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"You can be accused of things." The Wiggles' famous finger move was born out of suspicion.

Almost three decades on, The Wiggles remain one of Australia’s most successful entertainment exports; an international brand earning millions every year from the sale of albums, DVDs, concert tickets and merchandise.

But back when the original group formed in 1991, the industry hesitated to embrace them.

Appearing on Today this week to speak about their sold-out bushfire benefit concert, founding members Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Jeff Fatt recalled being turned away by wary agents in those early days.

“Men singing children’s songs, at the time, that was kind of looked upon suspiciously,” Field, who remains in the band as the ‘Blue Wiggle’, told hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon.

The men, who met at Sydney’s Macquarie University while studying early childhood education, created the group out of a desire to leverage the principles they’d learned to create an educational music album for kids.

“There’s not many of us male preschool teachers; that was an unusual thing,” Cook added on Today.

“So it’s actually good [that changed] because men should be involved with bringing up the children, you know?”

the wiggles cast
The new Wiggles lineup, featuring Emma Watkins, Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce. Image: Getty.
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It's also from this sad truth about children's safety that The Wiggles' most iconic move was born.

Speaking to Marc Fennell on SBS programme The Feed in 2019, Murray Cook explained that the famous 'Wiggles fingers' gesture was created out of necessity.

"The thing of being a man in early childhood [education], when you're a teacher in early childhood, you have to be aware that you can be accused of things," he said.

"In photos for instance, if there are kids there, if you've got your hands doing this [gesture], everyone sees where your hands are."

It's a reality Paul Paddick, the man who played Captain Feathersword, was forced to accept when he joined the cast in 1993.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Paddick said he was told by The Wiggles' team that any physical contact with children - no matter how innocent - was inappropriate and put them at risk of litigation.

"I didn't know any of that stuff when I first became Captain Feathersword," he told the paper back in 2005. "I've got lots of nieces and nephews and I'm very hands-on."

The policy it seems has been in place since The Wiggles' first rose to fame back in the early 1990s.

"It's a shame that that is an issue, but it's an issue," Cook told SBS. "You have to protect yourself as well."

Featured image: Getty.

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