I was very sad to learn of the passing of a great British talent recently – Orville, the green duck who wished he could fly. I guess technically the duck was never really alive, so can’t really have died – entertainer and ventriloquist Keith Harris is the true loss here, but I’m finiding it hard to mourn the man when it was his creation that was such a big part of my childhood.
I suspect if you’re not British, you’ll have no idea who Keith Harris is, or Orville. You’ve probably never experienced what it’s like to hear Orville taunted by Harris’s other character, Cuddles the monkey, whose catchphrase was “I hate that duck”. For the uninitiated, Orville was a young and naive green duck in an oversized nappy who seemingly had only one goal in life – to fly. In truth, that wasn’t the only thing the character aspired to, but Orville’s simplistic wish when captured in song became the defacto message that has lived with the character ever since.
If you’ve never heard Orville’s Song, or ‘I Wish I Could Fly’ as it is often referred to, now is the time to watch it sung by its stars over on Youtube:
If Orville made you smile, you should definitely check out Keith and Orville’s Quack Chat Show too!
As much affection as I have for Orville and Cuddles, I do hope that Harris’s passing is the end of the line for both characters. It’s been fun watching them show up in the decades following their creation but both characters need their master to breathe life into them and anyone who tries to mimic what Harris was so good at can only be destined for failure.
R.I.P. Keith, Orville and Cuddles.