Shaun the Sheep has been named the most popular BBC children's character of the last seven decades, beating off competition from Postman Pat and Sooty and Sweep in a poll by Radio Times.
The woolly stop-animation star, whose vocal range is limited to bleats and baas, first appeared in Nick Park's 1995 Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit adventure A Close Shave before landing his very own spin-off CBBC show in 2007.
Now living with his flock on Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun is smarter than the average sheep and spends his time attempting to add excitement to their lives. He has featured in 130 seven-minute episodes broadcast in 170 territories around the world, and has collected two International Emmys and a Children’s Bafta. Meanwhile, Shaun the Sheep the Movie is currently in production at Park's Aardman studio.
Richard Starzak, creator of Shaun the Sheep, said: ”I’m chuffed, flattered and delighted, on behalf of everyone who has worked on Shaun the Sheep, for this honour. Many BBC animated characters were a big and important part of my childhood. It’s amazing to think that Shaun will be part of so many people’s happy memories. I’m so grateful to the readers of the Radio Times for voting for Shaun. You’ve made me very happy!”
Shaun picked up the most votes from a shortlist of 50 of the nation's best-loved BBC children's characters, as chosen by Radio Times and the British Film Institute. In second place was 1980s favourite Postman Pat – who recently made his own big screen debut – followed by 60 year old puppets Sooty and Sweep, who proved the most popular characters from the 1950s.
Over 40,000 votes were cast as Radio Times readers chose their favourites from each of the last seven decades. The stars of the Magic Roundabout topped the 1960s poll, Paddington Bear was the favourite 1970s character and Bob the Builder was the 1990s winner.
The top ten most-voted for characters also included the denizens of Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley, Pingu, Willo the Wisp and The Wombles.
Radio Times editor Ben Preston said: “The huge response to our poll shows how dearly we cherish our television memories of childhood. Every generation has a favourite which lingers for a lifetime. Our winner, Shaun the Sheep, will be remembered in 50 years’ time, just as the children of the 80s voted for Postman Pat, and Sooty and Sweep remain hugely popular almost 60 years after they were first broadcast. It's a testament to the enduring quality of British children's television that a contemporary character topped the poll in a shortlist filled with classic programmes from the last seven decades.”
The poll was inspired by a new exhibition, Here’s One We Made Earlier, which opens in The Lowry in Salford on Saturday 19 July. Running until 12 October, it will explore the story of BBC Children's broadcasting of over 90 years, from 1922, when the BBC launched Children's Hour, right up to the present multi-media age.
The ten most popular BBC children's characters
1. Shaun the Sheep (2007)
2. Postman Pat (1981)
3. Sooty and Sweep (1955)
4. The Magic Roundabout (1965)
5. Bob the Builder (1998)
6. Paddington Bear (1975)
7. Camberwick Green (1966), Trumpton (1967), Chigley (1969)
8. Pingu (1986)
9. Willo the Wisp (1981)
10. The Wombles (1973)
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