Detail from a hand-drawn Christmas card showing Mr Squiggle carrying a golden glittery moon

Mr Squiggle's Christmas cards

From Norman Hetherington to Patricia Lovell
 Jessica Bolton

Red and black anniversary card with Mr Squiggle crowned by hearts and the numbers 1 to 5
Norman Hetherington's card to Patricia Lovell celebrating five years working together, 1965. NFSA title:1488325

This collection of hand-illustrated greeting cards from Mr Squiggle and Friends creator Norman Hetherington to Pat Lovell is representative of a wonderful working friendship.

Mr Squiggle the marionette was the popular ABC children's character with the pencil nose who lived at 93 Crater Crescent, The Moon. Mr Squiggle and his friends Rocket, Blackboard, Gus the snail and Bill Steamshovel were the artistic creations of Norman Hetherington. Norman's wife Margaret shared in their creation and worked behind the scenes on the show's script. For 15 years, Mr Squiggle was ably assisted on screen by ‘Miss Pat’, Patricia Lovell.

Every year Norman created a new Christmas card design, often featuring characters from Mr Squiggle and Friends, for his Christmas mail-out to family, friends and colleagues. The cards he sent to Pat Lovell were a lot more personal and they wonderfully document particular stages in her career as well as the film and television industry more broadly.

Celebrating picnics, anniversaries and colour TV

A ‘Happy Anniversary’ card (above right) marks the 5th anniversary of Mr Squiggle on TV which occurred in 1965.

You can see a selection of his other cards to Pat Lovell in the gallery below (click on image to open).

Norman’s 1975 Christmas card celebrates the introduction of colour television, with a black-and-white Mr Squiggle diving into a pot of colour. Another card from 1975 depicts an alarm clock ringing at 4:15 am and the Mr Squiggle characters in bed while Miss Pat runs out the door. This card marks the end of Pat Lovell’s time on Mr Squiggle and her transition to presenter on ATN-7’s early morning Sydney Today show. The card is signed by members of the cast and crew and includes Mr Squiggle’s signature line ‘You have been such a help, Miss Pat’.

There’s also a good luck card to Pat wishing her all the best for the Sydney premiere of Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), a project she initiated and on which she served as a producer. The illustrated characters remark that, ‘Life always was a PICNIC with you, Miss Pat’ and ‘Yummy, I like hanging rocks’ appears on the reverse side of the card.

The ink and watercolour cards have an elegant simplicity to them, and Norman often added a festive touch with a shiny star sticker or a gold-sequinned cardboard moon.

Norman Hetherington and Patricia Lovell on the set of Mr Squiggle with characters Mr Squiggle and Bill the Steamshovel
Norman Hetherington and Patricia Lovell on the set of Mr Squiggle with characters Mr Squiggle and Bill the Steamshovel, c1970. Courtesy Pat Lovell. NFSA title: 1488351

Left: an on-set publicity still from the 1970s featuring Norman Hetherington and Pat Lovell on the set of Mr Squiggle and Friends with characters Bill the Steamshovel and Mr Squiggle. The picture evokes the sentiment of the time and communicates the creative, fun and generous spirit of creators Norman and Margaret Hetherington and producer Pat Lovell in their work on the show. The simply constructed set seen here wonderfully complements the beautifully hand-crafted puppets made by Norman. The image reinforces the key reasons for the show's success: its fun, imaginative and interactive nature.

Norman Hetherington (1921-2010) had a long and creative career as a cartoonist, illustrator and puppeteer. He also served in the Second World War with the First Australian Army Entertainment Unit where he produced paintings and drawings recording army life and army leisure as well as the people he encountered during his time in Dutch New Guinea, New Britain and elsewhere. Norman's daughter Rebecca Hetherington remarked that he was a prolific artist who ‘never stopped working – morning, noon and night’.

While Patricia Lovell (1929-2013) is fondly remembered as Miss Pat on Mr Squiggle and Friends, she also produced the show and had a long and distinguished career in Australian film and TV. Her feature film productions included Gallipoli (1981) and Monkey Grip (1982), and she was head of Producing at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School from 1996-2003.