Why I Love Hey Duggee : Changing Perceptions

I was busy watching Hey Duggee with my 4 year old just before school the other morning (as you do) and asking him a whole bunch of annoying mum questions.

‘Why are they called Squirrels when they are clearly not?’

“How come Duggee doesn’t talk but only barks? 

How can the ‘squirrels’ understand him?’

And so on! (In case you are interested, according to my 4 year old, the answers are ‘Mummy, they just are squirrels OK!’ ‘Duggee is a dog, of course he can’t talk!‘ and then a blank stare with regards to the last question!)

If you have not come across it before, Hey Duggee is a programme on CBeebies in which a dog called Duggee runs what appears to be an after school club called The Squirrels.  So far, so pretty normal for a kids programme.  

But this morning I had a bit of a revelation when I was watching it.  In the programme there are a number of different animals who attend the club, ranging from a hyperactive hippo, a sweet-natured rhino, an imaginative octopus and a giggly mouse.  Unsurprisingly, their parents are a hippo, a rhino, an octopus and a mouse.  

Nothing surprising there.

hey dug gee

Image from bbc.co.uk

However, this morning I noticed something I just hadn’t clicked to before.  There is one other creature in the programme – a lovely, happy crocodile – aptly named Happy.  His parents?


Yep, you read that right – elephants.  

It turns out that Happy has been adopted!  When I noticed this, I was firstly mildly shocked mainly because children’s TV doesn’t often challenge perceptions of families, and then I was absolutely delighted!

For my two, it gives them the security to realise that they are not alone in being adopted.  It normalises what the life they are living!  

Well done BBC – what a great idea – and I hope that they will continue to challenge the perceptions and stereotypes of what families look like. This is exactly the type of world I want my children to grow up in – where their norm is just that, normal!

Have you come across any other children’s programmes that challenge the perceptions? We’d love to know so we can take a look!

Featured image credit : BBC/CBeebies


  1. Catie: An Imperfect Mum
    January 30, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    Oh wow! What a brilliant idea. A step in the right direction… Now we need some children with disabilities too. Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT 🌟

    • cherrynewby
      January 30, 2017 / 4:01 pm

      Absolutely!! Wouldn’t that be just brilliant to see everything normalised – it would make the world for our kids a much more tolerant place! x

    • Thomas Langston
      June 29, 2017 / 11:23 am

      In one episode where they meet another group like the squirrels Betty’s’ equivalent character is in a Wheel chair.

      • cherrynewby
        June 29, 2017 / 2:45 pm

        I don’t remember seeing this episode but it’s so fab that they are normalising so many things for our kids isn’t it! I’ll be sad when my are too old to watch it (although I might just then watch it secretly on my own!!) x

  2. January 30, 2017 / 1:00 pm

    My eldest loves Duggee and I think it’s great that the program is teaching her a little something along the way x


    • cherrynewby
      January 30, 2017 / 4:00 pm

      Me too! I’m actually quite smitten with Duggee myself – what a lovely gentle programme! x

  3. January 30, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    We love Hey Duggee too, BBs fave is the hippo. It’s great when a cartoon changes perceptions, and what a great way to do it. I don’t think I ever realised before, thanks for sharing. #EatSleepBlogRT

    • cherrynewby
      January 30, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      I agree – it’s such a great way to do it and just normalises everything! x

  4. January 30, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    How affirming for you and your children. Programmes often 2.2 kids and married parents so great to divert from ‘norm’. Especially as there is no norm really. All the best, Jo #eatsleepblogRT

    • cherrynewby
      January 30, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      It really is! It surprised me by how delighted I was to realise it! x

  5. Becki Parsons
    January 30, 2017 / 5:35 pm

    Yes! I LOVE Duggee! There’s so much diversity in it – I adored the gay crab couple in the Sandcastle episode. And there’s plenty of grown up references in it. Oh and the music! (Can you get tell I like it?)

    • cherrynewby
      January 31, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      I love it too! I hadn’t watched it before this last week but it’s definitely up there as one of my favourite kids programmes at the moment! x

  6. January 30, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    #eatsleepblogrt ohhh I had this revelation too a while back, how lovely and I also love the combo 🙂 here’s to many elephant parents and crocs for kids all over the channels 🙂

    • cherrynewby
      January 31, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      Absolutely – go elephant parents and crocs! Such a fab matching!! x

  7. January 31, 2017 / 12:18 am

    We watch hey duggee all the time and I never even noticed this?! How brilliant of BBC to address this, it makes me love the programme even more! #marvmondays

    • cherrynewby
      January 31, 2017 / 1:37 pm

      Isn’t it brilliant! I hadn’t spotted it either but when I did it was a bit of a ‘oh!!!!’ moment! x

  8. February 1, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    You’re right that’s great! These kid programs are really important for shaping how our kids see the world and what they see as correct, so showing these sort of new norms are a great way for other kids to find different types of families as normal. #MarvMondays

    • cherrynewby
      February 2, 2017 / 8:13 am

      That’s exactly what I thought. I’m really hoping that we start to see more and more of these programmes in the future!

  9. February 2, 2017 / 2:46 pm

    This is a brilliant idea, and I hadn’t cottoned onto that either. It’s great that the BBC are trying to normalise this, so that kids are made aware of it from a young age. Off to watch Hey Dugee now. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • cherrynewby
      February 2, 2017 / 3:32 pm

      I was so delighted when I saw it! It’s also made me so much more aware when I’m watching programmes to see what else is out there! Love a bit of Hey Duggee 🙂 x

  10. February 3, 2017 / 11:33 pm

    We watch Hey Duggee all the time and I cant believe that I’ve never noticed this. I guess in a way thats a great thing itself, but I love knowing now (thanks to this post) that this has been done. I think this is great and a perfect way to introduce the topic of adoption to little ones. Definitely something I am going to look out for the next time its on and maybe even try to talk about it with our little lady 🙂 Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

  11. September 3, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    I rarely watch TV but like the sound of Hey Duggee, i like to see programmes that challenge the usual men in blue girls in pink etc view. People and families come in all different shapes and sizes and should be reflected in kids programmes.

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