After 13 years in the role, actress Harley Bird will no longer be the voice of the titular pig in the popular children’s series Peppa Pig. For children — or slightly crazed fathers — this might be like when a new actor takes over the role of another British icon: James Bond. In other words, this is going to be a big deal (for me) and it might be a really rough transition (for me). Will the new voice of Peppa — Amelie Bea Smith — be a George Lazenby or a Daniel Craig? Let’s hope for the latter.
When I look at my daughter’s Peppa Pig coloring books, or Peppa Pig storybooks, without fail, I will always do the voice. One thing I like about the Peppa Pig franchise is that it’s pretty easy to imitate Peppa’s voice and pig snort, which isn’t’ to say that snort and voice are generic. I’d like to think the true artistic brilliance of Peppa Pig is in the fact that young voice-actor Harley Bird has made such specific choices. I’m not talking about the accent. The accent isn’t the voice. I’m talking about the emphasis Peppa puts on sentences like “So, George isn’t truly sick then, is he mummy?” Or “Miss Rabbit won’t tickle you…George…but I WILL! SNORT SNORT SNORT.” None of these lines are delivered casually. They are delivered with a very specific sense of mayhem wrapped in love.
Peppa’s most iconic line — on par with the line “Bond, James Bond” — is easily the phrase or variations on the phrase “I just looove jumping up and down in muddy puddles.” Here’s an example of how that goes down, if you are somehow unfamiliar.
I’m not saying that another voice actor can’t pull this off, I’m just saying that for me — a man who thinks about this stuff way too hard and has become a crazy person from watching kids’ shows like this — the one and only Peppa Pig will always be the original. Will I notice when new episodes feature the newer voice actor? That sort of depends on whether or not I’ve had a cup of coffee yet, but I often notice when Dad Tiger sounds totally different on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and that lack of continuity unnerves me. So yes, I will probably be pretty freaked out when Peppa’s voice changes.
This isn’t to say that I won’t adjust. I mean, I wasn’t sure about Daniel Craig in 2006 as James Bond, but that turned out pretty good. I mean, as a kid, my favorite Bond was probably Roger Moore, which is somewhat laughable. So, who knows, perhaps my not-quite-3-year-old daughter will become an Amelie Bea Smith Peppa fan, while I will remain sure that Harley Bird is the person who truly created the role.
In any case, Smith will appear in her first new Peppa Pig episode this Valentine’s Day, and you can bet that we’ll be watching. I know that I’m capable of adjusting to a new Peppa, but it won’t be easy. However, I can find solace in one thing. As far as I know, John Sparkes will continue to be the voice of the narrator of Peppa Pig. This guy, with his pseudo-Michael Caine-delivery, is my rock, and the one thing that truly gets me through most Peppa adventures.
Here’s a tip. Next time you do the voice of the narrator on Peppa Pig (seriously, that’s not just me, right? How insane have I become?) Try having tacking on a Michael Caine-ism and see what happens. For example. “Everybody loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles…Not a lot of people know that.”
It will make your day. And, if your kids are paying attention to you, maybe they’ll laugh, too.
New episodes of Peppa Pig start airing on Valentine’s Day.
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