Beat Bugs is an Australian-Canadian animated children's television series, created by Josh Wakely, and produced for Netflix by Grace: A Storytelling Company and Thunderbird Entertainment. The series is centered around five young anthropomorphised insects who live in an overgrown suburban backyard and learn life lessons while having adventures. Wakely acquired worldwide rights from Sony/ATV Music Publishing to a catalogue of music by the Beatles to feature in the series. The program features versions of songs by the popular rock group, performed by contemporary recording artists and interwoven into the narrative.
|Created by||Josh Wakely|
|Directed by||Josh Wakely|
|Opening theme||"All You Need Is Love" performed by Andy Bull, Gossling, iOTA, Lisa Mitchell and Sullivan.|
|Ending theme||"All You Need Is Love"|
|Country of origin|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||52, 1 special (list of episodes)|
|Running time||12 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||August 3, 2016 –|
Beat Bugs was produced in association with Beyond Entertainment, Atomic Cartoons and the Seven Network, an investor of the program. The series was first made available worldwide on Netflix on August 3, 2016 after premiering in Australia exclusively on 7TWO on July 25, 2016.
The program received an AWGIE Award in animation for an episode script in 2016, an AACTA Award for Best Children's Television Series and a Daytime Emmy Award in 2017. The second season premiered in November 2016 on Netflix and 7TWO, and was followed by a 48-minute special in November 2017. Additional episodes entered pre-production in 2018. A staged production featuring the characters and themes of the show, Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure, began playing in theaters in the U.S. in October 2018.
Beat Bugs is a series aimed at five to seven year olds, set in an overgrown suburban backyard, which serves as an environment that five young bug friends regularly explore. To the bugs, the backyard is known as "Village Green". Songs by the Beatles, such as "Come Together" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", are interwoven into the narrative of the episodes. These versions are performed by popular recording artists such as Pink and Sia. The songs often influence the life lessons that the young bugs learn.
Wakely described the series as "about teaching kids, but with a bit of humour and not in a patronising way." He stated that the message of the song "All You Need is Love" was the main idea he wanted to portray.
- Ashleigh Ball as Jay, a curious, ambitious and impulsive beetle. Singing voice provided by Andy Bull.
- Lili Beaudoin as Crick, an intelligent and creative cricket, who is also an inventor. Singing voice provided by SULLIVAN, Julia Stone, and Martha Marlow.
- Charles Demers as Walter, a theatrical slug with a big heart but excessive fears. Singing voice provided by iOTA and Daniel Johns.
- Rebecca Husain as Buzz, an optimistic and enthusiastic fruit fly who is the youngest of the group. Singing voice provided by Gossling.
- Erin Mathews as Kumi, a confident and imaginative ladybug with a zest for life, who is protective of her friends. Singing voice provided by Lisa Mitchell.
Lucy the Dragonfly
Postman Bee (Brian Drummond; singing Wesley Schultz) is a bee who, as his name implies, works as a postal worker. He is never late and always gets his deliveries right, unless he is feeling sad about something. He cares a great deal for his grandmother, Granny Bee (Nicole Oliver) who was once a famous TV chef known for her honey pie.
Doris the Spider (Gwynyth Walsh) is an elderly arachnid who is always filling her garden with beautiful art pieces that are made from her webbing and various other objects found in the backyard. She teaches the bugs to see the beauty in everything.
Geoff the Cockroach (Peter Kelamis; singing Dave Faulkner) is an opportunistic roach who acts like a sleazy business man. He typically sells homes to the residents in the backyard, implying that he is a realtor. He gets along with Alex the Stinkbug.
Alex the Stinkbug (Fred Ewanuick) is a jokey bug that is always farting. His farts are powerful enough to power machines built by Crick. He can be uncouth, but is very friendly. He gets along with Geoff the Cockroach.
Katter (Britt McKillip; singing Frances) is a pretty caterpillar who later transforms into a butterfly. She is soft-spoken and shy, but is very friendly with everyone. She is best friends with Morgs and Millie.
Morgs (David Paul Grove; singing James Corden) is a very nervous and self-conscious stick bug. He has trouble standing up for himself and wishes that he wasn't "just a stick". He is best friends with Katter and Millie.
Millie Pede (Maryke Hendrikse; singing Tori Kelly) is a multifooted millipede who is kind and reserved. She is unsure of her dancing ability, but with help from her friends learns to do so effectively. She is best friends with Morgs and Katter.
Mr. Sun (Michael Caton; singing Robbie Williams and Yusuf Islam / Cat Stevens) is the large all seeing star during the daytime. Despite his largeness, he can speak directly to the bugs and has even sent and received letters from them. In All Together Now, Mr. Sun now has a beard and arms.
