THE global success of Bluey never fails to surprise Dave McCormack.
For the best part of 25 years the laid-back and affable 53-year-old was known for singing '90s indie-rock hits like Apartment, Girls Like That (Don't Go For Guys Like Us) and Anatomically Correct in Brisbane indie-rock band Custard.
Not anymore. McCormack has earned a greater audience voicing Bandit Heeler, arguably the most beloved dad on Australian TV due to his supportive parenting and imaginative play with his daughters Bluey and Bingo.
"I saw a photo of Billy Joel hosting a Bluey party for his kid [six-year-old daughter Della Rose]," an excited McCormack says. "It's incredible. So basically Billy Joel and I are close personal friends now, sort of."
The Piano Man isn't alone. There's a host of celebrities McCormack can claim as friends.
Hollywood couple Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling are massive Bluey fans, as is Australian actress Rose Byrne and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
"I am more well known but I'm not in the public eye, if you know what I mean?" McCormack says.
"My voice and Bluey is very well known but no one ever really sees me. It's perfect in a way. If I was in The Wiggles or something and you'd go to the shop everyone would be like, 'there's that Wiggle'.
"But this way it's great. As long as I don't talk too loudly nobody knows who I am."
Since Bluey debuted in 2018, the animated show has become ABC iview's most streamed program with more than 500 million views.
That's of course led to a successful range of merchandise such as toys, clothes and books and a theatre show.
Then in late 2019 the series appeared on Disney+ internationally, bringing suburban Brisbane to the world.
However, Bluey remains proudly Australian, and parents are fiercely protective of the blue heeler family of four.
Recently an American parent remarked that they wished Bluey would make a Thanksgiving or Halloween episode on a fan chat room. The comment received hundreds of angry replies from Australian parents who rallied against any Americanisation of the beloved show.
"The people behind the show, their heads are screwed on right, they're not going to tweak it," McCormack says.
"They'll stay true to their roots. It's a show about humans, but it's set in Australia and by Australians. Thanksgiving, I don't think that's even on the Bluey radar is it?"
For years US children's programs have dominated Australia and it's led to some kids adopting American accents. McCormack says he's heard of the opposite happening.
"I read some article where some American kids are starting to pick up bit of an Australian accent from watching so much Bluey, so that's cool," he says.
"It's out there and spreading the love and good times from Australia to the world, so it's a pretty amazing thing that's happened. For a show from Brissy to go all around the world and be so loved, it's pretty special."
If the forthcoming season three of Bluey is any indication, creator Joe Brumm is sticking to the show's origins.
In the new series Bandit grows a mullet, pretends to a French chef and indulges in his passion for cricket.
While the stories expand and grow, the message of Bluey remains constant - spending time with your kids is invaluable.
"Bandit always inspires me to take time and make time to be with my kids because it's so easy to leave them on devices and doing their own thing," McCormack, who has daughters 9 and 7, says.
"From Bandit you've just got to learn to be there and in the moment and do stuff with your kids because too soon they're gonna be too old and they're not going to want to hang out with you anyway.
"By the time they're mid-teens when you go to the shops they're not gonna walk with you, they'll be 10 metres in front or behind you and suddenly you'll go from being a large part of their world to being an embarrassment.
"From Bandit we've just got to take every moment we can and enjoy it."
Bluey season three premieres Monday at 8am on ABC Kids and ABC iview.
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