Top Dog: The ten best episodes of Hey Duggee

From jelly belly dancers to raving sticks, the ten episodes that made Duggee the nation's favourite dog

There are many wonderful things about Hey Duggee. The pleasingly geometric animation, the charming eccentricities, the unshowy normalisation of everything from same sex relationships to adoption, the subtle pop culture nods… the list is long and grows longer with each new season. It’s a testament to its creators that they find such wondrous dexterity within each seven-minute episode.

As the equally wonderful stage adaptation heads out on its UK tour, we look at the ten best episodes of Hey Duggee that have enshrined its place as the nation’s finest animated series.

The Breakfast Badge

The Breakfast Badge finds Tag running low on energy, patience and cohesion after skipping breakfast. Too tired to even tell Duggee what he wants to eat, he’s treated to a speedy run through of all the options from the show’s eclectic supporting cast. Highlights include Hatsu the poodle’s ever-increasing breakfast feast and Nigel and John Crab’s international breakfast. “Arepas Nigel, arepas!”

The Breakfast Badge 🍳 | Hey Duggee

The Caterpillar Badge

Hey Duggee is more about gently plucking at heartstrings instead of the outright emotional onslaught of some kids’ entertainment. No episode sums this up as deftly as Tag’s friendship with a VERY hungry caterpillar, who devours much of the gang’s leaf-based harvest and behaves like a cross between a puppy, a pony and a mogwai. There’s a very specific tone to Alexander Armstrong’s delivery at the end that is just lovely.

The Duck Badge

Hey Duggee’s sound design is unrivalled. The Squirrels are enjoying a rainy day (splash!) when a duckling decides to adopt Norrie as its mum. I can’t quite explain why the constant quacking is so funny. It just is.

The Duck Badge | Hey Duggee | CBeebies

The Tadpole Badge

This season one episode is the one where it became clear that Hey Duggee was operating above and beyond most other kids’ shows. The whole episode seems designed as a build up to the point where the tadpoles mature. “I’m going to work in the city!” is never not funny. Whoever decided that frogs are just triangles is a genius.

The Stick Badge

I’m eternally torn on this one. Stick is great but the ubiquity of his theme song momentarily threatened to become another ‘Crazy Frog’. The feint of pretending that the Squirrels had accidentally burnt their new friend is a tiny bit of gently gleeful horror that will delight any parents who unwisely purchased this.

CBeebies Songs | Hey Duggee | Stick Song

The Accessory Badge

It’s no small achievement to maintain such high standards over 196 episodes (and counting), but this season four highlight shows Duggee has lost none of its charm. The Accessory Badge is a madcap seven minutes in which the Squirrels discover accessorising, accessorise EVERYTHING, and then learn a bit of self-control. It’s all about Tag and the biker gang.

The Food Growing Badge

Let’s not kid around, Happy is the best of the Squirrels. His non-stop, delightfully absurd stream-of-consciousness is reminiscent of so many filter-less little kids in the most charming way imaginable.

The Food Growing Badge | Hey Duggee

The Story Badge

The Squirrels hijacking Duggee’s calm, careful plan is a regular theme, but it’s at its finest when they subvert his boring story to introduce a dinosaur, breakfast popcorn, an evil princess, Barbara the robot car and a giant strawberry with arms and legs.

The River Badge

Not only does this feature the wonderful Chew Chew (a panda who sounds like Adele), it also contains the most exquisitely judged references to The African Queen and Apocalypse Now. The biscuits! The biscuits!

The River Badge | Hey Duggee

The Puppet Show Badge

No other episode is a better showcase for Hey Duggee’s boundless creativity. The Squirrels have just come back from King Tiger’s house and decide to recount their adventure in a puppet show. It’s here that the episode abruptly drops its animated format, crafting the characters out of the same felt, pipe cleaners and straws you’d find in any preschool arts corner. It’s ridiculously brilliant.

The Puppet Show Badge | Hey Duggee

Get tickets for Hey Duggee – The Live Theatre Show, on tour around the UK until August 2023