Dr. Robot (Peter Kelamis; singing Ev Jones) is a special robot that Crick built to help his friends while Dr. Robert was on vacation. Despite a few kinks here and there he has proven to be efficient. When Dr. Robert returned, Dr. Robot became Crick's assistant for his experiments.
Blackbird (Bethany Brown; singing Sia, Regina Spektor, and Jennifer Hudson) is a bird that always has her head in the clouds, both figuratively and literally. The bugs helped her damaged wing and in return, she stuck around to help them in anyway she could.
Mr. Mudwasp (Andrew Hansen; singing Daniel Johns), a wasp, and working man who lives in a hive that he is constantly renovating. He is always trying to speak in foreign terms. He has numerous wasp children with his constantly pregnant wife, Mrs. Mudwasp (Ashleigh Ball). They were once identified as the Hendersons. Mr. Mudwasp has also been identified as Baz.
The Ants (Kyle Rideout) are the colony workers of the backyard. They all think uniformly as one and thus have a hard time acting as separate people. They all live in one ant hill and become lost if anything happened to it.
Freda (Shannon Chan-Kent; singing Kate Miller-Heidke) is Walter's long lost sister introduced in All Together Now. She is a very ditsy slug that shares many similarities and differences with her twin brother. She moves into a house next door to Walter. She is named after the Beatles' secretary Freda Kelly.
Glowies are glow bugs that act as a full light source for all the bugs. They always seem to be angry or annoyed at everyone, possibly because they are constantly used all the time and are treated more like objects. Nevertheless, they do their job effectively.
Octopus (Jay Brazeau) is a talking sprinkler toy that resembles a purple octopus. He only communicates with the bugs and provides comfort to everyone by spraying water. However, he is only capable of doing so when the hose he is connected to is on.
Bulldog (Colin Murdock; singing James Bay) is a big friendly slobbering dog. He initially had no home or way to communicate with the bugs, but Crick builds a translator and is adopted by the humans.
Mee-Yow (Ashleigh Ball) is a cat that is owned by the humans. He roams about the yard and, while not necessarily mean, is shown to be rather dangerous to the bugs as he tends to attack and play with them.
The Man (JR Bourne and Ian Hanlin) and Julia's Mom (Erin Mathews) Gigants are what the bugs refer to humans, whom the bugs are fascinated by. They live in the "Big House" at the edge of the backyard. They have a daughter named Julia, and have a second daughter named Jude in All Together Now.
Julia (Rebecca Husain) is the first born daughter of the humans who live in the "Big House". Jay seems to relate to her. As of All Together Now, Julia becomes a big sister after her mom has a baby girl named Jude.
Beat Bugs was created by Josh Wakely who in 2014, under his US-Australian production company Grace, acquired worldwide rights from Sony/ATV Music Publishing to a catalogue of music by the Beatles. The music was to be used for a children's animated series in development to be entitled Beat Bugs, which would tell the story of young bugs learning life lessons set to songs by the popular rock group. The publishers liked Wakely's vision of bringing the classic songs to a new audience of children with original stories written around them. Managing director of Sony/ATV Damian Trotter stated, "the idea of opening up the single greatest music catalogue of the 20th Century to the next generation is something we are particularly excited about". The music acquired was the Lennon-McCartney "Northern Songs" catalogue. The deal reportedly cost an estimated $10 million.
Wakely, an Australian writer and producer who grew up as a fan of the Beatles, stated that he never considered using any other artist's music for the series. He said, "people in years to come will talk about the Beatles like we talk about Shakespeare." Wakely spent three years originally working on the show before acquiring the rights to the Beatles' music, and by this time, he had already conceived all of the episodes and characters. Of the characters, he said, "They have lived in my head for so long that I don't have their date of conception". Wakely sold the project to Netflix as a global distribution partner. The Seven Network in Australia was also an investor of the production.
Daniel Johns, former singer of Silverchair, arranged and produced the music for the series as musical director. He stated, "It's a dream job to go into the studio and dissect all of the Beatles' music". Johns and Wakely had previously worked together on a musical short film which Wakely wrote and directed. Wakely was closely involved in the production, arranging and mixing of the music.
More than 1000 people were involved in the production of the show, including a worldwide team of writers and animators in Australia, Los Angeles and Vancouver. Wakely described the process as a full-time job lasting three years. Vancouver's Atomic Cartoons created the 3D animation for the series. By the show's premiere, Wakely had spent six years working on the program from its conception. It wasn't originally planned to produce Beat Bugs in Australia until Beyond Entertainment allowed Wakely to do so.
