With Father's Day fast approaching on Sunday 16th June, we talked to Rich Ridings, the voice of lovable Daddy Pig about what it's like to have such a recognisable voice, and Daddy Pig's help with the Father's Day reading initiative

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How did you get the role of playing Daddy Pig?

Phil Davis, one of the creators of Peppa Pig, has a daughter and she was playing drums with a friend of my daughter and I just happened to pop by. I was just about to fly off and do a film and Phil asked if I'd record my voice and it took off from there.

Did you think Peppa Pig would be such a success when you first started recording the voice of Daddy Pig?

The stories are so gentle and there is a lovely sense of security in Peppa's house. It's all very honest and that really appealed to me. I think that is what appeals to children and parents alike. Simple honest stories. I am delighted by how successful it has become. It really has become quite a phenomenon.

Do you have children yourself?

I have a 19-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, but when I started doing the voice of Daddy Pig, my son was 4 so it was perfect timing for him. He really loved it. We used to watch a lot of the episodes back then.

Do you ever go off script? How much of your own personality is in Daddy Pig?

I do stick exactly to the script. The style of Peppa Pig is that it is recorded separately so sometimes I'm just recording my own bits alone. In fact the first series was recorded in ONE day! The beauty of the creators and writers Phil Davis, Neville Astley and Mark Baker is that they have caught the essence of the character really well. Daddy Pig has echoes of many Dads you know in the UK.

What is your favourite Peppa Pig episode?

I love the episode where Daddy Pig has to get into training as he's lost his muddy puddle record. He says a chant over and over again 'I have to be at one with the puddle'. You can feel the pressure Daddy Pig has to go through. It's brilliant. There is also one I love where Daddy Pig does a fun run but he ends up being the only one whose doing it. He ends up getting chased by a wasp as he runs round.

Do people recognise your voice as the voice of Daddy Pig?

It's quite funny. When I'm out and about I often get children saying 'mummy mummy' and pointing to me because my voice is so familiar to them. I think many people can't quite place where they've heard my voice but it sounds so familiar. Sometimes mums will come and ask me 'are you the voice of Daddy Pig!’ I'm often asked to do Peppa Pig readings at bookstores and I think children can be quite disappointed as they turn up expecting to see Daddy Pig (I won't go as far as dressing up in the costume!) and they can hear my voice but I don't look like Daddy Pig. I almost think it somewhat spoils the magic.

Daddy Pig is supporting the Ladybird 'Read with Daddy Pig' reading initiative, to encourage dads to read with their children. What are your thoughts on dads reading to kids?

I think it's great that this initiative is aimed at dads specifically as the truth is they probably don't read to their children enough. Dads do need to get more involved as the figures aren't great. Mums do a lot of the bedtime reading, and of course this is probably due to the hours we work in this nation and the incredible pressures put on us. Research from the Father's Institute in Pittsburgh suggests that when dads read to their children it increases their literacy ability, their IQ goes up and they get better SAT's and GCSE's- especially among boys, it's phenomenal. Positive engagement with dad’s equal positive results.

Did you read to your kids when they were growing up?

We actually home schooled our children so we really did. Books can stimulate a great deal of imagination. You can almost participate in an imaginary world through storytelling. There is huge security and wellbeing of a child through books and fairy tales. You can be in the safety of your own bedroom with mum and dads voices lulling you to sleep with storytelling. It gives emotional strength to a child I think.

Has having such a recognisable voice of a particular character hindered your other acting work at all?

Not at all. I really do all kinds of work. I've started working with Andy Serkis, the voice and creator of Gollum from Lord of the Rings in pupeteering and computer animation, and also a new children's series called Q Pootle 5, a beautiful animation about young space creatures. Being the voice of Daddy Pig is a lovely thing to be known for. Peppa Pig holds a real magic over children. There is a re-assuring sanity and peacefulness to it all. In fact my own mum used to watch Peppa Pig for a bit of peace and tranquillity... a cup of tea, and Peppa, and some ginger biscuits...

 

Rich Ridings was chatting to Nishan Brown

Richard Ridings is supporting the Read with Daddy Pig reading initiative for Dads this Father's Day in partnership with Ladybird Books. Daddy Pig reading assets, including Top Tips, activity sheets, certificate and bookmark, are available to download free from www.ladybird.com/peppapig.The first line of Daddy Pig products goes on sale exclusively at Asda stores nationwide 3rd-17th June in time for Father's Day.

Check out Daddy Pig's game for the iPad and iPhone!

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