According to the Toronto Star, Dudley the Dragon was the first children’s series to be produced simultaneously in English and French. This was done for the first two seasons. The show would first be shot in English, with Asia Vieira (playing Sally) and Daniel DeSanto (playing her brother Matt) interacting with Dudley. They would be watched by the French-language actors, Annick Obonsawin (Sophie) and Anael G. Roy (Max), who would afterwards perform the French version, Les aventures d’Arthur le dragon. The eighth episode credits list the same puppeteers performing in both languages, with James Rankin as M. Rouge-Gorge (Mr. Robin) and Wende Welch as Mme Rouge-Gorge (Mrs. Robin) and Irène (Katrina) the whale.
In Canada, The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon played on Knowledge Network in British Columbia, Access Alberta in Alberta, SCN in Saskatchewan, MTN in Manitoba, TVOntario, CFCF in Quebec and MITV in the Maritimes. Les aventures d’Arthur le dragon played on TVOntario/La Chaine, Canal Famille in Quebec and MITV.
Obonsawin only appeared in the first season. Today she’s probably best known for her voiceover work as Inez in Cyberchase and Sophie in Total Drama Island. She addresses her Total Drama fans here.
Information about Les aventures d’Arthur is sparse; this is all I’ve been able to ascertain. My remaining questions would be:
Why call Dudley “Arthur” in French?
Who dubbed “Arthur”?
Why were only two seasons done in French?
Why did Obonsawin leave after one season? Who replaced her? Was the replacement a new character or just a new version of Sophie?
Did the English guest stars reprise their roles in French? If so, did they perform speaking French or were their voices dubbed? Or were they, like the kids, replaced with French-language actors?
What were the differences in characters, or actors, beyond the language? What were the cultural differences other than the language?
To be continued.
Sources: Kathy Kastner, Toronto Star, October 2, 1993, “He’s No Dud; Dudley the Dragon is joined by moppets, puppets and people in adventures that help children discover the world around them,” Section C, pg. SW4; Suzanne Gill, The Lethbridge Herald, September 30, 1994, “The Big, Green Success Story,” TV Scene, pp. 1, 3.