The Wiggles shake it up! Meet the female dancer, 22, set to join popular children's group in cast overhaul
15:13 GMT, 18 May 2012
Girl power: Emma Watkins will slip on a yellow skivvy to join The Wiggles
The Wiggles is set to get a female member as part of a shake-up of one of the world's most popular children's groups.
Three members of the Australian music quartet will be hanging up their bright skivvies and leaving the band this year, with the Blue Wiggle the lone original member left dancing.
Jeff Fatt (Purple Wiggle), Murray Cook (Red Wiggle) and Greg Page (Yellow Wiggle) will leave after the group wraps up a 'Celebration Tour' that begins this month and ends in Australia in December, the band said in a statement Thursday.
The trio will no longer perform but will take on backstage, creative roles.
Three replacements have already been chosen to join Anthony Field (Blue Wiggle), who helped found the group in 1991.
Performers Emma Watkins, Lachlan Gillespie, and Simon Pryce will become the new Yellow, Purple and Red Wiggles, respectively.
Dancer Watkins, 22, is delighted to be the first permanent female member in the group's history. She will take on the yellow skivvy.
Children's favourite: Murray Cook (Red Wiggle), Greg Page (Yellow Wiggle) and Jeff Fatt (Purple Wiggle) are being replaced but Anthony Field (Blue Wiggle) will remain
'I've been a huge fan of The Wiggles since I was a little girl, so it's a huge privilege to be invited to wear one of the skivvies and perform for a whole new generation of children,' she said.
She joined The Wiggles two years ago, starting out as Fairy Larissa and taking on other roles such as Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and more recently as a Wiggly Dancer.
Since 1991, the group has earned worldwide renown with dozens of pop-influenced children's albums, concert tours and a television show featuring singing, jumping, dancing and skits with recurring characters like Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus.
New look: Simon Pryce will be the new Red Wiggle and Lachlan Gillespie will be the new Purple Wiggle
The demands of touring and performing have taken their toll, and the three departing members want to spend more time with their families, Cook said.
'We've been entertaining children around the world for 21 years and it's important that we plan for the future so that The Wiggles can keep wiggling in the years to come,' Cook said in the statement.
Page, who made a surprise return to the group in January after leaving five years earlier due to illness, said it was time to move on.
'When The Wiggles asked me to return to the group last year I was excited at the thought of performing with the three guys that I started the group with 21 years ago,' Page said.
'With Murray and Jeff's decision to stop performing at the end of the year it's a nice sense of closure to also end my time on stage during the final tour with all the original members of the group.'
Page, Field and Cook had studied early childhood education before they founded The Wiggles in Sydney in 1991.
The band has sold more than 23 million DVDs and 7 million CDs worldwide, and its TV shows are broadcast in more than 100 countries, according to The Wiggles' website.