Christmas is only a few days away, and you undoubtedly have about one million things left on your to-do list: bake, tidy up, do a little last-minute shopping, wrap gifts, re-wrap the gifts your kids tried to get a peek of without you noticing... So you need a few minutes to focus — or, at the very least, a distraction.
Happily, Nick Jr. is coming through with just that. As part of their holiday "Peppa-sodes," the network will premiere new episodes of Peppa Pig on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday leading up to Christmas.
The world first met Peppa Pig, a cheeky little British piglet who lives with her younger brother George and their parents, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, back in 2004. The beloved preschool show has now been translated into over 40 languages and broadcast in over 180 territories.
Kids are so fanatical about it, in fact, that social media is full of examples of "The Peppa Pig effect" — a phenomenon by which children in the United States have begun speaking with a British accent like their favorite fictional porcine family.
But moms are fanatical about it, too, and not just for the quiet it elicits from their kids. To many of us, Mummy Pig is the pinnacle of cartoon parenting: She's kind, she's funny (albeit often unintentionally), she gives excellent advice, and she's always happy to help the children in the series.
Plus, she's a good sport with Daddy Pig, who, let's face it, is sometimes a bigger kid than Peppa or George.
In the world of fictional characters, she's a giant (and not just because of those rumors about the family's height). It's been a surprising turn of fate for Morwenna Banks, the actor who's been voicing Mummy since the show's start.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Banks recently, and caught up with her about all things Mommy Pig. Turns out, Banks was just as surprised as the rest of us that her character has become a cartoon icon.
Banks couldn't deny that the character was charming and the writing clever. But how, she wondered, could this work? "A pig in a dress, it's kind of interesting," she says. "They were always beautiful and always funny, but I just could not have predicted it … not at all. And then, when I saw the early [episodes], I was astonished. Not because it wasn't brilliant, but almost because it was."
Still, the show experienced several rejections before Channel 5, a smaller network, decided to take a chance on Peppa. The rest, as they say, is history.
"I've done a lot of children's animation, but this particular one, as it's grown and evolved, it's always kept its integrity," she says. "Now, looking back, I can really see what was so special about it. But at the time, I was just like, 'Oh, I hope it works. I really hope it works.'" It's been nearly two decades since those early days, and Banks — much like kids everywhere — can't imagine a world without Mummy Pig in it.
"Oh, don't say that. Don't say that! I can't imagine the day," she chides us when we mention the inevitable possibility that, one day, Mummy Pig will have to hang up her orange dress for good.
Like many of us, Banks has seen her own kids grow from Peppa-loving preschoolers to practically becoming adults in the time the series has been on the air. "It's always been there," she notes nostalgically, rattling off its redeeming qualities: "The fact that it's not patronizing, doesn't preach. Adults and kids find it funny. It has a very broad appeal whilst being quite specific. The genius is all there."
Banks has even picked up a little parenting inspiration of her own along the way.
"Well, number one, she's got better dress sense than me," she says of her character. "And I love Mummy Pig's parenting style because she and Daddy Pig are a real team, and yet they're funny. They're funny with the kids, as in amusing. They're always up for an adventure."
So, if you ask her, Banks would likely say that Peppa Pig deserves to be around another decade or two: "Long may it last. I'm choosing to be optimistic, really."
For the moment, she just hopes that this week's festive episodes bring smiles to the faces of parents and kids alike. "I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and really hope they enjoy [the holiday episodes] … I'm always so pleased and proud when I go into the recording booth, read the script, and think, This is so much fun. I really hope that people have as much fun watching it as I have doing it."
Don't miss Peppa's special holiday episodes "The Apple Tree," Dec. 20, "The Big Hill Bug Hotel," Dec. 21, and "Grandpa Pig's Greenhouse," Dec. 23, all airing at 7 p.m. ET on Nick Jr.