The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon premiered in Canada on October 2, 1993, some ten years after Dudley’s debut in The Conserving Kingdom. But Breakthrough Films and Television Inc. wanted him to be seen south of the border. For that, they signed with PBS affiliate WEDU in Tampa, Florida. WEDU would co-sponsor the show, distribute it, and share in profits from the merchandising.
Dudley himself promoted the show at the PBS National Convention in Orlando in June 1994. He entertained the kids and impersonated Richard Nixon for PBS President and C.E.O. Ervin S. Duggan. He also “shamelessly” chased women down halls and into elevators during a Saturday night hospitality reception. The St. Petersburg Times reporter was assured that this was the road show version of Dudley; on TV he would be the epitome of politeness.
By June, 150 PBS affiliates had signed for 25 episodes, the first two seasons. By fall, nearly 200 of 280 PBS stations had signed for the show, including 23 of the top 25 markets. When the series premiered on WNET New York, it had attracted two million viewers–despite a lack of promotion. It was the largest audience for that Sunday 10:00 a.m. time slot in over two years.
Macy’s Department Store executives were impressed. Their own kids loved Dudley. So they contacted Meridian Direct, which handled Dudley merchandising in the U.S., to have the friendly green dragon appear in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Rob Stone, Meridian’s president, was only too happy to comply.
Sources: Walt Belcher, The Tampa Tribune, June 6, 1994, “Barney’s new rival? – WEDU discovers Dudley the Dragon, A Challenger to the Purple Dinosaur,” p. E18; Jennifer L. Stevenson, St. Petersburg Times, June 8, 1994, “PBS Puts Its Shows on the Road with a Roar,” p. 6B; Tony Atherton, Kingston Whig – Standard, Kingston, Ont., December 20, 1994, “Ex-Civil Servant Likely Next Hit: New PBS Star Dudley is a Do-Right Canadian-Style Dino,” p. 26.