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Jamie Redfern - on the changing times - from Young Talent To Toorak !

Anthony Field Still Wigglin'!

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Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Redfern View Post
The Wiggles are one of Australia’s greatest entertainment success stories and tourism assets, and have been so for as long as most of us can remember. As a nation we are immensely proud of them, and many will be eternally grateful for the way they continue to shape the way our children learn, grow and adapt to an ever changing world. In this, my very first assignment for the Toorak Times, I talk to my mate and blue Wiggle Anthony Field – who is determined to keep the iconic quartet on the road to success for another fun filled 21 years. And judging the reaction of the audiences, the media, and almost everybody else to the latest Wiggles line up, that won’t be a problem.

Jamie: What makes you happy these days?

Anthony: Well, my children Antonio, Lucia and Maria, are a constant source of happiness, laughter, worry and wonder - so I guess when I contribute with my wife Mikki to their well being, it makes me feel better about myself.

Jamie: Family obviously means a lot to you?

Anthony: Jim, the older I get, the more I realise how great a job my parents did to raise 7 children, and what a sacrifice they made to their own lives to help us on our way. My own family mean the world to me, I couldn't love them more.

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Jamie: You said your family make you “feel better about yourself” - can you explain what you meant that?

Anthony: Yeah Jim - sometimes, when on the road, the world gets very small; a hotel room, the inside of a venue, a truck stop. I start feeling pretty alone, and my wife Miki is brilliant at communicating from a long distance that all is ok in the world!

Jamie: Who are your heroes?

Anthony: Well, I guess in Australia it’s the medicos in the children’s hospitals, along with the volunteer workers and the nursing staff. I’m in awe of the way they handle the most tragic cases of children's illnesses, and the way they advise the families who are suffering with the children.

Jamie: It’s been well documented that The Wiggles regularly take time out of their busy schedule to visit children’s hospitals, but how important are these visits to you personally?

Anthony: Jim, visiting the hospitals and meeting very sick children is an honour for us. There is nothing worse in the world than seeing children suffering. The little bit of diversion from their pain we may create is better than any award we have received. We have met many children over the last 23 years in hospitals - some have passed away, and others have recovered. I always think of their bravery, and the work the hospital staff do to help them and their families through the sick times.

Jamie: Is there a story involving a sick child that touched your heart a little more than most?

Anthony: We recently attended a funeral for a little girl named Chloe Muddle, who died from kidney cancer. Chloe was three years old and loved Dorothy the Dinosaur so much. The new Wiggles and I visited Chloe in hospital three times this year, and we all were captivated her beautiful spirit. When she passed it was so sad to hear the news, and the funeral was heart breaking. We sang Twinkle Twinkle little star for her - she was an angel.

Jamie: Sporting heroes?

Anthony: I love the rug league players in the West’s Tigers. Being a Sydney boy, I never grew up with VFL, so rug league is my real passion. I still get a thrill watching the Kangaroos take on England in the rug league test matches.

Jamie: Yes, I’ve noticed that the mention of rug league has brought a smile to your face on more than one occasion. Who’s the best player you’ve ever seen?

Anthony: The best player i have ever seen on a rug league field would have to be Balmain Tigers Legend Ellery Hanley. He was known as the Black Pearl, coming out from England to join the tigers and bedazzle the opposition. We nearly won the comp because of Ellery, but the bulldogs king hit him in the grand final! Brett Hodgson and Lote Tuqiri are my favourite players off the field (both tigers).

Jamie: Other than league, is there a moment in Australia’s sporting history that stands out in your mind?

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Anthony: The Americas cup win with John Bertrand, Cathy Freeman, the Socceroos, the ashes wins. But my fave Aussie sporting moment would have to be Kieren Perkins ultimate swimming triumph.

Jamie: Music Heroes?

I love John Williamson - he sings about towns we visit on tour like Mount Isa and Charters Towers, and he writes in such an honest, poetical, humble way. Beautiful melodies and pictures are painted his words.

Jamie: I agree totally, John is an amazing talent and his music is uniquely Australian. Do you have a favourite JW song?

Anthony: I love "Galleries of Pink Galahs", "Back at the Isa", and "Dingo". I love plenty of JW's stuff, but those three get plenty of airtime on my iPod.

Jamie: You mentioned visiting country centres like Mount Isa and Charters Towers – is there a difference in the way country kids react to The Wiggles, as compared to city kids?

Anthony: Jim, I think kids all over the world, city, country, are pretty much the same. The cultural differences are more likely to be noticed in the adults. For example USA audiences are a performers delight. They are so enthusiastic as I know you are aware. Aussie audiences are more laid back, but just as appreciative - I love performing everywhere.

Jamie: I noticed when I was working with you on the Hot Poppin Popcorn DVD and during the live performances together that you take health and fitness very seriously indeed. A drug free lifestyle is also clearly important to you – so, getting back to the subject of sport – what are your thoughts on the recent allegations that illegal drug use is running rampant in certain Aussie football codes?

Anthony: Jim, I need to be in the best shape I can be to make my mind stay positive, and for my body be able to perform at its best. So for me and all the Wiggles, it really is healthy and natural as much as possible. The footballers of all codes in Australia are under such pressure to perform, or to get the edge - so they take what they think is a quicker way to higher performance and strength. I just worry for the people in the jerseys, about what the drugs/supplements are doing to their hearts/nervous systems/blood supply. I think the dangers to the self, far out weigh the rewards.

Jamie: If you could be something else, what would you be?

Anthony: Well, a chiropractor. I love how they can turn on peoples nervous systems, to get them out of pain and drug free. Chiropractors basically got me off pain medication and started me on the track to good health. So if I wasn’t a Wiggle, I would love naturally helping people become pain free.
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Jamie: Are you enjoying the Wiggles Mark 3?

Very much so. I have loved every second of the last 22 years in the Wiggles, and Lachie, Emma, and Simon, have brought some incredible energy back to the scivvies!. I know Muzza, Jeff and Greg, couldn't be happier about how the new group is going.

That’s great to hear. What exciting plans are ahead for new line up, and how are the kids reacting to a female Wiggle ?

Well for me, just still being part of this great Aussie group is exciting. Touring around Australia, we have noticed how a whole new audience has come out to greet the new Wiggles. Emma, the first female Wiggle, is a big hit with the children. At most shows there will be 5 or 6 little girls dressed in a yellow scivvy, with a black skirt and a yellow and black bow in their hair! I would say Emma is a hit with the children, but so are Simon and Lachie - it is very exciting watching it happen all over again.

Jamie: What does the world need most now?

Anthony: Tolerance - who cares if the person next to you is different. Why not celebrate differences instead of criticising them. Colour of skin, religion, sexual orientation - as long as people are not hurting other, live and let live brother!

Jamie: I agree with all you said in relation to tolerance Anthony. But with freedom of speech being a cornerstone of the Aussie way of life and censorship at a point where it’s almost a thing of the past, how do we teach our children not to cross the ever vanishing fine line between unfair and destructive criticism and good old honest social commentary?

Anthony: Yeah, good question Jim. I think, like most things, it all begins at home. We try and encourage our kids to speak up at home if they think something we are doing is unfair. We try not to silence them just because it is easier not to explain why we do things. I think this helps the children’s self esteem - so that when they grow older and leave home, they will have had experience in speaking up and getting answers on what they see as unfair!

Jamie: What do you love about Australia?

The smiles. Most everyone has a smile on their face. People in Australia, I don't know if it's because of the weather or what, but we have a very friendly culture here!

Jamie: Smiles? Now that brings back a memory or two, lol. I remember your brother Paul telling me that having a great big smile on your face was one of the most important elements of a Wiggles performance – and even though I thought I’d mastered smiling after so many years in front of the camera on YTT and on stage during my live shows, my cheeks always felt like they’d done a smiling marathon after a performance with you guy’s, lol. Your understanding of how children think has obviously been an enormous asset to the success of The Wiggles. Have you noticed any changes in the way children view life in 2013, as compared to when you first started out, and have you had to adapt The Wiggles in any way to accommodate that change?

Anthony: Jim, YTT was such a brilliant show. I think because Mr Young was natural, and you were all natural. The smiles didn't seem false, and you all looked like you were having a great time. As you know, we are genuinely having a great time. Those smiles on the Wiggles are the realisation that we have the best job in the world, entertaining families, just like you guys in YTT.

Jamie: What do you think of the digital age?

Anthony: Amazing - mobile phones, phones that are cameras, GPS systems, digital cameras, computers, what an age we live in.
Jamie: I love all of the new stuff too. What’s your favourite new digital tech gizmo?

Anthony: I really think the smart phones are mind blowing. Think back 20 years, it was the stuff of sci–fi. Talking and seeing someone on the other side of the world - taking photos and movies then editing them on the phone. GPS navigation at your finger tips, it is incredible.
Jamie: What implications for parenting does the digital age have?
Anthony: Well, parents can't have their children being "left behind" and not understanding the technology of the day. On the other hand, children need exercise, and other stimulation besides hand held computers. It is up to the parents to limit digital screens and keep interacting with children in the real world!

Jamie: That’s good advice. You appear to have really well grounded terrific kids Anthony, so you must be doing something right. How much computer/digital screen time to you allow them, and how do you make sure they get enough quality time with you and Mikki?

Anthony: I am on Mac chat and Skype most days on the road, and my kids email me and send me text messages (they are very funny most of the time). Miki and I do the same, and send photos across the world of the day that has just passed and what we’ve been doing - it really does help keeping in touch.

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Jamie: People can experience performers via many mediums, ie; live performances, DVD’s and online – but other than seeing a celebrity in person, what do you think a live performance can bring to an audience that DVD’s and other media can’t?

Anthony: Live shows can be a whole adventure for a child that opening a DVD can’t be. First there is the number of sleeps ahead and the anticipation of the big event. Then on the day of the show there’s the packing, the driving, the lining up. A lot of the children who come to our shows have never been to a show before, so it’s all very exciting. Once you have taken the seats, so much to see - the lighting, the video grabs, the music playing. Popcorn, yes "Hot popping popcorn" might be on the menu for a treat. Then the big moment - the show begins, the children can call out, dance around, make a sign to be read out, bring roses for Dorothy or bones for Wags, interact on a one to one level.

The live experience is multi faceted - with so many experiences for the family to share!

Jamie: Thanks for the chat Anto, and here’s hoping the worlds greatest ever children’s band go on to even greater success than they've enjoyed for the past 21 years !

Anthony: Pleasure Jim !

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