If you think you’re too old for Hey Duggee, you’re wrong. Whereas some kids’ TV shows are very obviously made for young audiences, animator Grant Orchard created Hey Duggee as a ‘family show’ which can be enjoyed by the parents as well, inspired by the likes of The Muppets and The Flintstones. This becomes obvious the more you watch, with proper laugh-out-loud moments for adults like the frog announcing it’s going on a ‘gap yah’ and Roly the hippo being asked to choose his superhero name and plumping with miscalculated enthusiasm for ‘STEPHEN!’
So it’s unsurprising to spot countless clever grownup references to classic TV and films dotted throughout Hey Duggee’s four series, from the subtle to the downright uncanny. In fact, it becomes rather addictive to look out for them, so we’ve listed a few of the best ones here:
Apocalypse Now and The African Queen (The River Badge)
In The River Badge, the Squirrels help Duggee deliver a package at the other end of the river, travelling by boat. Fans of Apocalypse Now will easily spot several direct references to the film, including Duggee emerging from the river like Willard on the way to kill Kurtz, approaching an abandoned temple, the spacey 1970s music and even Chew Chew the panda saying ‘The biscuits, the biscuits!’ in the style of ‘The horror, the horror!’
This Reddit user does a nice job of showing stills from both Duggee and Apocalypse Now side by side to show just how much attention to detail there is.
Somehow, in the same episode, they also pack in a reference to The African Queen, with Duggee wearing an identical outfit to Humphrey Bogart, complete with stubble.
Cagney and Lacey (The Detective Badge)
In The Detective Badge, the Squirrels have to help Duggee find out who stole his apple pie. The montage of them interviewing witnesses, using police tape to secure the scene and searching for clues plays out with a theme tune that fans of a certain 1980s crime-fighting duo might find familiar…
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (The Shape Badge)
In The Shape Badge, the Squirrels are playing a shape game, but then have to put their newfound shape knowledge to good use and find places to protect differently-shaped animals from the rain. Roly has to choose where to put a ladybird and, in a tense scene with a very Indiana Jones-esque soundtrack, he makes his choice. Like the knight at the end of The Last Crusade, the ladybird tells Roly, ‘You have chosen wisely.’
Scooby Doo (The Spooky Badge)
Series 2 episode The Spooky Badge is essentially one giant homage to Scooby Doo – the Squirrels are wearing the characters’ costumes, right down to Velma’s glasses and Fred’s neckerchief, and hunt down a comically ‘spooky’ ghost:
They eventually realise it’s not a ghost after all and pull off the white sheet to reveal a sheep underneath, and clever Velma explains with flashbacks how the sheep pulled off its ghostly trickery. Genuinely a joy to watch.
Lord of the Rings (The Dressing Up Badge)
In The Dressing Up Badge, it’s Enid the cat’s birthday, so the Squirrels all decide to dress up to celebrate. In one of the more understated movie references, Tino the Artistic Mouse is dressed as a wizard, complete with Gandalf staff, which he stamps firmly into the ground as he tells the squirrels ‘You shall not pass… until you have solved my riddle!’
West Side Story (The Theatre Badge)
In The Theatre Badge, the Squirrels help a pair of warring directors (Tino the mouse and Eugene the squirrel) who can’t decide what kind of play to put on. They turn the directors’ disagreement into the theme of the show, where two star-crossed lovers are forbidden from being together, but then become united by dance, with some very similar moves to the Jets and the Sharks (think aggressive finger clicking and exaggerated walking in gangs).
Stranger Things (The Cheese Badge)
Fans of Stranger Things will certainly recognise similarities to The Upside Down in The Cheese Badge, where Roly escapes with a particularly smelly blue cheese, causing the squirrels to don hazmat suits to protect themselves from the ‘toxic’ atmosphere. The eerie blue mist and particles is an added touch of brilliance.
Back to the Future (The Future Badge)
The entire premise of The Future Badge episode is a wonderful nod to the iconic Back to the Future: Duggee takes the Squirrels forward in time to explore what the future holds. And Tag the Rhino sports a very similar outfit to Marty McFly’s red jacket, jeans and tie-dye baseball cap.
The Simpsons (The Hair Badge)
A very subtle nod here – when trying out various different hairstyles in The Hair Badge, Duggee sports a Homer Simpson look, compounding the reference by saying ‘D’oh!’
Top Gun (The Honey Badge)
The Honey Badge sees some imperilled bees who can’t deliver their nectar to the hive because the Squirrels’ toys are blocking their ‘runway.’ In a nod to Top Gun, we see a squadron of bees flying in to land and, ignoring the Captain’s warnings, the rebellious Maverick tries to land anyway. He almost makes it, but not quite…
Game of Thrones (The Library Badge)
In the most recent series of Hey Duggee, the Library Badge episode sees the Squirrels help set up a mobile library. This includes dishing out several books in the ‘Hot & Cold Dragons’ series, one of which is called ‘Hot Air, Cold Snow’ in a nod to A Song of Ice and Fire.
The Telenovela (The Omelette Badge)
When Duggee needs eggs for his omelette in The Omelette Badge, the Squirrels discover the chickens haven’t been laying because they’re ‘eating too much junk food’. The show cuts to the chickens lined up on the sofa munching popcorn while watching a classic telenovela, complete with dashing Spanish-speaking doctor and a besotted nurse dramatically exclaiming ‘Oh, Antonio!’ This episode also features a ridiculously catchy exercise song, if you fancy a dance.
What are your favourite references in Hey Duggee? Tell us in the comments! And catch up on all series of Hey Duggee on BBC iPlayer