The Wiggles have today announced that Yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins will depart the popular children's group at the end of this year.
Watkins has worked with The Wiggles for 11 years, nine of them as the Yellow Wiggle, and has become one of the group's most popular members in that time as the first female Wiggle. She will be replaced by a new Yellow Wiggle, Tsehay Hawkins, one of four new members who recently joined the group.
In a statement issued to media today announcing the move, Watkins explained that the Covid lockdowns of the past two years had given her time to reassess what she wanted.
"Like many people around the world, the pandemic has given me time to reflect on what is important in life. For me, that means spending more time at home, something that I didn't realise I was missing out on being away eight months of the year on tour, but something that I have really cherished over the last 18 months," she said.
"I am also really looking forward to devoting more time and energy on completing my PhD that incorporates my ongoing passion for sign language, dance and film editing, and to having more time to work with the Deaf community.
"I am eternally grateful to The Wiggles for giving me the amazing opportunity to be the first female Wiggle, a role that I have loved and one that has brought me so much joy and an abundance of 'bowtiful' memories that I will treasure forever.
Watkins' replacement, Tsehay (pronounced se-hi, which means 'the sun' in Amharic), was recently announced as one of the new Wiggles' cast members of Fruit Salad TV. The award-winning dancer said she was "incredibly excited to be joining (The Wiggles) in the yellow skivvy and to have the chance to go out on the road in the new arena tour."
The group's Australian arena tour will take place in February 2022.
Watkins' decision to leave the group comes months after she announced she was engaged to Wiggles bandmate Oliver Brian, an engagement that came three years after her split from Purple Wiggle and ex-husband Lachlan Gillespie. Watkins and Gillespie continued to work together in The Wiggles after their split, even self-isolating together during the coronavirus pandemic.
Watkins, 32, confirmed the news of her engagement to Brian on Instagram in May, showing off her engagement ring and revealing that Brian, who plays banjo in The Wiggles' band, had popped the question.
Watkins first confirmed her romance with Brian in December 2019, telling Stellar magazine: "Yes, I'm in love and I feel very excited to tell you."
Watkins revealed that she and her new beau had worked together for four years before he asked her to dinner, describing him as her "opposite".
"He's a very calm and thoughtful person and I've always been interested in his mind and his take on life, and his morals."