Angela and Penny's Holiday

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					Angela and Penny's Holiday
Katrina Lobley
August 17, 2007
Children's entertainers aren't like the rest
of us. On any given day, they might be
cantering like a pony, barking like a dog
or dressing in a postman costume. But
you don't usually find them taking
questions in their underwear.
Penny Biggins, a former Play School
pianist, is squeezing a photo call and
interview about one kids' show between
rehearsals for another and urgently needs
to change. With no time for modesty, she
whips the dress off over her head and
keeps on talking.
Seeing Biggins in her bra is completely
unexpected, but then Biggins is not your
everyday type of person. The wise-
cracking sister of humorist Jonathan
Biggins is performing in a children's
show she wrote with her long-time
friend and collaborator, former Play
School presenter Angela Moore.
Biggins and Moore came up with the idea for their 45-minute show for three- to eight-year-
olds, Angela and Penny's Holiday, after Biggins took an odd call from the City of Sydney.
The caller wanted to know if she could play the piano accordion while roller-skating.
"I said, 'I'm sorry, that's something I haven't quite mastered," Biggins says. "However, Angela
from Play School and I could do a half-hour show.' I think they thought we had a show
already but of course we didn't.
"I had to ring Angela and say, 'I've got us this great gig on New Year's Eve down at the
Botanic Gardens. We'll be able to see the fireworks, it'll be fantastic. What are we doing? Ah,
well, yes ...' "
The musical pair - Moore plays saxophone - sat down and wrote some catchy songs for their
show, based on the idea of an old-fashioned Aussie holiday in a caravan park. Biggins says
the allure of the caravan park lies in the fact "it's such a cute little contained world".
The show has even influenced the holiday plans of audience members.
"One woman said to us after a show, 'I had to stay in a caravan because of you!' " Biggins
says. "She said, 'We were going to visit my brother-in-law at Lakes Entrance or somewhere
and I had in mind a resort. Our daughter insisted that we go and stay in a caravan park.' She
then said it was quite fun, actually."
Moore says she and Biggins drew on their Play School experience to entertain the younger
set: "We knew what worked for kids - the jokes they like, what they respond to. They love
getting up and being involved."
Biggins says: "They like hiding and then all of a sudden being revealed. It's the oldest stuff in
the book and you think, 'Oh, surely they won't respond to that.' But [the ideas are] very
simple things that have stood the test of time."

The women also throw in a few lines for the parents. Biggins, who says her sense of humour
is squarely in the Benny Hill tradition, says: "The children have to come first, obviously,
because if you lose the kids the whole thing is just a disaster. But if you're quick you can
chuck in a couple of other things."
She is also bemused by the post-show comments that parents make to her, particularly about
her turn as the "Mozzie in a Cozzie" who tries to bite Angela on the bum.
"People come up to me after the show and say, 'Oh, you in that costume, you're so brave!
You've got a little bit of cellulite just like all of us! It makes us feel quite reassured.' I get a bit
hurt, actually."
In fact, many come to the show just to see Biggins do Mozzie in a Cozzie - the song has its
own video clip that runs between children's shows on ABC TV.
"That's where you realise the power of television," Moore says. "When people come up to
you to talk about Mozzie in a Cozzie."
The area of children's entertainment features some big names - the Wiggles, the Hooley
Dooleys and Hi-5, for example - but Moore and Biggins say they're different.
"I think because we've had a background in comedy, [the show] is quite funny," Moore says.
"We like to think that's our point of difference."
The pair say they make a good writing team. "I usually start with some lyrics and then Penny
takes over and gets a tune together and fiddles with my lyrics," Moore says. "Penny gets her
ideas in the shower and I get mine walking the dog, so if we're getting stuck that's what we go
and do."
"Oh yes," Biggins says, "when those water restrictions came in it was terrible. I thought,
'Well, that's the end of our career, really.' "
Jokes aside, Biggins says part of the reason for Holiday's success is the sheer warmth Moore
exudes onstage. Indeed, when Moore starts singing, turning it on for the camera, it's easy to
see what Biggins means.
Biggins says to her co-star: "You are so warm and gorgeous onstage ... whereas I'm slightly
waspish. You're much better because you don't go that step too far, which I think I sometimes
Moore says: "My main comment [to Penny] after the show is 'Maybe just a little less talking,
less babble between numbers?' We have a script but Penny loves to add things in."

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