Wearing multiple hats is a necessity in parenthood. Between serving as a chef, chauffeur, and bank teller, one also has to be a therapist and a handyman. As if occupying various roles wasn't stressful enough, parents eventually have to find the time to be good at them all. In the hit children's show Peppa Pig, the running gag of Daddy Pig claiming to be proficient at everything while humorously botching the task moments later is easily one of the show's most relatable bits for adult viewers. And while the character of Daddy Pig only claims to be a jack of all trades, Richard Ridings, the actor behind the role, is as well-rounded as his animated alter ego purports to be.
Ridings' diverse array of interests and talents almost led him down a vastly different career path. "I'd always been more into sports and music," says Ridings. "I was a shot put and rugby player." By the time Ridings discovered acting in his late teens, he had already charted a successful route into the adult world. "Originally, I was going to read law," he says. However, while spending time in Yorkshire, Ridings stumbled into the world of theater.
Although acting was new to Ridings at the time, his long-standing love of music had engendered a penchant for performance in his heart. "I have my own studio, and I write and record music," says Ridings, "I may even get around to releasing it someday." If Ridings ever decides to release his music, he'd have some stiff competition from his daughter Freya, who has become a wildly popular singer/songwriter.
When the prospect of working on Peppa Pig arose in 2004, Ridings jumped at the opportunity to create content for his children. "My daughter was eight at the time," says Ridings, "and we had a boy that was two." As a father of a severely dyslexic daughter, Ridings wanted to give his children the specialized attention they required. "We home educated for a while," he says, "and that put the kibosh on theater."
Providing his voice for animation allowed Ridings the level of flexibility he needed for homeschooling while simultaneously fortifying his career. "I recorded the whole first series in one day," says Ridings, "we started at eight in the morning and finished around five in the evening."
In about the length of time it took Ridings to record his performance, Peppa Pig became a global hit. Quentin Tarantino recently called Peppa Pig "the greatest British import of the decade." Ridings never doubted the project but claims he never saw the show's massive success coming. "The signs of the popularity took everyone by surprise," he says. Even though Peppa Pig's impact initially shocked Ridings, he's since had time to dissect why the show became an international sensation. "It's all about telling stories and finding something that connects with people," says Ridings.
In retrospect, Ridings' role in Peppa Pig seems like destiny, as some of his early acting gigs focused on a similar demographic. "I started doing children's theatre," says Ridings, "and then went back to acting school."
An audible glee permeates Ridings' voice when discussing his role as Daddy Pig. "It's a wonderful story to be a part of," says Ridings, "you see it in the younger generation." Beyond using his performance as Daddy Pig as a way to "keep the magic alive," Peppa Pig's ability to educate and entertain children undoubtedly holds a special place in Ridings' heart.
Although Daddy Pig may be his most prominent role in voice acting, Ridings is no stranger to the field, with an extensive catalog of video games to his credit. Ridings has even ventured into the world of motion capture while playing "Buck" in 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When it comes to mediums of performance, Ridings doesn't have a preference. "I love the variety," says Ridings, "I love doing radio as well."
Daddy Pig may fall on his face while undertaking a task, but Ridings' prolific career has done the inverse by taking flight. So, while pigs may not fly, the voice behind Daddy Pig is riding high.