How Two QLD Blue Heelers With A Modern-Day Dad Are Taking On Peppa Pig

In just a few months, 'Bluey' has gone from unknown underdog to the most downloaded show in ABC iView history.

Its creators are now taking this home-grown animation global, with a bidding war underway for broadcast rights.

If you're hearing more Australian kids referring to each other as 'sport', 'squirt' and 'kiddo' -- you've got 'Bluey' to thank for the renewed enthusiasm for Queensland'esque lexicon.

The uber-popular seven-minute cartoon, tells the story of a six-year-old blue heeler named Bluey, her four-year-old sister Bingo, and parents Bandit (Dad) and Chili (Mum).

Familiar events are hilariously explored in broad Australian accents using familiar colloquialisms.

"Creator Joe Brumm and the team of about 40 animators worked really hard to make it successful, but I don't think any of us expected for it to get so big," executive producer Daley Pearson told 10 daily.

Since its debut in October 2018, 'Bluey' has generated more than 21.3 million views on ABC iView (and counting). The show was also 2018's number one Australian children’s series on broadcast television. Not bad for a Brisbane-made series that has only had 26 episodes to date.

This makes 'Bluey' more popular than kids entertainment stalwarts 'Peppa Pig' and 'The Wiggles'.

The closest iView rival is 'Peppa Pig' -- which has a slightly lower draw, but hundreds of episodes and much longer lifespan.

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So, is a blue heeler from the sunshine state taking the queen of kids television crown off its British pig counterpart?

"Apparently it already has, on the ABC it's outviewing 'Peppa Pig'. But look, a dog and a pig can co-exist, can't they?"  Pearson said.

TV Tonight editor David Knox told 10 daily 'Bluey' is a star for the ABC at a time when kids television is under pressure.

"These shows remind us it's important to have Australian stories on screen and kids will seek out quality productions," Knox said.

On Wednesday, it was announced that 26 new episodes will be launched come April 1. By the end of the year 'Bluey' will be broadcast in almost every country.

Fans have turned to social media to put requests in for merchandise -- for both kids and adult --  a DVD, and a tour of the country. Pearson says they receive numerous emails about it every day and promises merchandise is coming soon, and adult sizes aren't off the table.

"When we first started telling people it's a preschool show but for everyone, it was hard for people to believe us but that's exactly what it is," Pearson said.

Part of the success of the animation series -- about a four-legged family who live in a rambling Queenslander house -- is its ability to appeal to both kids and their parents.

"It's just really lovely to have something that feels so recognizably Australian, but I think it's more than that," television presenter, film critic and technology writer Marc Fennell said.

"There's incredible comic timing in every episode and its also filled with little surprising and subtle references that work for parents too," he told 10 daily.

Bluey’s father Bandit -- voiced by Dave McCormack (frontman of the band Custard) -- is pithy, playful and certainly more emotionally intelligent than the bumbling dad trope often depicted by Daddy Pig and King Thistle.

He is the picture of the modern-day dad. Bandit does lots of housework as well as imaginatively interacting with his daughters.

"The dad dog is also the dad I wish I was," father-of-two Fennell said.

Bluey, sister Bingo and dad Bandit

Also relatable is the work-family juggle as shown by Bluey's mum Chili (played by Queensland actress Melanie Zanetti), who works as an airport security guard.

Emmy Award-winning creative house Ludo Studios produced the series in South Brisbane, employing graduate students from QUT and Griffith University.

The local graduates made up more than half of the project's workforce and each episode took around four months to complete.

The program will be screened on the BBC’s Beebies preschool channel and BBC Studios holds the rights outside Australia. Pearson says a global distributing partner will be announced before December.

"We are very keen to see how the world views this show, which is essentially about a dog in Brisbane," Pearson said.

The creators are adamant that, other than dubbing the show for different language audiences, all English-speaking countries will get the original 'Bluey' -- because Aussie accents and slang is part of its charm.

Bluey screens at 5.50pm weekdays on ABC Kids and available to stream on iView and the ABC Kids apps.

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