Exclusive: Australia’s super-hit animated series ‘Bluey’ to release in India on Cbeebies; BBC Studios’ Henrietta Hurford-Jones shares insights

Credits – BBC

Having regaled children all across the west, popular kids’ animated series Bluey is now set to land in India on Cbeebies on 14 June. Scooping up multiple awards ranging from the International Emmy Kids Award in the prestigious Preschool Category to AACTA Awards for Best Children’s Program down to the very recent Kidscreen Awards, it is undoubtedly becoming a favourite show for children and parents globally.

Ahead of its release date, we spoke to BBC Studios director of Children’s Content Partnerships and executive producer of Bluey Henrietta Hurford-Jones to understand the magic behind its popularity. Touching upon what makes it so palatable amongst kids and how they view India’s kids’ animation scenario to their expectations and future plans, Hurford-Jones candidly discussed various aspects of the upcoming series’ Bluey and the overall kids’ animation genre.

Here are some excerpts of the chat:

Henrietta Hurford-Jones

What spurred you on to release this series in India?

CBeebies in India is really popular with kids, parents, and we have a unique mix of programming including live-action showing kids on screen, mixed media shows, and key animated content like Hey Duggee. Bluey is an exciting new brand based around a family that we think will work really well in India and we’re very excited to see the response.

What are the elements that make Bluey so entertaining for kids? What is the one striking feature of this series that makes it such a hit among the children?

Bluey is a really fresh look at a contemporary family. It’s based in Brisbane, Australia, which makes it pretty unique. The look of it is great.

The colour palette, the locations, the family interactions are totally unique. The stories are told with warmth and humour and these characters are very real. Basically, Bluey and Bingo play elaborate games with parents, friends, and it’s all about the joy and the strangeness of children’s play. Bluey is the only series that also, I think, focuses on how funny play can be and how intense it can get. But the storylines are often just set around the family in their home or in their garden, and really show things that are instantly recognisable for kids and parents everywhere across the world, from all stages of life and locations. 

We have episodes that are about getting bored in the car or on a journey. We’ve got a father who’s fantastically patient, and always willing to play and pretend with them, and a mother who is also quite similar.

It is really just something new on-screen to see this kind of modern family. Joe Brumm, the creator of Bluey, has a really strong voice that is set around his family and his vision. And it really is a visually pleasing experience for parents and children to watch together which I think is what makes it so special. It’s got a really broad appeal not just to all age groups of kids but also to grandparents, parents, and I think that’s the joy of it, and it really is something very special.

How has the response been for Bluey from other parts of the world?

We’ve had an amazing response. In the US we launched in 2020 and we’ve seen it suddenly become a show that the US press and everybody are talking about in such a positive and exciting way. And so it’s clearly resonating with audiences in other parts of the world. We launched it in the UK very recently, in April, and it has very quickly become one of the number one shows on our UK CBeebies or our mother channel. We have huge expectations for it to do the same in India on the CBeebies platform.

What are your expectations from the Indian market?

As I said, I think the Indian market will respond in the same way that we have seen the other markets do. I think that everyone will recognise this family group and how special and unique they are and how true to life it is. It is truly authentic. The show not just portrays exemplary parenting but also shows the things that parents struggle with. It’s just something that I think all can identify with. For kids, it is very funny. And I think that’s something that everyone in the world can appreciate; the kind of release of laughter and happiness and seeing something that they can really believe in and feel themselves.

Credits – BBC

While we’re seeing content pouring in from all across the world, do you have any plans of co-producing children’s content in India, and helping tell Indian stories to the kids?

Yes, I am certainly open to Indian animations and stories. Any great content we could co-produce, I think, could definitely work. We’ve looked at this before too. We have always created standard narrative and character-led shows which we are always looking forward to. Whilst we work mainly with the BBC Children’s in the UK to produce best in class programming for preschoolers, Bluey is a good example of our desire to always strive for a healthy partnership with the ABC in Australia and Ludo Studio, and I think, India’s tradition of storytelling and fables segues quite neatly with this. I think it would just be about making that co-production work and something that would work for all of us. We are certainly open to it.

What steps do you take to ensure diversity and content?

We have shows that show very explicitly a diverse diversity, such as JoJo & Gran Gran, which we’re launching soon. In our animated shows like Hey Duggee and Bluey, you can see the diversity in terms of the characters of the children, the way things are expressed, but as they’re anthropomorphic, they feature dogs or other animals. It’s more about character and challenges that all kids of any diversity will face in their day to day lives, how they endure that, how they learn from it, how they learn to work together and all those good things that we put into all our shows. 

Lastly, how will this series help children in terms of learning and education?

That goes to my previous point. I think this is a show about a family, their day to day domestic issues that they have around various things in their lives; so the kids will face things that are being faced by kids everywhere. And we’ll have to battle with all those things that the kids are challenged by in everyday life. The main thing here in this show is the importance of co-viewing and experience between parents and kids together as I touched on earlier.

It is a really strong cause of what we tried to do with this show. The unstructured play that they have here with parents and other friends fosters creativity and imagination, leads to free play and teaches kids how to develop their creativity and imagination. It also shows the innocence of young kids to them, to the parents and to our audience.

I also think kids see their parents enjoying this show and think it is great that we can do this together. This is all about family and it makes them feel important at the heart of it all. And we feel that it’s a very important thing to bring out. This is what’s very unique to Bluey!

Bluey is releasing on CBeebies India on 14 June 2021!