The Kiwis behind the children’s show that knocked Peppa Pig out of the top spot

My name is Sarah and I’m jealous of an animated dog.

In fact, I’m jealous of two of them. Two sisters close in age, they quarrel, but obviously love each other.

They almost always play together and spend an enormous amount of time playing with their mother and father, who somehow find the energy and patience to participate in their often ridiculously detailed, tiring and strenuous game. I’m jealous of Bluey, and I’m not the only one.

Bluey is a bona fide hit - and the latest season will have even more NZ touches in it.


Bluey is a bona fide hit – and the latest season will have even more NZ touches in it.

Animated TV show Bluey first shown in Australia in 2018 after a successful pitch at the Asian Animation Summit.

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Set in Brisbane, the real home of Ludo – the production studio that makes the show – Bluey is about an animated family of four Blue Heeler dogs: mother Chilli, father Bandit, youngest daughter Bingo and eldest daughter Bluey.

Australia immediately opened its heart to what felt like an authentic representation of growing up Down Under. In New Zealand, it instantly became a hit on TVNZ OnDemand. Season 2 followed, cementing Bluey’s Australasian success and leads to Disney + picking it up in the US.

The program also became a certifiable international hit that knocks on Peppa Pig out of the top spot and introduces a generation of American kids to phrases like “cheese and crackers” and “lobber dobber.”

It also won the Ludo team 2019 International Emmy Kids Award for best preschool program and the inclusion on many lists of best television in 2020, including Rolling stones the magazine’s best TV sitcoms of all time.

The idea for Bluey originated in London from Australian Joe Brumm, who worked on the animated children’s show, Charlie and Lola. There he met two New Zealand animators: Rich Jeffery and Mark Paterson.

When Brumm returned to Australia and found that the TV options for his own children’s viewing were lacking, he decided to create the show he had been talking about in London. Mark Paterson helped create the protagonist’s design for the pilot, which eventually came into being Bluey episode, The weekend.

New Zealand Bluey animator Mark Paterson.


New Zealand Bluey animator Mark Paterson.

Bandit’s father dances in the opening lyrics – the lawnmower and the sprinkler? It’s Mark Paterson at work. Based in Auckland, Paterson says he enjoys working remotely.

He animates about 15 scenes per. episode, and each six-minute episode represents about four weeks of work.

“I’m so grateful for technology,” Paterson said of Zoom. “When I started in the industry, I worked on paper. Literally sending boxes of pages, always afraid that something would happen and they would disappear. ”

Paterson is educated in New Zealand at what is now the Yoobee College of Design in Auckland. Just a few years behind Paterson at Yoobee was Bluey Series director Rich Jeffery. Both credit Footrot Flats as being a significant influence on their animation career.

IN Bluey, Mackenzie, a black and white sheepdog, is a tribute to Dog from Footrot Flats, with Jeffery pronouncing Mackenzie’s father.

In Bluey, Mackenzie, a black and white sheepdog, is a tribute to Dog from Footrot Flats.


In Bluey, Mackenzie, a black and white sheepdog, is a tribute to Dog from Footrot Flats.

“My New Zealand accent is not the best anymore. It’s a little embarrassing, ”says Jeffrey.

Mackenzie is not Bluey’s only Kiwi friend. The Terriers are resolutely Kiwi, and the new season promises more New Zealand content, with some notable high-profile friends of the show lending their voices to new characters.

Who exactly? To say that security is tight in the new season is an understatement. Everyone involved has sworn secrecy, but Paterson said, keep an eye on the episode Obstacle course in particular.

“It’s a really fun, energetic episode that was also challenging to animate – and it shows that Bandit is not always the perfect father.”

New Zealand Bluey animator Rich Jeffery.


New Zealand Bluey animator Rich Jeffery.

For a show aimed at children, there has been a lot of discussion about parenting and Bluey.

Lately, some parents have been complaining Bluey makes them feel like failures because they can not live up to the standard of the show. Then there are people like me who wish they had grown up like Bluey – with parents like Chilli and Bandit and a sibling relationship like Bingo and Blueys.

I played games with my parents – but 40 years ago it was not the same. There were different expectations of behavior for children and parents, and there were not many children’s TV shows that just caught the attention of both parents and child together. And that’s the critical difference between Bluey and a lot of other children’s shows. Parents turn it on and want to see it with their children.

“It sounds cheesy, but Bluey has heart and soul, and it’s related and positive,” Jeffery said. “It’s real, and people can tell it.”

The terriers are resolutely Kiwi, and the new season promises more New Zealand content.


The terriers are resolutely Kiwi, and the new season promises more New Zealand content.

“It’s sincerity mixed with fart jokes,” Paterson said. “Relax stick and sincerity, fun and genuine feelings – even the big ones.”

Talk to any group of parents about Bluey, and the episode Sleep time usually comes up. Written by show creator Brumm as a tribute to his children who grew up learning to sleep in their large cribs, it’s an epic, sweeping episode with almost no dialogue, referring to Kubrick, Holst’s The Planet Suite and Water ship down. By comparing a mother’s love with the heat of the sun, it manages to be very emotional and a lot of fun.

The episode Markets from season one, made several Down Under fans of Bluey living USA laughs when they noticed an unusual editing.

The beautiful Buttermilk, a pony that can be ridden at the fair, provides a completely natural, completely compostable punchline during the episode when she poses loudly, immediately after Bluey and her friend praise her for her incredible beauty. Except in the version that aired in the US, pooing is mysteriously gone and the joke loses its punchline.

Some parts of life Down Under are apparently too real for an American audience.

* Season 3 of Bluey will be available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand from December 19th

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