Bluey blockbuster: The real reason the biggest little show on Earth just got bigger

ABC Kids

Some might say AC/DC, Kylie Minogue and Neighbours count among our biggest cultural exports, with special mentions for Mad Max, The Wiggles and Barry Humphries.

They may well be, but a new kid on the block – the Australian-made children’s TV series, Bluey – just might exceed all expectations with the world premiere of a 28-minute special Bluey episode, The Sign, to premiere next month.

Since its launch in 2018, the beloved ABC animated children’s series has become a gift for children and parents alike, becoming the No.1 kids show on Australian broadcast television and the most-watched series ever on ABC’s streaming platform, iview.

Created by Joe Brumm [and produced by Queensland-based company Ludo Studio], the show has won domestic and international industry awards in the children’s TV categories including two Logies, and even had an adult choose Bluey as their Hard Quiz subject.

Now the show, which follows a family of Australian Blue Heelers [Bandit, Chilli and their daughters Bluey, 6, and Bingo, 4] is entering uncharted waters, with a blockbuster episode four times longer than the seven-minute sessions we’ve come to love.

And the icing on the cake is that, according to the ABC, “celebrities across the globe want to be a part of the Bluey world” as the episode is “jam-packed with voice talent”.

Making their Bluey voice debut, the episode features Rove McManus, Deborah Mailman (Total Control), Brendan Williams, Joel Edgerton (The Boys in the Boat, The Stranger) and Rose Byrne (Physical) as Brandy.

Storyline not yet revealed … but it will be ‘pure joy’

The series streams to US and global audiences (outside of Australia, New Zealand and China) across the Disney channels.

In 2023, Bluey was the second-most-streamed TV show in the US, according to Nielsen ratings and even got a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

The Sign‘s storyline is unknown, but a lead-in episode will give fans will a new regular-length episode called Ghostbasket (premiering April 7).

There has been a video game launched on Xbox and some are wondering whether this is a sign of even bigger things to come.

First look at Ghostbasket. Photo: ABC

‘Unambiguously Australian’

One research project on The Conversation, titled Australian Children’s Television Cultures, conducted a survey that examined how audiences interacted with Australian children’s programming.

Of the 700 adult respondents, Bluey was the show they were most excited to watch with their children.

“Respondents celebrated its unambiguously Australian setting, irreverent humour, and family-orientated themes at a time when other children’s content, such as the dead-eyed nursery rhymes of YouTube channel Cocomelon, seem to only offer generic, computer-generated distractions.

“Indeed, many adults without children said they watch Bluey,” it wrote.

One Bluey respondent said the show was “representative of an idealised Australian ethos – relaxed, curious, and hard working”.

“It’s nice for children to see familiar landmarks and have issues that are current to them, as opposed to Peppa Pig and needing to explain why we don’t have snow at Christmas,” said another parent.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s leading child-development experts, University of Wollongong Professor Marc de Rosnay, said the show was a great one for first-time parents.

“Art is often more salient, accessible and powerful than science. And I consider Bluey a kind of art,” he said.

“It expresses something and demands something of the viewer that 1000 developmental psychology or parenting books would struggle to do as well.

“I’m deeply indebted to [Joe Brumm] for creating it because if I were meeting a young couple today and they asked me for parenting advice, I would tell them to watch Bluey.”

The Bluey episode, The Sign, will air on April 14 at 8am on ABC Kids and ABC iview before becoming available globally

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