in life,” the Yellow Wiggle said in a statement. “For me, that means spending more time at home.

“I am also really looking forward to devoting more time and energy to completing my PhD that incorporates my ongoing passion for sign language, dance and film editing.”

Watkins’ announcement comes after 11 years spent in the skivvied supergroup. First appearing as a character called Fairy Larissa, she took on a number of roles, including Wags the Dog and Dorothy the Dinosaur, before being made the first female Wiggle in 2013.

She was also married to Purple Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie for two of those years. The couple announced their separation in 2018.

Replacing Watkins in the role will be 15-year-old Tsehay Hawkins, who joined the Wiggles earlier this year as one of four new members aimed at increasing diversity within their ranks.

Current and former Wiggles congratulated Watkins on her decade-long run with the band. “Enjoy the break (probably some therapy),” wrote fellow Yellow Wiggle Sam Moran.

Congrats @Emma_Wiggle on a very successful Yellow era - Enjoy the break, (probably some therapy) and no doubt some exciting times ahead. Maybe even some different colours! 👏🏻

— Sam Moran (@SamMoran) October 18, 2021

Thank you @Emma_Wiggle you will be missed! pic.twitter.com/gWvajL6hTu

— Anthony Field (@Anthony_Wiggle) October 18, 2021

Parents took to social media to lament Watkins’ departure. “I watched my daughter’s face light up when she saw you in the group,” wrote one user.

It’s “the end of an era”, said another.

So, I finally learn all the words and moves to “Emma’s Bow” and Emma Wiggle announces she’s leaving @TheWiggles.

Seriously, 2021 can get in the 🗑. pic.twitter.com/cie0VEQtJT

— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) October 18, 2021

The end of an era! @Emma_Wiggle has been part of our family soundtrack for nearly 5 years! https://t.co/SG9Fjwww7D

— Stephanie Smail (@sjsmail) October 18, 2021

I’ve been dining on out this moment with my kids for the last 6 years.

Thank you @Emma_Wiggle for all the bowtiful memories I have with my kids at all hours of the morning watching you and the @TheWiggles. pic.twitter.com/yvEni3Jq98

— Matt Baseley (@MattBaseley) October 18, 2021

Farewell, @Emma_Wiggle
You were a joyful Yellow Wiggle and broke new ground as the first woman to pull on a skivvy. I remember people saying it wouldn’t work with a changed line up. I knew it would when I watched my daughters face light up when she saw you in the group 💛 💛

— Jessica Munday (@MundayJessica) October 18, 2021

Other parents treated it as an exercise in grief management – dreading the moment they’d have to break the news to their children.

Trying to plot the opportune moment to inform my 3yo redhead who wears an Emma Wiggle ballet outfit most days that Emma is leaving. This is a parenting boss fight.

— Matt Bevan (@MatthewBevan) October 18, 2021

Parents: If you don’t have a grief management plan in place yet, maybe delay telling your child about Emma Wiggle’s retirement.

— KDP (@kerrydupont) October 18, 2021

My 9 month old granddaughter will be devastated to learn that Emma has left The Wiggles. 😢😢
We won’t tell her till after breakfast.

— valentinaem (@jean15849180) October 18, 2021

Despite having a shorter run in the group – at least compared with some of the founding members – Watkins had an outsize influence on the Wiggles and a profound impact on fans.

After an endometriosis diagnosis left her briefly unable to perform in 2018, she used her platform to raise awareness of the condition. “I urge anyone suffering with the symptoms of endometriosis to put your health first and get a diagnosis,” she wrote in a Facebook post at the time.

Half of all Wiggles merchandise is also “Emma specific”, said the band’s head of licensing and merchandise in a T Magazine Australia cover story about Watkins earlier this year.

There are going to be some difficult conversations in our household soon.

Thank you @Emma_Wiggle for lighting Bronte’s imagination. pic.twitter.com/JkldRkDjAN

— Travis Fitzgibbon (@travfitz) October 18, 2021

Not gonna lie, I’m low key devastated @Emma_Wiggle is leaving.

My daughter is nearly two, adores the Wiggles (anything yellow to her is just ‘Emma’) and between COVID and moving states we’ve had to miss three different shows.

And now she won’t get to see her in person 😔

— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) October 18, 2021

In the same article, frontman and current Blue Wiggle, Anthony Field, described her as “the Elvis of the Wiggles”.

“Emma is number one,” he said. “You look into the audience, 60, 80% of the children are dressed like Emma.”


Michael Sun

The GuardianTramp

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