Entertainment & Arts

Orville and Emu: British TV's famous puppets go on sale

Rod Hull and Emu in Emu's Magical Christmas Show in 1981
Image caption Rod Hull's Emu often caused mayhem, playfully attacking celebrities including interviewer Michael Parkinson

Two of British TV's most famous puppets - Orville the Duck and Emu - are going on sale at auction.

Orville, a cheeky green duckling wearing a nappy, was a regular on television during the 1980s and 1990s, alongside ventriloquist Keith Harris.

Harris and Orville's success followed in the footsteps of comic Rod Hull's chaotic act with mischievous bird, Emu.

Each of the puppets is expected to fetch up to £10,000 when they go under the hammer in London next month.

Image caption Harris and Orville sold about 400,000 copies of Orville's Song - reaching number 4 in the charts and appearing on Top of the Pops
Image caption Keith Harris and Orville were the subjects of a Louis Theroux documentary in 2002

Harris became a household name thanks to the BBC programme The Keith Harris Show - on which Orville became a stand-out act.

At the peak of their popularity in the 1980s, Harris released a number of singles with the puppet - including Orville's Song ("I wish I could fly") which got to number four in the single charts.

Harris and Orville continued to make guest appearances on shows including Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Louis Theroux and Shameless before Harris appeared in Celebrity Big Brother in 2012.

He was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen in 2013, and died two years later aged 67.

Image caption EMU gets to grips with comedian and dancer Billy Dainty in 1976

Hull's Emu act was best known for the attacks his puppet launched against celebrities during guest appearances and their own BBC series Emu's Broadcasting Company.

His victims included Michael Parkinson, Snoop Dogg and the Queen Mother.

Hull died in 1999 after falling off the roof of his cottage while adjusting his TV aerial. He was 63 years old.

Orville and Emu go on sale at Bonhams on 17 December.

The auction house says the Emu on sale is "the original puppet owned and used by Rod Hull during his television and stage career" and was acquired from his estate in the early 2000s.

The Orville puppet was acquired from Keith Harris in the early 2000s and is described as "an original puppet owned and used" by the ventriloquist during his career.

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