It single-handedly redefined children’s animation the world over, but Bluey – the iconic Australian cartoon about a family of happy heeled dogs – may well be on the verge of a very sudden end.
Sources close to the show’s Brisbane production center say the series could be “finished” in the coming months due to one major factor: the voice of the young actor behind Bluey is changing.
The actor, whose identity has been kept secret to protect his privacy, is among the production team’s friends and family.
But after four years and 130 episodes, the young actor’s voice has naturally matured, leaving producers with the choice of recasting the role or – more drastically – ending the series, insiders say.
Bluey is streaming on Disney+ in 33 countries including the US, UK, China, France and Germany
As of 2018, Bluey became the most successful children’s show since The Wiggles and was hailed as one of the best sitcoms of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Bluey’s producers are currently wrapping up the final 26 episodes of the show’s third season – and beyond that, sources say it’s unlikely there will be a season four.
However, it is understood that the show will continue in live theatrical performances.
“It was one of the hardest and most heartbreaking decisions the producers have had to make,” said an insider at Bluey’s Ludo production studio in Brisbane.
“The show is obviously so profitable. But his legacy is also seen as more important than anything else, so the idea is to “go out in style.”
A spokesperson for Bluey’s distributor at the BBC in the UK declined to confirm that the show’s third season would be its last.
“At the moment Ludo is hard at work on Series 3, which we are excited to bring to the public this year,” they told Daily Mail Australia.
“We’re very excited about the future of Bluey, which is now a massive global hit, and there’s certainly plenty more to come.”
Ludo later issued a statement to Daily Mail Australia saying that rumors of the cartoon being canned were “inaccurate”.
“We love Bluey and there are no plans to end the series. We always finish a season before planning the next one and right now we’re halfway through series three and really excited for the future. – we can’t wait to share new episodes.
Dave McCormack, former lead singer of Custard, collecting the AAACTA Award for Best Children’s Programming
A number of popular children’s shows have made high-profile redesign decisions over the years, including UK preschool hit Bing! who replaced the two leads between seasons one and two.
The producer of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood spoke about the challenges of casting children in voice roles in 2019, saying Daniel’s lead role was regularly changed on the popular American series.
“The show has been on the air for six years, so we had to recast,” Chris Loggins told The Not-The-Mama Dad blog, confirming that they used three actors over four years.
Bluey series producer and creator Joe Brumm is rumored to be against the idea of recasting out of “respect” for the original voice actor who played such an important and distinctive role in the show’s mammoth success.
Bluey’s little sister, Bingo, is also voiced by one of the kids on the show’s production team and also remained unnamed.
Other prominent vocals for Dad Bandit and Mum Chilli were provided by former Custard lead singer David McCormack and actress Melanie Zanetti, respectively.
Actress Melanie Zanetti performs the role of Chilli – mom of Bluey and Bingo
Launching in 2018 on ABC in Australia, Bluey was quickly praised for its refreshing characters, particularly Bandit as a capable and shrewd dad, as opposed to an awkward background character common in children’s programming.
It also received rave reviews from critics and parents applauding its good-natured naturalism and riffs on modern parenting.
One of the few kids’ shows enjoyed equally by parents and kids, the show would go on to win a string of awards around the world, including a Kids Emmy in 2019 for its late-night routine episode “Sleepytime” and Best Animated Series at the Critics Choice Awards 2021.
Creator and writer Bluey Joe Brumm (R) with producer Charlie Aspinwall won Best Children’s Program at the Logies 2019
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman lent her voice to a third season episode of Bluey where she narrated a documentary about whales on the show
Bluey and her little sister Bingo are voiced by one of the kids on the show’s production team
In a list published by the American magazine Rolling Stone of the 100 greatest sitcoms of all time, Bluey was listed at 96, being the only Australian series to be featured.
It remains the most downloaded show in ABC history.
The show also spawned a multi-million dollar merchandise industry through licensing deals with Target, Big W, Target, Kmart, Catch, Peter Alexander, and Bonds.
The series will also live on for years through lucrative reruns and licensing deals as well as live shows, with a major US tour scheduled for later this year.