TV

Dominic Cummings got it wrong. Hey Duggee is the kids' show we need to watch

While the Prime Minister's top advisor is singing the praises of PJ Masks, the people who will be running the country in the future are tuning in to Hey Duggee – Charlotte Rowles offers ten reasons why it's the best kids' show on television…

When Boris Johnson’s special adviser, Dominic Cummings, quoted PJ Masks as the solution to the ongoing woes of the HS2 rail-link and its spiralling costs, focus was drawn to kids TV. Could these shows really hold the keys to a brighter future?

But Cummings got it wrong. For, as many parents and toddlers will tell you, the best TV for kids is an animation called Hey Duggee featuring a dog (Duggee) and five characters called the Little Squirrels, who learn and have adventures, earning their activity badges.

Shown on CBeebies, this BAFTA-winner has won a big following among small people. Hey Duggee covers every subject from cake and caterpillars to yoga and making friends, taking young viewers on a fun journey of discovery. And although it has not, yet, had an episode called The High Speed Rail Link Badge, it can surely only be a matter of time.

Here are ten reasons why Hey Duggee is must-watch TV…

1: Humour In The Omelette Badge, Duggee’s chickens have stopped laying eggs. The reason: they are binge-watching a Spanish soap opera and eating junk food. My two-year-old just says “Funny” whenever watching the show – a bit like a brutal, mono- syllabic critic.

2: Genius voice artists Bringing to life the show’s characters takes a special voiceover artist and there are many to be found here – with Pointless host Alexander Armstrong voicing Duggee. One of the best is former Birds of a Feather star, Lesley Joseph. As Tag’s mum she is suitable saucy with Duggee. In the Big Day Out Badge: she eyes him seductively, purring: “Hey Duggee…. nice uniform”.  Innuendo was never this much fun.

A shared nostalgia. That was what I was aiming for with Hey Duggee

3: Parents and kids watch together Grant Orchard, the show’s creator said he had designed the show as a shared experience. He told me: “When I started making Hey Duggee I’d just finished watching pre-school shows with my oldest boy. I was so grateful for the shows that distracted and entertained him. I loved them because he loved them. I wanted to create something that parents and kids would watch together and fondly remember when the kids were all grown up. A shared nostalgia. That was what I was aiming for with Hey Duggee.

4: Inclusion There is a same sex couple in Mr Crab and his partner, Nigel (below). Happy the Crocodile lives with his mum, an elephant. There is no big fuss made about either.

Mr Crab and Nigel
Mr and Mr Crab in Hey Duggee

5: Celebrating strong characters Most parents would recognise the overly-confident Betty who invents a Haldron washing machine in The Crazy Golf Badge. The perpetually energetic and noisy Roly who always seems to need the loo.

6: Amazing sidekicks In addition to the main characters, the show has a great rota of supporting characters. My favourite is Tino the artistic mouse. In one episode, he says: “Au revoir… that’s goodbye in French”. Quelle souris intelligente! Hennie the 100-foot bird and Enid the Cat also deserve a special mention.

While other shows, hammer home Ofsted-approved curriculum points, Hey Duggee takes a more subtle approach

7: Amazing visuals The show is a joy to watch with eye-catching graphics, bright colours, composition and typography. The look captivates bouncy kids and sleepy adults alike.

8: Learning through adventure While other shows, hammer home Ofsted-approved curriculum points, Hey Duggee takes a more subtle approach. Adolescence and learning about development is covered in the hilarious Tadpole Badge, while nature is celebrated in The Tree Badge.

9: Duggee’s special perspective In The History Badge, Roly asks: what is history? We are told history is ‘everything that happened before breakfast’. And it’s very hard to argue with that definition.

10: Songs The Stick Song (see video, above) was recently voted the Best Moment Ever in Hey Duggee. It’s a worthy winner: joyful, inventive, fun and impossible to stop watching. A bit like the show itself…

All episodes of Hey Duggee are available on iPlayer

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