Clifford the Big Red Dog is an American-British educational animated children's television series, based upon Norman Bridwell's children's book series of the same name. Produced by Scholastic Productions, it originally aired on PBS from September 4, 2000 to February 25, 2003. The UK version (where it was dubbed with British voice actors replacing the original American soundtrack) originally aired on BBC 2 from April 1, 2002. A revival of the series is set for a 2020 launch, and the follow-up to the February 2004 animated film Clifford's Really Big Movie, it was the film notably depicts characters with sclera, in contrast to the books and TV series, which portrayed every character except the giant Clifford with black bead eyes.
Two 15-minute stories made up each half-hour cartoon. Usually one story featured Clifford and his canine friends, Cleo and T-Bone among them; the other story would focus on Clifford's owner Emily Elizabeth and her friends. As in other shows of its kind, during scenes focusing on the dog characters' perspective, human speech would replace barking to engage viewers in the storyline from the dogs' point of view.
John Ritter voiced Clifford in all episodes. This was originally done by Brent Titcomb in the series that debuted in 1988 and ran into the early 1990s. Generally speaking, his schedule dictated the production of Clifford the Big Red Dog. By the time the last of the 68 half-hour cartoons and the movie were completed, Ritter was back on ABC's prime-time schedule, starring in 8 Simple Rules. Ritter died on September 11, 2003, less than a week before PBS debuted Clifford's Puppy Days, a function of keeping Clifford's legacy going.
While no new Clifford episodes have been released since Ritter's death in 2003, voice actors for the main characters have reprised some of their roles for the Ready to Learn PBS Kids PSAs. The film Clifford's Really Big Movie serves as the series finale due to Ritter's death, as no new episodes were made to continue from where it left off.
- Clifford the Big Red Dog (voiced by John Ritter; Tom Eastwood in the British version): A giant red Labrador Retriever/Vizsla cross. The depiction of Clifford's size is inconsistent; he is often shown as being about 25 feet tall (7.6 m) from paws to head, but can appear far larger. The character is based on the imaginary friend of creator Norman Bridwell's wife. Clifford is devoted to his owner Emily Elizabeth. He is friendly, shy, lovable, loyal, gentle and helpful but sometimes gets into trouble because of his size, or is tempted into trouble by his friends and those he meets. Despite his role as the protagonist, he seldom has episodes focusing on him, usually serving as the voice-of-reason for his friends' misadventures.
- Cleo (voiced by Cree Summer; Regine Candler in the British version): An energetic, selfish, trouble-making purple poodle with a tendency to not tell the truth. Her catchphrase is "Have I ever steered you wrong?" which she inadvertently does immediately after. She is one of Clifford's best friends. Her owner is Mrs. Diller.
- T-Bone (voiced by Kel Mitchell; Benjamin Small in the British version): A male yellow and orange bulldog with a large appetite. He is often cowardly, clumsy, and cautious, but does have his moments of bravery. He is one of Clifford's best friends. T-Bone is in love with Mimi, another dog who visits from time to time. His owner is Sheriff Lewis.
- T-Bone had a best friend named Hamburger (voiced by Kel Mitchell's longtime comedy partner Kenan Thompson) who moved away before Clifford arrived.
- Mac (voiced by Cameron Clarke): A male blue greyhound with an inflated sense of self-importance, who shifts between aloofness and wanting to be part of Clifford, Cleo, and T-Bone's circle of friends. Mac competes in dog shows. He can be vain, bossy and selfish. However, he appears to be devoted to his owner Jetta. It is revealed in a few episodes that his name is short for Machiavelli.
- Emily Elizabeth Howard (voiced by Grey DeLisle; Joanna Ruiz in the British version): an eight-year-old Clifford's owner. A friendly, curious, and helpful girl. The best skater on the island, and also very good at soccer. Emily Elizabeth adopted Clifford when he was a very small puppy, when her parents gave him to her on her 6th birthday. Emily's love caused Clifford to grow enormous, thus starting their new lives on Birdwell Island. Despite caring for Clifford and reading to him in every episode, she does not discipline him or command him and just lets him roam free. Emily was named for creator Norman Bridwell's daughter and based on the imaginary adventures of Bridwell's wife.
