News, Culture & Society

How Covid lockdowns inspired Emma Watkins quit The Wiggles

When entertainment industry figures say they’re quitting their job to ‘spend more time at home’, this usually means they’ve been pushed out.

But with Emma Watkins, who announced on Tuesday she was leaving The Wiggles after 11 years, this almost certainly wasn’t the case.

Not only is she the most popular member of the children’s band, but her reason for stepping down will resonate with many people her age.

New start: When entertainment industry figures say they’re quitting their job to ‘spend more time at home’, this usually means they’ve been pushed out. But with Emma Watkins (pictured), who is leaving The Wiggles after 11 years, this almost certainly wasn’t the case

At the age of 32, after doing the same job for more than a decade, the entertainer realised after 18 months of Covid lockdowns she wanted other things from life.

She’s not unlike many of her generation who are handing in their resignations due to a change of perspective triggered by the pandemic. 

Without being on the road for eight months of the year, she suddenly found herself in early 2020 with free time to devote to her academic pursuits.

Watkins has many other passions in life beyond performing in The Wiggles, namely her research and advocacy for Australia’s deaf community.

And after she officially leaves the band next year, she will throw herself into finishing her PhD at Macquarie University.

Generation resignation: Not only is Watkins (second from left) the most popular member of the band, but her reason for stepping down will resonate with many people her age. Pictured with Simon Pryce (left), Lachlan Gillespie (second from right) and Anthony Field (right)

Generation resignation: Not only is Watkins (second from left) the most popular member of the band, but her reason for stepping down will resonate with many people her age. Pictured with Simon Pryce (left), Lachlan Gillespie (second from right) and Anthony Field (right)

She said in a statement: ‘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.

‘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.

Moving on: At the age of 32, after doing the same job for more than a decade, Watkins realised after 18 months of Covid lockdowns she wanted other things from life. She's not unlike many of her generation who are handing in their resignations due to a change of perspective triggered by the pandemic

Moving on: At the age of 32, after doing the same job for more than a decade, Watkins realised after 18 months of Covid lockdowns she wanted other things from life. She’s not unlike many of her generation who are handing in their resignations due to a change of perspective triggered by the pandemic 

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 enthusiastic 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).

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.’

Watkins, from Sydney, announced on Tuesday she was quitting The Wiggles and passing the yellow skivvy to newcomer Tsehay Hawkins in 2022.

The news will come as a devastating blow to millions of children around the world as Watkins – the only woman in the main Wiggles line-up – is considered the group’s most popular member.

She now plans to complete her PhD in filmmaking at Macquarie University.

Studying: She now plans to complete her PhD in filmmaking at Macquarie University. Pictured with Anthony Field on the Today show recently

Studying: She now plans to complete her PhD in filmmaking at Macquarie University. Pictured with Anthony Field on the Today show recently

Watkins was married to fellow band member Lachlan Gillespie, a.k.a. the Purple Wiggle, from 2016 to 2018.

Despite their break-up, the pair remained friends and continued to tour and record with The Wiggles, and even self-isolated together during the coronavirus pandemic.

She is now engaged to Oliver Brian, a musician who works with The Wiggles. 

Exes: Watkins was married to fellow band member Lachlan Gillespie, a.k.a. the Purple Wiggle, from 2016 to 2018. Despite their break-up, the pair remained friends and continued to tour and record with The Wiggles, and even self-isolated together during the coronavirus pandemic

Exes: Watkins was married to fellow band member Lachlan Gillespie, a.k.a. the Purple Wiggle, from 2016 to 2018. Despite their break-up, the pair remained friends and continued to tour and record with The Wiggles, and even self-isolated together during the coronavirus pandemic

New love: She is now engaged to Oliver Brian, a musician who works with The Wiggles

New love: She is now engaged to Oliver Brian, a musician who works with The Wiggles

Watkins is being replaced in 2022 by teenager Tsehay Hawkins, who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its ‘Fruit Salad TV’ YouTube series and has now been promoted to the main line-up.

At 16 years old, she is the band’s youngest-ever member. 

Tsehay (pronounced se-hi, which means ‘the sun’ in Amharic) is an award-winning dancer who represented Australia at the World Latin Dance Championships.

