We Spoke to the Dancing Pink Windmill Kids to See What They're Up to Now

What does it feel like to find out you've gone viral 32 years after being really enthusiastic about your own name on a kids' TV show?

by Marianne Eloise
08 December 2016, 1:24pm

There's no exact science behind which old TV segments will be forgotten and which will become high-grade meme fodder. So we may never know what prompted the digging up of this segment from Emu's All Live Pink Windmill Show's "Can't Stop the Music" segment in late November. Regardless, within days, the clip of ten kids being very enthusiastic about their own names has managed to find its way all over the internet, from viral tweets through companies capitalising on the meme.

I wanted to find out how it feels to discover your face has gone global 32 years after filming a little opening sequence video for TV show, so I tracked down some of the cast to ask them.

VICE: What do you remember about filming the segment? How did you feel about it at the time?
Catrina: I loved it. It was so much fun, but very nerve-racking as it was live TV. We were told just before we went to air there would be millions of people in England watching this; who knew there would be even more worldwide in 2016.

Hugh: Up until a few years ago, when some co-workers stumbled across the clip on YouTube, I didn't really remember much about it. Now, the memories have come flooding back. I recall being nervously excited about doing a live TV show, because up until then all our Emu's World shows were pre-recorded, so it was a huge deal and no one wanted to be the one to get it wrong on the day.

Emma: I remember it like it was yesterday. I was excited and nervous at the same time because we were going out live on TV for the first time.

Debbie now

Debbie:I remember this episode being the first of the live shows, hence why we did the named introductions. I always got nervous before any performance, but we were stage school kids, so we were trained and poised and just got on with it. It was an all good, exciting and happy time.

Spencer: For this new live format they only had ten children, whereas there had been 20 to 30 before, and we were more involved in the show, so they had us perform this little song to introduce ourselves. I was very nervous as I hadn't done any live TV before, but once it all begun and we went live it was an amazing experience – such a buzz.

Joe: I remember thinking that it didn't rhyme! I wasn't quite sure about the line, "And I'm Joe to you!" – like I'm Brenda to everyone else?

Abbie: At the time I was the youngest, and had been for a while. I have no particular memories of this routine as I had so much fun filming them all. I was nervous and very excited, as it was a live show.

Catrina now

What did you do in the years after, and what are you up to now?
Catrina: I was lucky! Once I left the show and Corona Academy stage school I went straight into a touring musical, had a record contract with CBS Epic and released a single called "Born Too Late". I then went on to present The DJ Kat Show for a couple of years in the early days of Sky1. Now I'm creating and performing in theatre in education shows in Australia, and I currently have five shows available for pre-school age kids. I live with my two fabulous kids, who scarily enough both have a passion for the arts.

Hugh: After I left school I tried to pursue a career in dancing and acting, but the parts available I wasn't keen on doing at all, or if I did like the part I wasn't successful in getting it. My love for the martial arts had set in at this point, and I'd started studying various martial arts styles, which I still do to this day. Now I'm a 6th Dan master in the art of Choi Kwang Do. I'm also a combat fitness instructor and I teach a drum 'n' bass-inspired workout called "Fight Klub"; I have classes in Islington and Watford. This year I was voted "People's Choice Instructor of the Year".

Emma: I went on to teach dance and drama at a stage school called Kidz in the Biz. I had four sons and, for the past ten years, I have worked for Disney's The Lion King in the Lyceum Theatre West End as wardrobe assistant, so now I put actors on the stage.

Abbie now

Joe: I continued to act and present on kids' TV throughout the 90s – Motormouth, Spatz, Megamania, The DJ Kat Show. I was also in an episode of Poirot. I'm a director, cameraman and video editor now, which is a lot less embarrassing.

Spencer: After this series I was lucky enough to do another 13-week live run. I was always a bit of a joker, and during this run one of my pranks went wrong and I broke a lift in the hotel we stayed in – not good. Anyway, I wasn't chosen to work on the show after that series had ended; I think I was too much of a liability. So I was 14 by this time and a bit lost to be honest as I had been involved with the show for such a long time. I did a few bits of dancing here and there but it was never the same as working with the old gang, and I quickly realised that I really didn't want to be a performer. So I eventually started working for a research company, and I still work in the research industry now – mostly in data management, which is quite a different path from jumping about in Pink Windmill.

Debbie: I stayed at Corona Academy until I was 17 years old, and then sadly, in 1988/89, they closed the school down. In my mind I was an actress, and that was that. So when the school closed down I was at a loss for a second. Then my mother told me to go to university and do a computer degree. So I did. I still worked in acting for a few years during college and university, and appeared in The Bill, Desmonds and other bits and pieces. However, when I finished my degree I went into advertising – it was as close to the "arts" as I could get – and here I have stayed. I have a wonderful son, who's a musical prodigy – according to me, anyway – and a great partner. In my spare time I write poetry, which I've performed a couple of times. Oh, and I'm a HUGE Beyoncé fan. Love her. I'm not sure how that's relevant, but then again, I'm in a 30-year-old viral video, so...

Abbie: I'm a very happy wife, mother of a daughter, and I have just completed an ambulance technician course. I've also been involved in politics over a number of years.

Hugh now

How do you feel about the resurfacing of the video and its new life as a meme?
Catrina: Initially I was surprised, then very reminiscent; this was a great, fun, exciting and happy time of my life. Do I find it fun or weird, or am I enjoying it? Yes all of the above. People on the whole seem to love the colour and joy, even if it is a little cheesy.

Hugh: I was contacted back in October and a friend of mine asked me if the "Hugh" in the clip was me. When I saw the heading I laughed, but at the same time I was mortified and a little annoyed, to be honest. I urged my friend not to share it with anyone, naively thinking it wouldn't go any further. Then, towards the end of November, I started getting messages from random people asking if I was the guy in the clip, and a few friends also started to comment. I saw the clip had nearly 2 million views and thought, 'Damn! It's gone viral!' so I just had to embrace it.

Now I'm enjoying my second round of "15 minutes of fame". I thought people were going to be cruel, and on some comments I've read they have been. However, the majority of people have been really nice and have enjoyed watching the clip several times because it makes them laugh. I'm OK with it now. I think the thing that worried me the most was being seen in pink jogging bottoms – NOT LEGGINGS – that I had rolled up way too high. I'm cringing at the thought of it now.

Emma now

Emma: I think it's funny. It's been so nice to reminisce over it; we had so much fun doing the show and I have such wonderful memories.

Joe: When I first saw it I couldn't stop laughing – it's like we're all off our heads on happy pills. Imagine turning up to work on your first day and being welcomed like that! Debbie and Abbie can't wait to get out of their seats, and what about Anthony mouthing their lines? Then we go into some weird arm wiggle move? "Camp" is an understatement.

Spencer: I think it's rather amusing. And off the back of it we've all decided to meet up in the new year. Although some of us see each other from time to time we haven't all been together at the same time for 30 years, so I'm really looking forward to us all getting together.

Debbie: I think it's hilarious. I love that, after 30-odd years, a show that gave a few kids something to look forward to on a Wednesday afternoon at 4PM is now giving a good few million people something to laugh about all over the world. Especially since there hasn't been much to laugh about in 2016. So a bit of light relief, with my mush all over it, is bloody awesome! Advertisers pay hundreds of thousands of pounds for one-third of the views, so to me it's "viral video gold".

Abbie: It's been fabulous and has brought back so many happy memories. If it puts a smile on someone's face, it makes it even better!


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Marianne Elosie