It may have broken a few children’s hearts, but the recent announcement that Lachy Gillespie and Emma Watkins (aka the purple and yellow wiggles) are in a relationship has delighted Wiggles’ fans worldwide.
Cath Johnsen caught up with Lachy this week and learnt about his love for Emma, life in the Wiggles, and their newly released DVD Rock & Roll Preschool.
— The Morning Show (@morningshowon7) March 10, 2015
When the much loved Jeff Fatt (the original purple wiggle) hung up his skivvy for the last time in 2012, it was the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts graduate, Lachy Gillespie, who sang and danced his way into the vacated seat in the big red car.
Jeff may have had no formal acting, singing or dancing training, but his love of entertaining children, his penchant for falling asleep mid performance (Wake Up Jeff!) and his rocking style of piano playing left big shoes to fill.
“Jeff was one of the most popular Wiggles; the children absolutely loved him,” Lachy agrees.
“There was something special about what he did on camera. One of the things I loved about him was that he was so responsive to what was happening around him. He is hilarious and so good to watch.”
In 2012, Lachy spent 12 months touring with Jeff and the original Wiggles cast, an experience he describes as “a great learning curve”.
“I think what I took away from Jeff is to just completely be yourself on camera, to try to not overact but just respond to everything that’s happening in a really friendly and fun way, and be as happy as possible,” Lachy explains.
“Jeff has also taught me so much on the piano over the past few years. I played before I started with the Wiggles but his rockabilly way of playing is something that I’ve never seen before. He’s got an incredible technique.”
Purple Wiggle – Lachy
It seems that Lachy has also been learning about love in his time with The Wiggles, culminating in the recent announcement that he and Emma Watkins (the first female Wiggle) have been secretly dating for the past two years.
“We spend so much time together… without exaggerating we spend 340 or 350 days of the year together on tour, and that has happened for the past three or four years where we’ve just been together constantly,” he enthuses.
“When you have a lot in common with someone and you enjoy spending time together away from work too, it’s a really nice thing. That was the case with Emma and I – we always want to be spending time together, which is great. I think it works out really nicely that we can go on tour together and come back and spend time together in the little breaks we have.”
It seems that Lachy has some competition though, with three and four year old boys regularly asking for Emma’s hand in marriage at The Wiggles live shows.
“Yes there’s been quite a few signs popping up at different shows… little boys hold them up, asking Emma to marry them. It’s so cute. I have to watch out!” he laughs.
Jokes aside, Lachy says that he and Emma were initially cautious about their relationship, not wanting to jeopardise their career with The Wiggles.
“It was really important for myself and Emma, we spoke about it all the time, that we really wanted to put the Wiggles first,” he says.
“The responsibility of what we do is really huge and we respect that entirely, so we wanted to give our group and ourselves the best possible start. Now that we’re selling out shows and its going really well, we felt that it was a nice time to make the announcement.”
I ask him whether life with The Wiggles means having to “live beyond reproach” as Paul Paddick (Captain Feathersword) once described it.
“Yeah I think that is why when the originals retired they didn’t search the world for new wiggles or hold auditions, they went with people that were already in the shows,” he explains.
“Anthony’s always been really big on getting people he can trust completely and so they went internal and that’s a really nice thing.
“Being in The Wiggles does come with a huge responsibility; we very much have to respect what we do. That’s why we didn’t go out and show everyone we were a couple to start with.
“And we don’t go out late at night to party or go drinking… we’re not those sort of people anyway.”
However, the Wiggly couple do love writing songs together, exercising, exploring Sydney and spending time with their pet galah, who has made a guest appearance on their latest DVD.
“Emma and I bought him together from a pet shop and he was incredibly sick. After a lot of money and a lot of vet visits we fixed him up and he’s a really healthy and beautiful bird. He talks, has starred on television and has had to have a toe amputated. He’s had an incredible life!” he laughs.
In addition to Lachy and Emma’s pet galah, there are a number of other big-name special guests on the Rock & Roll Preschool DVD including American rocker Lou Diamond Phillips and home-grown talent David Campbell.
“I wrote a song on the album called Mr Wardrobe and it is sung by David Campbell, who has the most amazing musical theatre voice. Hearing someone with a voice like his singing your song is pretty special,” Lachy says.
The DVD features a variety of songs loosely based around a rock and roll theme: there’s songs about going to the library, eating broccoli and even coping with grief, which was inspired by the passing of Emma’s grandmother.
“I’m particularly proud of this album,” Lachy says. “It’s a real collaboration and something that we’ve all had so much fun with. I think it’s our best album yet.”
It’s a far cry from the release of their first Wiggles DVD featuring the new cast, which consisted mostly of Wiggles covers, followed by a tour that didn’t sell out.
“We currently have 176 shows on sale and already 100 of them are sold out,” Lachy shares happily. “The kids are saying our names now, and they love our new songs. I think Do the Propeller has had three million hits on YouTube!
“We love writing the songs and filming the DVDs but the best part of our job is getting on the road to perform in the live shows and meet all the children. That is definitely the best part.”
What’s the school where you sing and dance all day? The Wiggles’ Rock & Roll Preschool! Anthony, Emma, Lachy and Simon have created over 20 songs that will top the charts of every home! You’ll shake to “That’s the Sound of Rock & Roll”, rise and shine with “Wake Up!”, swing along as you “Dance with Emma” and shake your hips with “Two Polite Elvises”. This amazing collection of swinging songs is really all shook up! The Wiggles are joined by friends, including La Bamba star Lou Diamond Phillips from the USA, Aussie entertainer David Campbell and New Zealand’s Robert Rakete. They really are rockin’ all over the world! The Wiggles’ Rock & Roll Preschool is open now and the lesson for today is to have some fun!