She was born in Ethiopia and adopted by Australian parents Robyn and Reg Hawkins at the age of seven months, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Hawkins said in a statement: ‘I am honoured to be joining The Wiggles at such an exciting time for the group.

Replacement: Watkins is being replaced in 2022 by Tsehay Hawkins (pictured), who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its 'Fruit Salad TV' YouTube series and has now been promoted to the main line-up. At 16 years old, she is the band's youngest-ever member

Replacement: Watkins is being replaced in 2022 by Tsehay Hawkins (pictured), who joined the Wiggles family earlier this year for its ‘Fruit Salad TV’ YouTube series and has now been promoted to the main line-up. At 16 years old, she is the band’s youngest-ever member

Newcomer: Tsehay (pronounced se-hi, which means 'the sun' in Amharic) is an award-winning dancer who represented Australia at the World Latin Dance Championships

Newcomer: Tsehay (pronounced se-hi, which means ‘the sun’ in Amharic) is an award-winning dancer who represented Australia at the World Latin Dance Championships

‘I grew up watching The Wiggles and I’ve already loved working with Anthony, Emma, Simon, Lachy, Evie, Kelly, John and all the Wiggly characters filming their latest TV series Fruit Salad TV.

‘I’m now incredibly excited to be joining them in the yellow skivvy and to have the chance to go out on the road in the new arena tour, I can’t wait to meet all the Wiggly fans.

‘Dancing has always been my passion, and I look forward to being able to share the joy of song and dance with children all over the world.’

The Wiggles have also announced their new Australian tour, which kicks off in Cairns in February and concludes in Adelaide in May. 

Fruit Salad TV Big Show arena tour 

Saturday, February 5: Cairns Convention Centre (10am & 1pm show) QLD

Sunday, February 6: Townsville Entertainment & Convention Centre (10am & 1pm show) QLD

Saturday, February 12: Darwin Entertainment Centre (10am, 1pm & 4pm show) NT

Saturday, February 19: MyState Bank Arena (10am & 1pm show) TAS

Sunday, February 20: Theatre North – Launceston (10am, 1pm & 4pm show) TAS

Saturday, March 12: Rod Laver Arena (10am & 1pm show) VIC

Sunday, March 13: Rod Laver Arena (10am & 1pm show) VIC

Saturday, April 2: Newcastle Entertainment Centre (10am & 1pm show) NSW

Sunday, April 3: Wollongong Entertainment Centre (10am & 1pm show) NSW

Monday, April 4: Canberra Playhouse Theatre (10am,1pm & 4pm show) ACT

Tuesday, April 5: Canberra Playhouse Theatre (10am & 1pm show) ACT

Saturday, April 9: RAC Arena Perth (10am, 1pm show) WA

Sunday, April 10: RAC Arena Perth (10am, 1pm show) WA

Monday, April 11: Kalgoorlie Goldfields Art Centre (10am, 1pm show) WA

Saturday, April 23: Qudos Bank Arena (10am, 1pm & 4pm show) NSW

Saturday, April 30: Brisbane Entertainment Centre (10am & 1pm show) QLD

Saturday, May 7: Adelaide Entertainment Centre (1pm & 4pm show) SA

There will also be an ‘OG Wiggles’ tour for over-18s featuring the original line-up, Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt and Greg Page. 

Fatt said: ‘All of those children who loved The Wiggles in the ’90s are now adults who love the nostalgia and fun from that time in their lives.

‘This night is for the grown-ups and is a chance to bring back some of that genuine, high-spirited liveliness again. We can’t wait to relive those childhood memories and dance the night away to some of the favourite old-school tunes.’ 

Tickets are on sale from October 22. For information, visit www.thewiggles.com.au

The OG Wiggles Over-18 tour dates 

Saturday, February 12: Darwin Entertainment Centre NT

Saturday, February 19: Derwent Entertainment Centre TAS

Saturday, March 12: Rod Laver Arena VIC

Saturday, April 9: RAC Arena Perth WA

Saturday, April 23: Qudos Bank Arena NSW

Saturday, April 30: Brisbane Entertainment Centre QLD

Saturday, May 7: Adelaide Entertainment Centre SA

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk