A piggin’ nightmare

12 December 2017 | Liz Bowen

Peppa Pig. Adored by children, abhorred by parents (from the statuses I’ve seen on Facebook at least…)

As a firm friend of pre-school children, Peppa Pig’s popularity is a huge PR commodity. From merchandise to an entire theme park, the escapades of the Pig family and their friends generate big bucks and have done so now for years, without any signs of slowing down.

For such a popular and iconic public figure, Peppa has reigned supreme for many a year – since 2004 to be exact – largely unscathed by any major lasting criticism. She’s a four-time Bafta-winner, don’t you know.

Of course, there was that time she was banned by one mum for being a brat and a bully and there are others who consider her ‘precocious, rude and annoying’ (and that’s just the opinion of one tweeter I spotted today).

Then of course there was the time that Daddy Pig told an arachnophobic Peppa that ‘spiders can’t hurt you’ in an episode that had to be pulled off the air in Australia (twice!) where of course, they very much can.

However, while she may be used to generating a headline or two, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated her sparking her latest debate in an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

In it, Dr Catherine Bell, a GP and mum of a two-year-old, has argued the Pig family is causing more people to visit their GP unnecessarily as fans copy the family’s ‘inappropriate’ use of their doctor, Dr Brown Bear.

Dr Bell said the service provided by her cartoon counterpart, who visits the family home for the slightest of conditions, is fuelling unrealistic expectations.

The usual advice for people suffering from everyday ails such as coughs and colds is to stay at home and not see a doctor, while drinking plenty of fluids.

The story has dominated headlines today, with several big national papers picking up on Dr Bell’s argument and referencing her article in the BMJ.

Of course, the argument, as most are, is topical to say the least. Pressures on the NHS as a whole are becoming more and more frequent, so, while the proposed perpetrator may be unconventional, Dr Bell’s argument is a completely and utterly valid one. In this instance, her unconventional tactic has most definitely paid off.   

As for Peppa? I don’t think she need worry too much. Maybe she’ll have to suffer the symptoms of that pesky cold for a few more days than usual, but as even Dr Bell admits, banning her from our screens wouldn’t be worth the wrath of the younger generation.