IT’S the TV show which has charmed both youngsters and parents alike - and now Hey Duggee is heading to the stage for the first time.

Ahead of Hey Duggee the Live Theatre Show arriving at The Lowry, director Matthew Xia and musical supervisor Vikki Stone, who both adapted the CBBC series for stage, talked about bringing a very special world to life.

“When the producer Kenny Wax first approached me, he said: ‘I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Hey Duggee…’, and I said it’s one of my favourites,” explained Matthew. “My daughter was born in 2014, the same year Hey Duggee started, so we’ve really grown up with the show.”

By contrast, Vikki hadn’t seen a single episode. She said: “I didn’t know Hey Duggee at all when I was approached. So, I spent a long time getting very closely acquainted with the show, and now I love it!

“I very quickly got pulled into it and caught up in the world of Duggee, the Squirrels and their friends. It’s very funny and full of joy and laughs.

Messenger Newspapers: Hey Duggee The Live Theatre Show                   (Pictures: Pamela Raith)

“And I very soon realised how special Hey Duggee is, that it sits in the realm of co-viewing; the adults are watching it with their children, not just putting it on to entertain them while they’re doing something else.”

So how did they tackle creating Hey Duggee The Live Theatre Show?

“The first day, Matthew and I sat in an office and had our own lists of our favourite bits – and we had chosen a lot of the same things,” Vikki explained.

Matthew said: “Kenny had given us pretty much free reign. That also made the challenge even greater; taking 156 episodes, each one seven minutes long, and turning them into a complete theatrical experience for children.”

Matthew and Vikki have worked closely with the TV show’s creator Grant Orchard and the rest of the team behind Hey Duggee at Studio AKA, in creating the live experience.

“It has been really interesting working alongside the Hey Duggee TV team,” Vikki said. “Duggee is effectively Grant’s baby.

“They are new to theatre and are amazed at what we can do that TV can’t, or how we translate things from TV into a live setting.

“With the animated series, the script has to be locked in and cannot be altered from that point. The dialogue is recorded, and then it’s animated to fit. Whereas, in theatre it’s almost the opposite – we can tweak the script all the way through the process.”

With more than 150 episodes to pull from, and the freedom of creativity, what can fans of Hey Duggee expect from the live theatre show?

“We had to think about what an audience member would want and expect to see from Hey Duggee on stage; badges, songs, jokes, in-gags,” Vikki said. “It’s all there.”

Messenger Newspapers: Hey Duggee the Live Theatre Show (Picture: Pamela Raith)

“Essentially, we have created a big quest story,” Matthew added. “Without spoiling it, the Squirrels have never been to a show before, and they set out to learn about all the things that go into making a show and earn the relevant badges.

“We’ve brought in some of our favourite Hey Duggee stars to help the Squirrels – Mrs Weaver, Hennie and Chew Chew, who I can mention, as well as several more that I can’t… And the children and families in the audience are very much going to be part of the Squirrel gang. They will have important things to do!”

Have they felt the pressure of recreating such a well-loved TV show?

“I do feel slightly petrified of letting people down, as Hey Duggee is such a very special TV programme,” Matthew said. “It’s a huge responsibility to take such well-known characters and to meet all the expectations.

“Added to that, for many of the children coming to Hey Duggee The Live Theatre Show it will be their first theatrical experience. How exciting is that?

“I can’t wait to see the children’s responses – that’s why I make theatre, to see the effect it has on audiences.

“The biggest thing I want to achieve though is that children leave the theatre and say ‘I can’t wait to go back!’.”

Hey Duggee the Live Theatre Show, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Friday, March 24 to Sunday, March 26. Details from