The initial order of 52 segments (26 half-hour episodes) was split into two 13-episode seasons for distribution. The episodes were a given a provisional classification of C (children's) in Australia over 2014–15. All episodes from Season 1 became available on Netflix in the US on August 3, 2016. Prior to its premiere, on July 27, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season to debut later in the year. The first season premiered exclusively in Australia on 7TWO on July 25, 2016. Season 2 was released through Netflix on November 18, 2016. The second season also debuted on 7TWO on November 16, 2016. A 48-minute special entitled Beat Bugs: All Together Now, premiered on Netflix on November 21, 2017.
A second order of 52 segments (26 half-hour episodes) were granted a C classification in Australia in July 2018, with the order indicating that the series was in pre-production. Netflix is yet to officially announce the new episodes.
|1||13||August 3, 2016|
|2||13||November 18, 2016|
|Special||1||November 21, 2017|
|3||13||November 9, 2018|
Beat Bugs generally received favourable reviews. Critics praised the concept of reimagining Beatles songs for a young audience. Reporting for Common Sense Media, Emily Ashby said "this unique series borrows some of rock-and-roll's most recognizable lyrics to help tell its gentle stories and teach excellent life lessons", commending it as a series for parents and children to watch together. David Knox of TV Tonight praised the music for "bursting with optimism and exuberance", while describing the animation as "an alluring, inviting feast". A reviewer for the Daily Telegraph applauded how the series presents children with "an influence that lasts beyond the screen time".
Ivan Radford of VODzilla.co noted that the program as a whole "is something closer to a visual album than a series", and stated that the show's theme song of "All You Need is Love" provides "an upbeat sentiment that gives an overall theme and identity to this strange universe". However, Radford expressed that the main characters are not always fully developed.
Beat Bugs received a 2016 AWGIE Award in animation for the episode script of "Yellow Submarine", written by Wakely. The episodes "Hey Bulldog", written by Kate Mulvany, and "Ticket to Ride", by Erica Harrison, were also nominated. The program also won an AACTA Award for Best Children's Television Series. Beat Bugs was also nominated for five 2017 Daytime Emmy Awards in 2017, and won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program.
The series also received some negative comments. Jordan Runtagh of Decider disliked the character of Jay, stating "I find the lack of comeuppance for his behavior distressing". He stated the music of the series is "forgettable, but inoffensive", however added that the songs are incorporated into the episode narratives "with grace and skill". Decider''s Jessica Jernigan of described the series as "disheartening and dull because there's so little art in the transformation of Beatles lyrics into stories", suggesting that the songs were already appropriate for children "without visual or narrative contextualization."
The first season was added to the Australian Netflix library on February 28, 2017. In Australia, Beat Bugs premiered on pay-TV channel Nick Jr. in May 2017. The free-to-air broadcasting of the series moved to 7flix in 2017 to continue airing repeats.
In Canada, the show started airing on the CBC Kids programming block on CBC on February 26, 2018. In Ukraine, the show started airing on the Niki Junior in April 2019, titles are localized, all songs are subtitled.
The first soundtrack to the show, "Beat Bugs: The Complete Season One" was released on online music-streaming service Apple Music on August 3, 2016. The release featured all of the songs performed by the guest artists in the first season, compiled on one soundtrack. It was only available exclusively on Apple Music until November 4, 2016. The record was released by Republic Records and Universal Music. Melodia Music was formed by the show's production to release music from Beat Bugs and other related productions.
A new compilation album, "Beat Bugs: The Best of Seasons 1 & 2" was released physically and digitally on November 4, 2016. This was the first time a selection of the music from the first season was available for purchase, and included songs from the second season ahead of its premiere. "Beat Bugs: The Complete Season One" was also made available on iTunes for the first time.
Beat Bugs: A Musical AdventureEdit
A live musical stage show, Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure, began playing in theaters in the United States in October 2018. The show, running 60 minutes, was written by Sean Cercone and David Abbinanti. The show's plot involves the characters seeking to save Strawberry Fields from a stinkbug with other plans for them. The show includes the songs "All You Need Is Love," "Come Together," "Yellow Submarine," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Eleanor Rigby," and "With A Little Help From My Friends." It is a production of Pantochino Productions.
