July 17, 2024

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How Australia’s ‘Bluey’ conquered children’s entertainment

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Australia’s men’s cricket team won the World Test Championship Final against India at Lords in June. But that success was eclipsed by an animated match played by dogs with plastic bats and a tennis ball.

The test final coincided with the launch of the Bluey episode “Cricket”, in which a kelpie puppy called Rusty upstages the increasingly bemused adult dog characters with his batting prowess.

International cricket has reliably attracted huge television audiences in Australia for decades. But Bluey’s match attracted 563,000 viewers compared to the peak audience of 524,000 for a real game that Australia was winning.

The meteoric rise of Bluey — a cheerfully idiosyncratic 2D animated series about a suburban family of blue heelers, or cattle dogs, in Brisbane — has surprised many in the animation industry. It has become a global hit in a competitive genre largely dominated by comic book franchises and high-end computer generated imagery.

The director of ‘Bluey’s’ cricket episode, Richard Jeffrey, says: “Little moments like [the catch], when you get them right, they really hit you’ © Disney+

The antics of the Heeler family — which range from psychedelic episodes about dreams to courtroom-style dramas over accusations of flatulence — were first aired in Australia in 2018. The show has since been exported to 60 countries, including the UK and China.

It soon became the number one rated show on the BBC children’s channel CBeebies. In the US, where it is streamed on Disney+, it was the most streamed show of any genre in early December, accounting for 918mn minutes of viewing in one week, according to rating agency Nielsen.

For a country best known for low-grade soap operas, which relies on exports of commodities like iron ore, red meat and coal for its economic resilience, the global success of the cartoon is a “source of national pride”, says Jim Chalmers, Australia’s treasurer.

“For generations of people right around the world, Bluey

2023-12-31 23:00:53

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