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Emma Watkins quits The Wiggles: Inside the band’s complex love lives

Millions of children are waking up to the devastating news that Emma Watkins has quit The Wiggles after 11 years.

And while the 32-year-old will be remembered for being the first female Wiggle, her involvement in behind-the-scenes romances won’t be forgotten either.

In fact, the famous children’s band has a surprising history of off-camera relationships – including two marriages, a divorce and a ‘love square’.

From a ‘love square'[ to an awkward divorce: Inside the complex private lives of The Wiggles – as Emma Watkins (pictured) quits the band after 11 years to ‘spend more time at home’

Emma began mixing business with pleasure shortly after she joined The Wiggles in 2012, falling head over heels for her co-star Lachy Gillespie, a.k.a. the Purple Wiggle.

The couple initially kept their relationship a secret, before announcing it in 2015.  

‘I really fell in love with Lachy in the first moment… but it took him a long time. We haven’t spent a day apart,’ Emma told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2016. 

Keeping it in the band: Emma was once married to Purple Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie (right), whom she met when they became permanent cast members in 2012

Keeping it in the band: Emma was once married to Purple Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie (right), whom she met when they became permanent cast members in 2012 

Whirlwind: The couple got engaged in May 2015, said 'I do' in rural New South Wales in April 2016, and then shocked fans by announcing their split in August 2018

Whirlwind: The couple got engaged in May 2015, said ‘I do’ in rural New South Wales in April 2016, and then shocked fans by announcing their split in August 2018

The couple got engaged in May 2015, said ‘I do’ in rural New South Wales in April 2016, and then shocked fans by announcing their split in August 2018. 

In a joint statement they vowed to remain friends and colleagues, saying: ‘We have embraced this as a very positive change in our relationship.’ 

Lachy met his now-fiancée, ballerina Dana Stephensen, months later when she filmed a cameo for The Wiggles in December 2018.

While she would go on to have a relationship with Lachy, Dana previously said she spent most of her time on set getting to know Emma.

The day he moved on: Lachy met his now-fiancée, ballerina Dana Stephensen, months later when she filmed a cameo for The Wiggles in December 2018

The day he moved on: Lachy met his now-fiancée, ballerina Dana Stephensen, months later when she filmed a cameo for The Wiggles in December 2018

How things started: While she would go on to have a relationship with Lachy, Dana previously said she spent most of her time on set getting to know Emma (all circled)

How things started: While she would go on to have a relationship with Lachy, Dana previously said she spent most of her time on set getting to know Emma (all circled)

In a behind-the-scenes video, Emma said it was a ‘dream come true’ to work with Dana, whose career she had been following closely for some time. 

‘When we found out who the dancers were, we got so excited. For me, they’re dancers that I have been watching for years,’ Emma said.

Shortly after the episode was filmed, it was rumoured Lachy and Dana were dating, but they did not confirm their relationship until October 2019. 

They announced they were engaged in April 2020, 18 months after first meeting.

'I've been watching her for years': In a behind-the-scenes video, Emma said it was a 'dream come true' to work with Dana, whose career she had been following closely for some time

‘I’ve been watching her for years’: In a behind-the-scenes video, Emma said it was a ‘dream come true’ to work with Dana, whose career she had been following closely for some time

‘On Thursday night, Dana asked me to marry her at home under a fairy light sky and a very excited little boy in a beautiful bow tie,’ the Purple Wiggle announced on Instagram at the time.

Emma appeared to give their engagement her approval, commenting with three purple hearts on Lachy’s post.

Lachy and Dana welcomed twin girls Lulu and Lottie in September last year. The dancer also has a son from a previous relationship.

Congrats! They announced they were engaged in April 2020, 18 months after first meeting

Congrats! They announced they were engaged in April 2020, 18 months after first meeting

Surprise! Lachy and Dana welcomed twin girls Lulu and Lottie in September last year. The dancer also has a son from a previous relationship

Surprise! Lachy and Dana welcomed twin girls Lulu and Lottie in September last year. The dancer also has a son from a previous relationship

Meanwhile, Emma revealed in December 2019 she was in a relationship with The Wiggles’ full-time musician Oliver Brian.

She told Stellar: ‘[Oliver] is the very opposite to me. He’s a very calm and thoughtful person and I’ve always been interested in his mind and his take on life, and his morals. He loves talking about the environment and food production. 

‘It’s not very “Wiggly”, but it’s been nice for me to talk about things not just concerning ourselves, but people everywhere around the world.’

Moving on: Emma revealed in December 2019 she was in a relationship with The Wiggles' full-time musician Oliver Brian (left)

Moving on: Emma revealed in December 2019 she was in a relationship with The Wiggles’ full-time musician Oliver Brian (left)

Emma announced her engagement to Oliver in April 2021, 15 months after going public with their romance.

Sharing the happy news on Instagram, the smitten star shared a photo of herself posing alongside Oliver and flashing her new diamond engagement ring. 

‘When life gets more sparkly’, she wrote in the caption.

'When life gets more sparkly': Emma announced her engagement to Oliver in April 2021, 15 months after going public with their romance

‘When life gets more sparkly’: Emma announced her engagement to Oliver in April 2021, 15 months after going public with their romance

Oliver plays various instruments for The Wiggles, including the guitar and banjo, and has previously joined the band on several of their world tours.

Away from the TV show, Oliver performs in a folk-rock band with Emma’s ex Lachy.

The pair are members of band The Unusual Commoners alongside Blue Wiggle Anthony Field and musician David O’Reilly, and regularly hit the road together. 

