Friday, August 12, 2022

Richard Ridings Talks Peppa Pig's Phenomenal Rise, Muddy Puddles, and More

The world of Peppa Pig has become a television mainstay since it first premiered, and a big part of the show's charm is found in the delightful family at the show's center. That family includes Peppa, George, Mummy Pig, and Daddy Pig, and children all around the world love watching their fun adventures and all the hijinks that ensue. A host of amazing performers bring those characters to life, including Richard Ridings, who has been the voice of Daddy Pig since the very beginning of the show.

(Photo: Hasbro/eOne)'s Matthew Aguilar recently had the chance to speak to Ridings all about the show, including why it's remained so popular, what he loves most about working on the show, and more!

Ridings has worked on a host of different projects, and while he loved the show when he first joined the project, he didn't see it becoming the worldwide phenomenon it's clearly become.

"I don't think anybody could see anything going in a worldwide... other than Barbie. My first thought was I don't care whether this is a success or not in the UK. I just loved it. I just wanted to be part of this. I loved the team, Phil [Hall], Nev [Astley] and Mark [Baker]. I thought they were creating something really beautiful. At the time, I had a young family as well. I think my daughter was... She'd be about eight or nine, but we had a two-year-old son around about that time as well. I just thought, 'Well, this is beautiful really.' I think maybe that's one of the reasons Phil asked me to come in and have a look and have a test," Ridings said.

Ridings met Phil at a battle of the bands his daughter was playing in, and that's where he learned about a project in the works that would turn out to be Peppa Pig.

"He said, 'Oh yeah, we've got this thing we're developing.' He was lovely. He was saying they were having problems with the BBC. The BBC had done their previous project, but for some reason were dragging their heels on Peppa. I thought, 'I think they're mad because I think this is really lovely.' It's about families. It's funny and it's warm. It's learning about life. It had all those wonderful things in right from the start. They're rolling around laughing. They're jumping in muddy puddles," Ridings said.

Soon it became clear that the show was becoming a hit and finding an audience, and every time Ridings spoke to the team they were adding people to deliver the show to new territories.

"Phil couldn't prophesy it being such a worldwide phenomenon. I remember Phil kept ringing me up and he'd go, 'My company sold it to another five territories.' It was like, 'Well, this is crazy. We're having to employ people to re-voice it or we're having to employ them to type subtitles in for China.' It's great. It's been lovely, but I think also it's testament to the power of the scripts," Ridings said. "Somebody was asking me earlier actually why is it is so popular. I think if you're raising your family, you've got so much raw material there about the family that is trying... a mummy and a daddy who are trying to teach their children about the world and saying it can be fun as well."

The show also explores how parents aren't 100% sure of everything either, and why that's okay and how to handle it. "Also, if you're watching Daddy Pig, it's all right to fail and fall flat on your face because you just have a laugh, but the most important thing is to have a go. I think that's all it is," Ridings said. "Early on, he'd sort of say, 'I'm a bit of an expert at this. Watch this,' and then fall flat on his face, which of course is a well-known comic trope, but more importantly, Matt, I think it's this idea of can do, have a go. Have a crack even if you're not successful the first time. He's huge. He's very comforting. He has a very comforting and kindly presence in their lives."

Ridings has several favorite episodes over the course of the show, though one of them does involve a Peppa staple, the muddy puddle.

"I've got so many, but one that sticks in my mind is when he has to go and retake his World Muddy Puddle Jumping Record and he gets into training, a bit like Mr. Incredible of the Incredibles," Ridings said. "You have this scene, where he goes all zen-like. He says, 'You have to become one with the puddle.' I'm thinking, 'This is for preschool children. It's absolutely brilliant.' The fact that you can go there is wonderful."

"They're so creative. Another favorite as well, there's a music festival. Suzy Sheep's family are glamping. They've got this fantastic... got a yurt with rugs and a jacuzzi or whatever. Peppa's going, 'Oh yeah, have we got one of these, Daddy?' 'No, no, we're doing it traditionally.' Got this tiny little tent. Then it pours with rain and they're all at the music festival, but then they put their wellies on and it leads to the most huge jumping in muddy puddles. The way they tie it in is brilliant. I think the scripts are just wonderful, just wonderful. It's a lovely thing to be part of and I suppose be at the center of as well," Ridings said.

Peppa Pig is as popular as ever, and live-action versions always seem to be popping up, so would he be up for it?

"Funnily enough, actually, I've got a friend who runs a theater company. I think they do a Peppa Pig show, a theater show, where people get dressed up in costume," Ridings said. "Not for me I must hasten to add. I'm happier doing the animation and going to the studio and recording the scripts there, but yes, I think it's been very successful, very popular. Now, we have a Peppa Pig park I believe, which I've not been to yet, down on the South Coast somewhere, where people can go round like a little fairground. You can see pizza stuck to the ceiling. We did some voiceovers for that as well," Ridings said.

You can watch episodes of Peppa Pig on Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and on the official website right here!

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