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2016||AWGIE Awards||Animation||"Hey Bulldog" – Kate Mulvany||Nominated|||
|"Ticket to Ride" – Erica Harrison||Nominated|
|"Yellow Submarine" – Josh Wakely||Won|
|AACTA Awards||Best Children's Television Series||Beat Bugs||Won|||
|2017||Canadian Screen Awards||Best Animated Program or Series||Beat Bugs||Nominated|||
|Logie Awards||Outstanding Children's Program||Beat Bugs||Nominated|||
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Animated Program||Beat Bugs – Josh Wakely, Joshua Mapleston, Cleon Prineas||Won|||
|Outstanding Directing in a Preschool Animated Program||Beat Bugs – Josh Wakely||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Main Title and Graphic Design||Beat Bugs – Directed by Josh Wakely, Storyboard by Mark Appleby, Animation Director Pablo De La Torre, Director Jon Mead, Animation Supervisor Fredrick Fasse, Animation/Layout Supervisor Alexandru Nagy||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Sound Mixing in a Preschool Animated Program||Beat Bugs – Brent Clark, Sam Hayward, Wes Swales, Bob Mothersbaugh||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Sound Editing in a Preschool Animated Program||Beat Bugs – Jared Dwyer, Sam Hayward, Blair Slater||Nominated|||
|2019||Kidscreen Awards||Best One-Off, Special or TV Movie||Nominated|||
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Sound Mixing in a Preschool Animated Program||Won|||
|Outstanding Sound Editing in a Preschool Animated Program||Nominated|
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- "Jay Beat Bugs". Yahoo!7 TV. July 4, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
- "Voice of Jay". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Crick". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Crick Beat Bugs". Yahoo!7 TV. July 4, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
- "Voice of Walter". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "walter" (PDF). beatbugs.com.
Walter the slug can squeeze into small spaces!
- "Walter Beat Bugs". Yahoo!7 TV. July 4, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
- "Voice of Buzz". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "buzz" (PDF). beatbugs.com.
Buzz is a fruit fly. Draw Buzz's favorite fruits to eat.
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- "Voice of Kumi". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "kumi" (PDF). beatbugs.com.
Kumi is a ladybug. Draw where a ladybug lives.
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- "Voice of Postman Bee". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Granny Bee". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Doris the Spider". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Cockroach". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Alex the Stinkbug". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
- "Voice of Dr. Robert". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Katter". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Morgs". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Milli Pede". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- "Voice of Mr. Sun". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Mr. Moonlight". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Dr. Robot". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- "Voice of Blackbird". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Mr. Mudwasp". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Mrs. Mudwasp". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Beat Bugs Fab Figures Baz Action Figure". Amazon. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
- "Voice of The Ants". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
- "Voice of Octopus". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- "Voice of Bulldog". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- "GRACE Productions secures Beatles song rights for animated series Beat Bugs". Flickering Myth. March 12, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "Animated Children's Series 'Beat Bugs' To Feature Beatles … Music That Is". Deadline. March 11, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
- Lo, Ricky (August 1, 2016). "Josh Wakely: Bitten by the Beatle bug". The Philippine Star. PhilStar Daily, Inc. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
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- Knox, David (February 11, 2016). "Beat Bugs coming to Presto". TV Tonight. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
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- ""Beat Bugs: Best of Seasons 1 & 2" is available today". U Music. November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
- "Programs granted C and P classification - 2014-2015" (Word). Australian Communications and Media Authority. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
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- "Programs granted C and P classification - 2017-18". Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Archived from the original (Excel) on July 18, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Gray, Chris (November 16, 2016). "Raising a Toddler the Beat Bugs Way". Houston Press. Voice Media Group. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
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- "Beat Bugs review: adventure set to an all-star soundtrack". The Daily Telegraph. September 5, 2016. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
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- "'Trollhunters' Leads All Animated Series With 7 Daytime Emmy Nods". Cartoon Brew. 2017-03-23. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
- Runtagh, Jordan (August 11, 2016). "10 questions Beatles fans will have about Netflix's animated series Beat Bugs". Decider. NYP Holdings, Inc. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- Jernigan, Jessica (August 8, 2016). "Beat Bugs makes the regrettable decision to interpret the lyrics of the Beatles literally". Decider. NYP Holdings, Inc. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- "Beyond Distribution's Beat Bugs heads to Nickelodeon Australia". Beyond. May 31, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- Dickson, Jeremy (May 26, 2017). "Nickelodeon Australia snaps up Beat Bugs". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- "Emmy® Win For Beat Bugs!". Beyond Home Entertainment. Beyond. May 1, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
- Thomas, Leah (August 3, 2016). "The Beat Bugs soundtrack is full of epic Beatles covers you won't want to miss". Bustle.com. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
- "Pantochino - Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure". Retrieved September 11, 2018.
- "The Coterie - Beat Bugs: A Musical Adventure". Retrieved September 11, 2018.
- Kit, Borys (10 May 2019). "Beatles-Inspired Animated Series 'Beat Bugs' Heading to Big Screen Via MGM (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- Beat Bugs: The Movie on IMDb
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- "Beat Bugs | Best Animated Series | Canadian Screen Awards". Academy.ca. 2016-12-30. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
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