Talented: Oliver plays various instruments for The Wiggles, and has previously joined the band on several of their world tours. Pictured: Blue Wiggle Anthony Field with Oliver on the show

Talented: Oliver plays various instruments for The Wiggles, and has previously joined the band on several of their world tours. Pictured: Blue Wiggle Anthony Field with Oliver on the show

Stars: Away from the TV show, Oliver (second from right) and Emma's ex Lachy (left) are in the band The Unusual Commoners, with Anthony Field (second from left) and David O'Reilly (right)

Stars: Away from the TV show, Oliver (second from right) and Emma’s ex Lachy (left) are in the band The Unusual Commoners, with Anthony Field (second from left) and David O’Reilly (right)

Meanwhile, Red Wiggle Simon Pryce is also married to a fellow band member, actress and model Lauren Hannaford.

The couple met in 2011, when Lauren was performing as Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus. 

The pair tied the knot in 2017 and share a 10-month-old son named Asher.   

Another Wiggles romance! Red Wiggle Simon Pryce (left) is also married to a fellow band member, actress and model Lauren Hannaford (right)

Another Wiggles romance! Red Wiggle Simon Pryce (left) is also married to a fellow band member, actress and model Lauren Hannaford (right) 

Hot little potato! The pair tied the knot in 2017 and share a three-month-old son named Asher

Hot little potato! The pair tied the knot in 2017 and share a three-month-old son named Asher 

Emma is quitting The Wiggles next year and will pass her yellow skivvy to 16-year-old newcomer Tsehay Hawkins, the band announced on Tuesday.

She is leaving the group so she can devote more time to her other passions, including completing her PhD at Macquarie University.

She said in a statement that the Covid-19 lockdown made her reassess her priorities, and she realised how much she missed being at home.

End of an era: Emma (second from left) announced on Monday that she has quit The Wiggles and will pass the yellow skivvy to newcomer Tsehay Hawkins in 2022, the band announced on Tuesday. Pictured with Simon Pryce (left), Lachlan Gillespie (second from right) and Anthony Field (right)

End of an era: Emma (second from left) announced on Monday that she has quit The Wiggles and will pass the yellow skivvy to newcomer Tsehay Hawkins in 2022, the band announced on Tuesday. Pictured with Simon Pryce (left), Lachlan Gillespie (second from right) and Anthony Field (right) 

‘After 11 years of performing with The Wiggles, and nine of those as the Yellow Wiggle, the time has come for me to pass the yellow skivvy on,’ Watkins said.

‘Like many people around the world, the pandemic has given me time to reflect on what is important in life.

‘For me, that means spending more time at home, something that I didn’t realise I was missing out on being away eight months of the year on tour, but something that I have really cherished over the last 18 months.’ 

Academia: Emma is leaving the band to devote more time to her other passions, including completing her PhD at Macquarie University

Academia: Emma is leaving the band to devote more time to her other passions, including completing her PhD at Macquarie University

Replacement: Sixteen-year-old Tsehay Hawkins (pictured), who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its 'Fruit Salad TV' YouTube series, has been promoted to the main line-up

Replacement: Sixteen-year-old Tsehay Hawkins (pictured), who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its ‘Fruit Salad TV’ YouTube series, has been promoted to the main line-up

She continued: ‘I am also really looking forward to devoting more time and energy on completing my PhD that incorporates my ongoing passion for sign language, dance and film editing, and to having more time to work with the Deaf community.’

Emma is passionate about sign language and raising awareness of Australia’s deaf community after growing up with her best friend having two deaf brothers.

Her PhD, which she has been researching for several years, focuses on the affective, artistic integrations of sign language, dance and film editing.

She has also completed a Diploma of Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

Changing priorities: Watkins said in a statement that the Covid-19 lockdown made her reassess her priorities, and she realised how much she missed being at home

Changing priorities: Watkins said in a statement that the Covid-19 lockdown made her reassess her priorities, and she realised how much she missed being at home

Watkins added: ‘I am eternally grateful to The Wiggles for giving me the amazing opportunity to be the first female Wiggle, a role that I have loved and one that has brought me so much joy and an abundance of bowtiful memories that I will treasure forever.

‘As The Wiggles continue to evolve and someone new now steps into the yellow skivvy, I look forward to seeing children and families embrace them, just as I was when I began. I wish The Wiggles much continued success as they continue to delight children all over the world.’

Founding member Anthony Field, a.k.a. the Blue Wiggle, said on behalf of the group: ‘Emma first began performing with The Wiggles 11 years ago, when she was cast as Fairy Larissa in our Dorothy the Dinosaur concerts and videos.

‘She went on to play other roles including Wags the Dog, Dorothy the Dinosaur, and as a Wiggly dancer. Then in 2013, Greg [Page] famously handed over the yellow skivvy to Emma, making her the first female Wiggle.

‘We’ve had an amazing time with Emma over this period and while we’re sad to see her go, we know she has many other passions she’d like to pursue, including her PhD and work with the Deaf community.

‘We thank Emma for her wonderful contribution to The Wiggles and wish her all the very best as we look forward to seeing her continued success with her other interests.’ 

Time to say goodbye: 'After 11 years of performing with The Wiggles, and nine of those as the Yellow Wiggle, the time has come for me to pass the yellow skivvy on,' Watkins said

Time to say goodbye: ‘After 11 years of performing with The Wiggles, and nine of those as the Yellow Wiggle, the time has come for me to pass the yellow skivvy on,’ Watkins said

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