- Caroline Howard (also voiced by Grey DeLisle): Emily Elizabeth's mom
- Mark Howard (voiced by Cameron Clarke: Emily Elizabeth's dad
- Charley (voiced by Gary LeRoi Gray): Emily Elizabeth's best friend and the best soccer player on the Birdwell Birds (the school soccer team). He lives on a houseboat with his father, who owns a restaurant.
- Samuel (voiced by Terrence C. Carson): Charley's father and the Jamaican owner of Samuel's Fish and Chips. He is a great storyteller and runs most of the pier.
- Jetta Handover (voiced by Kath Soucie): Mac's owner. She is a wealthy, self-centered friend of Emily Elizabeth who is often oblivious to others' feelings. She is often shown leading parades and competing in talent shows as a majorette. Jetta often claims her accomplishments are bigger or better than others' and finds herself humbled when she aims too high to the point where she needs help. Her mother owns one of the island stores and seems somewhat oblivious to Jetta's behavior. She often appears to dislike Clifford, criticizing him for minor accidents caused by his size, but occasionally she will show that she really does like him.
- Cosmo Handover (voiced by Debi Derryberry) is the infant brother of Jetta. He is first seen in the episode "And Baby Makes 4".
- Vaz (voiced by Ulysses Cuadra): Somewhat clumsy, shy, and unlucky boy who is friends with Emily Elizabeth and Charley.
- Sheriff Lewis (voiced by Nick Jameson): T-Bone's owner. The island's sheriff and the soccer coach. He feeds T-Bone often (explaining why T-Bone is overweight).
- He had a best friend named Chief Wilson who moved away with T-Bone's best buddy, Hamburger.
- Mrs. Diller (voiced by Cree Summer): Cleo's owner.
- Horace Bleakman (voiced by Earl Boen) lives with his wife Violet. He is often grumpy and impatient about the noise and mess Clifford inadvertently causes, but he is still a good neighbor and helps Clifford and the others from time to time.
- Violet Bleakman (voiced by Edie McClurg) is the first neighbor of the Howards to introduce herself. She is a little more nice, calm, and patient than her cranky husband Horace.
- Pedro and Victor (both voiced by Tony Plana) are dock workers who help unload the boat in "Welcome to Birdwell Island".
The series has at least 5 segments in the show, which are:
- Theme Song
- 1st Story - The opening theme is followed by the first central story, which is about the dogs, and a problem they face.
- Storytime with Speckle - Between the first and second story, Emily Elizabeth reads Clifford the Speckle Story, a small 60 seconds (approximately) time filler about a fictional dog (Speckle), and his animal friends.
- 2nd Story - This is followed by another central story, about Emily Elizabeth and her friends.
- Clifford's Big Ideas - Before the credits, another 30-second short takes place called Clifford's Big Ideas. The short is basically an animation of an etiquette, a proverb, or basic truth such as "Play Fair", "Help Others", etc., with narration by Emily Elizabeth.
This series was only produced by Mike Young Productions and Scholastic Studios. John Ritter voices Clifford on this series before his death in 2003. Grey DeLisle voices Emily Elizabeth. She would reprise this role in the prequel Clifford's Puppy Days.
In 2004, Warner Bros. Pictures distributed a feature-length animated film based on the show titled Clifford's Really Big Movie. It was about Clifford, Cleo and T-Bone joining an animal show to win a lifetime supply of dog food to provide for Clifford. This was John Ritter's last film as he died on September 11, 2003, after completing voice work for the film. The film was dedicated to his memory. The movie also stars Wayne Brady as Shackleford the Ferret, Judge Reinhold as Amazing Larry, John Goodman as J.T Wolfsbottom, and Jenna Elfman as Dorothy the Cow. The film also serves as the series finale.
- Clifford's Reading
- Clifford's Thinking Games
- Clifford's Learning Activities
- Clifford's Musical Memory Games
- Clifford's Phonics
- Clifford's Big Puzzle Game (A Wendy's Kids' Meal DVD game, available for a limited time only)
^ Media and Culture, 5th ed., Richard Campbell, Christopher R. Martin and Bettina Fabos.