Adelaide’s famous duckling
On page 16 of the edition dated 17 January 1973, in the section entitled Tea Tree Plaza News, The Leader Messenger promoted its forthcoming school holiday programs. The caption accompanying the photograph stated that kids could see shows featuring celebrities such as Channel 9’s Hot Dog and Cheryl. But who is that little bird sitting in a bucket, pictured in the centre of the photograph? If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s and watched Channel 9 after school, you will probably remember that small pink duck with fondness.
Winky Dink was a sweet-natured, happy young duck. The puppet was operated and voiced by children’s author Wendy Patching. Winky starred on the Adelaide children’s show the Channel Niners, produced by NWS-9. The show screened in the afternoon from Monday to Friday.
Pam Tamblin and Ashleigh Mac originally hosted the Channel Niners. They were later replaced by Patsy Biscoe and Ian Fairweather. The final presenters of the show were Joanna “Joey” Moore and “Robby” Robin Roenfeldt. Channel Niners was repackaged during the mid 1980s as C’mon Kids, screening from 1986 to 1990.
Winky often made references to the duckpond where he lived, looking down through the aperture in the desk. Winky Dink’s favourite treat was sugared worms. I remember one episode of the Channel Niners in which a young viewer once sent Winky a small box of sugared worms. The contents resembled Allen’s Snakes coated in sugar!
If you found Winky Dink to be too sweet or you just didn’t like his voice, the early days of the show also featured zany, rude Wilbur Worm. Wilbur would make funny, insulting remarks to Winky (by the standards of a children’s program) which their human comperes would have to counteract. However, Winky had pluck. Winky could hold his own and was usually ready with a quick reply to Wilbur’s jibes, creating a humourous interchange between the two characters.