Peppa Pig Voice Actress, 18, Steps Down After 13 Years: 'I'll Never Forget My Time on the Show'
The longtime voice actress behind Peppa Pig is saying “cheerio” to the cartoon character.
On Friday, Entertainment One, the Canada-based production company that creates the popular children’s series, announced that 18-year-old Harley Bird would be stepping down from playing the titular pig — a role to which she’s lent her vocal talents for the past 13 years.
Since the show’s premiere in 2004, Peppa has been brought to life by multiple English-speaking voice stars, including Lily Snowden-Fine and Cecily Bloom. Bird joined in 2007 and can be heard in 185 episodes.
“Becoming the voice of Peppa Pig at the age of 5 was the start of an incredible journey and I’ll never forget my time on the show,” Bird said in a statement. “The people that work on Peppa Pig have become like a family to me and they’ve given me some unforgettable memories. I … am looking forward to starting the next chapter in my life.”
Bird — who won a BAFTA Award in 2011 for best children’s performer for her work on the show — will be replaced by Amelie Bea Smith, 9, beginning with new episodes in February, eOne said in a statement.
“We’re delighted to welcome Amelie to the Peppa Pig voice cast and [we’re] confident that she will continue the strong legacy of the previous Peppa voice actors,” said co-creators Neville Astley and Mark Baker in a statement. “… As our longest standing Peppa, Harley’s award-winning contribution to the show over the past 13 years has been tremendous, making her a key part of the success of Peppa Pig.”
A rep for Smith said that the new lead is a “huge fan” of Peppa Pig, and that taking on the Pig gig is “a dream come true.” Smith’s debut will be on the show’s Valentine’s Day episode.
Peppa Pig is available in more than 180 territories, broadcast in over 40 languages worldwide. According to eOne, former stars Snowden-Fine, 22, and Bloom, 20, are painters and medical students, respectively.
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Bird’s speaking voice was so well-known among her young fan base that some American parents had reported their toddlers spontaneously taking on a British accent.
On social media last year, confused moms and dads were citing the “#PeppaEffect,” claiming their non-British little ones had developed the accents from watching Peppa Pig.
“I just read an article about American parents saying that their children are developing a British accent because they’re watching Peppa Pig. I just have to say that it’s true. J still has her accent sometimes with certain words & I honestly love it. Lol,” wrote one Twitter user at the time.
“It’s so true this #PeppaEffect,” another tweeted. “I have [been] trying to teach my daughter hindi. She is 4yrs old. But she still is not able to make sentences in hindi but can speak English very well in British accent.”
New episodes of Peppa Pig begin airing on Nick Jr. starting Feb. 14. Check your local listings.