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If you're a four-year-old in the United Kingdom, you probably know who Peppa Pig, above, is. The anthropomorphic, snorting pig and her family are a mainstay of children's television there -- and, increasingly, elsewhere -- with unrivaled popularity throughout Great Britain. Each episode features Peppa's family and her friends (and often the friends of her brother, George) exploring the everyday adventures that come with being a preschooler. Take, for example, Wikipedia's description of the first episode of the show's third season, titled "Work and Play:" "When Peppa and Suzy [that's Suzy Sheep, Peppa's best friend] learn that grown-ups must work all day, they decide to play at working in a store. But they quickly get tired of it." It's not very hard-hitting stuff, but little kids tend to like it.
As of this writing, there are four seasons of the show totaling 208 episodes, each of which is five minutes. (There's also a ten minute Christmas special.) One of them can be seen below…
… but if you’re in Australia, your major broadcaster doesn’t want your preschooler to watch it.
That episode is called "Spider Web." Wikipedia's description is short but to the point: "There's a spider in the house, so Mummy Pig tells Daddy Pig to get rid of it." The Pig family spend much of the five minutes discussing whether the spider should be able to live with them or not -- Mummy Pig wants it gone, but Daddy Pig notes that spiders eat flies and are therefore good to have around. In the end, the family concludes that spiders are good to have around (although better outside the house than inside). Daddy Pig even makes a new rule: no one is to break a spider’s web, as the spider worked long and hard to build it, and that just wouldn’t be nice.
"Spider Web" originally aired in the UK on December 21, 2011 and soon was available for broadcast in other areas. Australia was one of those secondary regions -- but it never made it to TV there. Peppa Pig typically airs on ABC 4 Kids in Australia and the ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Company), which operates that channel, declined to air the episode.
The problem: spiders in Australia are really dangerous. Really. As Wikipedia notes, “Australia has some highly venomous spiders, including the notorious Sydney funnel-web, its relatives in the Atrax genus, and redback spiders, whose bites can be deadly.” Even though the most common spiders in Australia are generally not very toxic, there are some best avoided. Learning to play nice with spiders is a bad idea if you're an Australian four-year-old.
The ABC's decision probably wouldn't have come to light except for a slight error on their part. In August of 2012, a viewer complained that the Spider Web" episode appeared on an ABC-run website. The ABC apologized for their error, and the episode is no longer available there.