BBC children’s television services are currently partly introduced and hosted by a dog by the name of Hacker, who is as big a celebrity as his human counterparts. Hacker has inhabited the CBBC studio since 1999, been given his own show (Hacker Time) and outlasted several human presenters. But Hacker is the not the first puppet animal to inhabit CBBC. Oh no. Anyone alive during the 90s will fondly remember Edd the Duck. With his green mohican, and dressed in any number of bizarre costumes (the BBC even had him in a full dinner jacket ensemble at one point), Edd was a force to be reckoned with.
Being a duck, he did a lot of quacking, but couldn’t actually speak. This meant a human counterpart was essential for Edd to work as a presenter. Unlike Hacker, who is quite capable of introducing a show independently, his distinctly Wigan-accented voice booming out from our television screens, Edd the Duck could not tell audiences watching at home that a hotly anticipated episode of Byker Grove was about to begin. He required someone (usually Andy Crane or Andi Peters) to let the audiences know about the schedule. But Edd was not a duck without personality, oh no.
Furry yellow friend
Through the medium of quacks, Edd developed real attitude, and no-one could tell him what to do. Manipulated by BBC producer Christina Mackay Robinson, and limited to a small number of movements such as head nodding and shaking, Edd nevertheless managed to get his point across perfectly, and could convey a range of emotions such as anger, amusement or delight (as long as Andy or Andi were primed to ‘interpret’ his mood accurately.) His relationship with both his co-presenters generally alternated between affection and aggravation, but both the ‘Andys’ genuinely seemed to adore their furry yellow friend.
Viewers loved the Broom Cupboard and all those who resided in it, and its inhabitants eventually felt like friends. Edd was funny and really appealed to children of the 90s, perhaps annoying the adults who endured his constant quacking each day as their children stared goggle -eyed at their favourite Children’s BBC programme, but all the while grateful that Edd was helping to keep their little darlings quiet.
Of course Edd had a nemesis. A character who audiences were never quite as fond of (probably due to the fact that he had little personality). Wilson the butler was simply a disembodied arm which would hand things to the Andys when required. This ingenious second creation meant that Edd himself had no need for working arms, and allowed for the timely introduction of relevant props. But Edd often disagreed with whatever Wilson did, and this resulted in even more laughs for the Children’s BBC audience.
“He’s…one funky mallard!
An interesting moment came for Edd when he forayed into pop stardom in 1990 with a tune by the name of Awesome Dood. Allegedly encouraged by pop princess of the time Sonia, Edd had a brief moment of glory in the charts. He even gained a voice for the first time in the song and did some rapping! Yes – a rapping duck. Sadly, it would be a challenge for even the most avid 90s fan to remember the tune. Perhaps that part of Edd’s career is best forgotten.
Edd’s fame grew throughout the 90s, when he couldn’t be spotted by a child without being hotly pursued for an autograph he couldn’t actually sign (remember the lack of arm movement?) He became the official mascot for Team GB in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, an accolade few puppets can boast about. He also proved himself to be a very versatile duck, appearing on other classic 90s television shows like Noel’s House Party 1993. Yes – those who didn’t like Edd had the pleasure of seeing him be gunged alongside Andi Peters. Cruel but funny.
30 years of Children’s BBC
And just for fun, for those who claim Edd the Duck is a 90s relic, the friendly duck appeared on our screens again much more recently, linked to the celebrations over CBBC’s 30th birthday. Reuniting with his old pal Andi Peters, Edd can be seen ‘Doing the Strictly’ in a knitted jumper with his name on it. Cool he is not, but Edd is alive and well, and many fans enjoyed seeing him in the Broom Cupboard again just like the good old days.
He may have been replaced by a Yorkshire Terrier with a Wigan accent, but our beloved Edd the Duck will still live on the hearts of many a 90s fan.