Are you hooked on Peppa Pig? The show seems simple and childish on the surface but, like a rainbow cake, contains more richness, colour, secrets and layers the deeper you dig.
Watch it for long enough and you start to ask yourself all kinds of questions about the characters and the world they inhabit.
So many questions.
How does Miss Rabbit hold down all her jobs? Why, after 20 years of adventures, are Peppa and George still preschoolers? Why does everyone live on a hill? How come everybody's eyes are on one side of the face? And did you ever wonder what Daddy Pig and Mummy Pig were called before having a child? So, so, so many questions.
And here are a few more...
Is Madame Gazelle A Vampire?
Something very peculiar is suggested in the Halloween episode Pumpkin Party. Here's Madame Gazelle chatting to Suzy Sheep. Suzy's dressed as a vampire. Madame Gazelle says this "Brings back memories of the old country," as though she had experience with the undead in earlier days. You assume it's a throwaway line until you notice what's going on in the mirror.
It's no one-off gag either. The pedagogical antelope is seemingly ageless. We know from flashback episodes that she also taught the previous generation, including Peppa's parents. No noticeable ageing is evident between the timeframes -- another hallmark of a vampire.
The Tower Bridge Bus Jump: Have I Seen That Somewhere Before?
The episode Peppa Pig in London sees the titular pig and friends boarding a double-decker for a tour of the capital. The bus driver is none other than HM The Queen, who is apparently a friend of Miss Rabbit. Her Majesty ably guides the bus around town before reaching Tower Bridge. Here, she floors the pedal and launches the bus into the air off one of the rising bascules. She lands the jump, then continues with the tour.
If the scene seems familiar, its because the idea of leaping Tower Bridge is not a new one. John Wayne did something similar in the 1975 film Brannigan. In 2009, Robbie Maddison more-than-minded the gap on a motorbike, complete with backflip. And a double-decker really did leap the bridge in 1952. Driver Albert Gunter realised that his bus had reached the point of no return on a rising Tower Bridge. Hitting the brakes might have been disastrous, so he instead accelerated and successfully launched his vehicle over the widening gap. He reportedly got a £10 bonus for his quick thinking.
Another, very geeky detail in this scene sees the emblem of the Bridge House Estates carved onto the stonework. This organisation looks after the bridge in real life, and its logo is indeed present on Tower Bridge.
Was That Jurassic Park?
Any episode featuring Grampy Rabbit is a winner, thanks to the significant vocal talents of Brian Blessed. Grampy Rabbit's Dinosaur Park episode has an added reason to watch. As Miss Rabbit drives the bus into the theme park in the opening minute, look out for the sign hanging over the gates. It looks very similar to the Jurassic Park logo, albeit with a T-Rex styled like George's toy dinosaur. The elderly Grampy Rabbit, then, can be thought of as an analogue of Richard Attenborough's character in Jurassic Park, John Hammond.
(In a further twist, Brian Blessed and Richard Attenborough have shared the screen in only one movie, the 1996 adaptation of Hamlet. It's only a short bit of wordplay to get from Hamlet to pigs... but perhaps I'm over-analysing this.)
Why Do Some Animals Talk, While Others Are Just... Animals?
Besides its anthropomorphic characters, Peppa Pig also features plenty of animals who do not seem to be blessed with higher intelligence. Tiddles the tortoise, Mrs Duck and family, Goldie the goldfish, Mr Skinnylegs the spider... all behave just as animals should (except for Tiddles, who likes climbing trees for some reason). Meanwhile, all the talking animals are mammals -- pigs, donkeys, cats, dogs, zebras, elephants, etc. etc. It's as though, in Peppa's universe, evolution took a different turn, with the emergence of human-level intelligence at an earlier point in time before the mammals diversified. (I'm over-analysing again, aren't I?)
There is one curious exception. In the Season 5 episode The Zoo, we encounter an intelligent crocodile called, predictably, Mrs Crocodile. Why this reptile, alone among her kind, should be blessed with the power of speech I have no idea, but at least she's voiced by the brilliant Jo Brand.
Let's not get on to Mr Potato and the anthropomorphic vegetables. They're just weird.
Can You Name The Only Two Humans To Feature As Animated Characters?
While we're on the topic of odd-ones-out, here's another poser -- can you name the only two humans to appear in the show? The first answer has already been given. Her Majesty the Queen has appeared in two episodes. Sadly, the monarch was unavailable to lend her own talents, so the versatile Morwenna Banks (Mummy Pig and many others) stepped in. The second human is Father Christmas (if Santa is indeed human... note to self; must look into). Mr Cringle has dropped by in a number of Christmas-themed episodes.
Which Country Banned An Episode Of Peppa Pig, And Why?
It's seems bizarre that something as child-friendly and cheerful as Peppa Pig might be on somebody's forbidden list, but the show has made its enemies over the years. One common grumble is how Dr Brown Bear's time is taken up on the most trivial of ailments (reportedly leading to a rise in unnecessary doctor's appointments from over-cautious parents). Others have argued that the show is full of disrespect, with Peppa in particular shaming her relatives at every opportunity.
The episode that caused most trouble, however, was early favourite Mr Skinnylegs. The show tells the tale of a spider who takes up residence in Peppa's home. After a nervous start, Peppa befriends the spider and is seen holding it. The episode caused problems in Australia, where children are taught to avoid spiders, many of which are venomous. To this day, Mr Skinnylegs is not shown in the country.
Remember The Time Peppa Pig Got All Geopolitical?
The episode International Day has a uniquely satirical flavour for grown-ups. It opens with the children at playgroup, dressed as the countries of the world. Madame Gazelle leads her class in a rousing rendition of "Peace and harmony, in all the world". Peace and harmony soon break down. The children squabble over resources and territory (notably, a sand pit). International relations sour, and all-out war is brewing. "Enough! Is this how you think the counties of the world behave?", deadpans Madame Gazelle. It's a thinly veiled commentary on geopolitics, especially when the narrator observes that "The United Kingdom is on the slide".
Why Is George Pig The Only Child Whose Name Is Not Alliterative?
Peppa Pig, Danny Dog, Zoe Zebra, Delphine Donkey... all the children in the show are alliterative. The writers even make fun of the fact. When Miss Rabbit is expecting a new baby, Pedro suggests it should be called Michael Rabbit -- and is greeted with silence. The only major exception is George Pig. Why he's not called Peter, or Paul, or Piers, or Pat is never explained. In truth, there are other minor characters who also break the rule. Peppa and George have porcine cousins called Chloe and Alexander, as well as a separate aunt called Dottie. Meanwhile, in Australia, the youngest member of the Kangaroo family is called Joey.
Meet Peppa And Friends At Paultons Park
Paultons Park near Southampton is home to Peppa Pig World -- a theme park inspired by the popular show. It's a great day out, or mini-break for families with small children.
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