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 orginally operated and voiced by Roz Ramsay. Later, children’s author Wendy performed this role. Winky Dink appeared on the children’s live television show the Channel Niners, produced by NWS-9. The show screened in the afternoon from Monday to Friday.
The Channel Niners started in the 1960s, initially hosted by former kindergarten teacher Denny Snowden. In Adelaide, during the 1970s, the Channel Niners was hosted by Helen Woods and Dean Davis. Readers may also remember Dean Davis as the co-host of the immensely popular children’s educational program The Curiosity Show! Patsy Biscoe, Ian Fairweather and Humphrey B. Bear also appeared on the Channel Niners (Heading, Rex, Miracle on Tynte Street: The Channel Nine Story, 1996).
At one point the Channel Niners evolved into the Super Cartoon show. 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.