When Blue’s Clues premiered on Nickelodeon in 1996, it became an instant hit. The show would go on to run for a decade and even get a reboot — Blue’s Clues And You! — that is currently airing on the kid’s TV network. However, before the show became a classic, star of the beloved kid’s show, Steve Burns, had his reservations on if it would really work.
“I didn’t think it would work at all,” Burns told PEOPLE.
Burns, 49, wondered how an audience would react to a man in front of a green screen playing opposite an animated dog. He “thought it was simply too strange and too breakthrough, and I didn’t think the kids would talk back to the TV screen.”
That is not to say that Burns didn’t like the concept of the show, he just didn’t think they were going to work.
“These are all the things that I liked about it, but I didn’t think that they would work” he explained. “I doubted it. I was skeptical that they would work. I liked that it was kind of the Rocky Horror Children’s Show.”
He told PEOPLE that after shooting the pilot episode for Blue’s Clues, he had a weird feeling about the show. He said he recalled thinking, “That was deeply weird television.”
He might have had a weird feeling about the show because it was so different, but that ended up being the reason the show became so popular. “Then it aired, and it became immediately No. 1, and it had this global reach and everything,” he added. “It always felt like a very small and personal experience to me.”
The concept for Blue’s Clues focuses on Burns’ character AKA Steve as he tries to figure out what his dog, Blue, wants to do. He uses the clues left by Blue and jotting ideas down in his Handy Dandy Notebook to figure it out.
“It was me and a camera. And in my mind, it was me and a conversation with one other human being. So it always felt very small to me,” he says, adding that the series feels “special.”
After Burns departed the show in 2002, he was replaced by Donovan Patton who played Steve’s younger brother, Joe. Patton continued the original Blue’s Clues series until 2006 when the show ended.
When Burns left the show, some people just couldn’t accept a new face helping Blue communicate. Originally, producers framed his exit as him “going off to college.” Nickelodeon Jr. addressed that epic moment on Twitter in 2021 with a heartwarming monologue from Steve.
He essentially apologizes for leaving us all so abruptly and tells us how proud he is of the people we’ve become. *cue crying hysterically*
In a full-circle moment for many, our kids are now hanging out with Blue yet again when a revival of the series titled Blue’s Clues & You! premiered on Nickelodeon on November 11, 2019 with host Josh Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz told PEOPLE that the original Blue’s Clues paved the way for his series, Blue’s Clues & You!. Dela Cruz even said that he watched the show when he was a kid and though Blue’s Clues was a cultural phenomenon, the show still felt so deeply personal.
“When I was a kid watching the show, it was such a small personal experience, even though it was a huge mega hit,” he explained. “So even to this day, the original series is so important because of the work that they’ve done.”
The concept of the show has translated over the years and with the success of Dela Cruz’s Blue’s Clues & You! spin off, Paramount+ released a film —Blue’s Big City Adventure — featuring all of Blue’s old friends. The trio work together alongside Blue to help Josh get to an audition for a Broadway musical in New York City.
Dela Cruz added, “Did I think that the show would be received in such a big way when I took over? No, I didn’t think that it would. Not in a way that we’d get a movie like this where we’re out on location.”
Blue’s Big City Adventure is now streaming on Paramount+.