Shaun the Sheep

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Shaun the Sheep
Shaun the Sheep.PNG
Genre Animated family comedy
Created by Nick Park
Developed by Richard Goleszowski
Alison Snowden
David Fine
Directed by Richard Goleszowski
Christopher Sadler
Voices of John Sparkes
Justin Fletcher
Kate Harbour
Richard Webber
Jo Allen
Theme music composer Mark Thomas
Opening theme "Life's a Treat", performed by Vic Reeves
Ending theme "Life's a Treat (Whistling, Instrumental Version)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 130 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)

Miles Bullough
David Sproxton
Peter Lord
Nick Park

Michael Carrington
Producer(s) Julie Lockhart, Gareth Owen
Running time 7 minutes
Production company(s) Aardman Animations
BBC
Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Broadcast
Original channel CBBC, BBC
Picture format 16:9 Widescreen PAL (576i) (2007)
16:9 HDTV (1080i) (2009–10, 2013–)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original run 5 March 2007 (2007-03-05)  – present
Chronology
Related shows A Close Shave
Timmy Time
External links
Website

Shaun the Sheep is a British stop-motion animated spin-off of the Wallace and Gromit franchise, starring the sheep character of the same name from A Close Shave. The show follows Shaun, now the leader of his flock, on madcap adventures around a small farm. It first aired in the UK on CBBC in March 2007 and has been broadcast in 180 countries around the world. It currently consists of 130 seven-minute episodes and is in its fourth series.

The show has also inspired its own spin-off, Timmy Time, which follows the adventures of Shaun's small cousin and is aimed at younger viewers. A feature-length film based on Shaun the Sheep is scheduled to be released in 2015.

Plot[edit]

The series revolves around the adventures of Shaun the unusually bright sheep, now living with his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm, a traditional small northern British farm. In each episode, their latest attempt to add excitement to their mundane life as livestock somehow snowballs into a fantastic sitcom-style escapade, most often with the help of their fascination with human doings and devices. This usually brings them into conflict--and occasionally into partnership--with the grumpy sheepdog Bitzer, while they all are simultaneously trying to avoid discovery by the Farmer.

Production[edit]

The show was produced by Aardman Animations, and commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)[1] and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), a constituent member of the consortium of German public-broadcasting institutions, ARD. It has aired on CBBC in the UK from 2007 onward.

Each seven-minute episode is entirely shot in Aardman's distinctive stop-motion animation style. The comedic tone is a combination of slapstick and classic silent comedy, similar to that used in the Wallace & Gromit shorts. In this series there is no spoken dialogue at all, even from the human characters; simple grunts, bleats, sighs, mutterings and similar wordless inflections are all used to indicate each character's moods and motives. There are also no readable words in any episode, although "Bitzer" can be seen on a dog bowl, and--starting in series three--"Mossy Bottom Farm" on a gate, in the original English-language title sequence.

Shaun the Sheep's first appearance was in Wallace & Gromit's third short feature, the Academy Award winning A Close Shave, as the youngest member of a flock of sheep Wallace and Gromit work to save from being turned into dog food. He was named Shaun as a pun on the word "shorn" after he was accidentally subjected to Wallace's automated sheep shearing machine. This early version of Shaun shows a hint of his characteristic human-like bravado—among other things, wearing a sweater knitted from his own shorn wool—and he proves to be a major help in saving the day.

At the end of this short, Shaun and the entire flock are seen living with the duo; Shaun later made a brief cameo appearance in the "Shopper 13" episode of Wallace & Gromit's "Cracking Contraptions" web series. No official explanation has been given for the flock's later transfer to the farm.

Characters[edit]

Series director Richard Goleszowski at Canterbury's Anifest 2008 with models of a generic sheep, Bitzer, Timmy, and Shaun.

Major characters[edit]

  • Shaun is the protagonist of the series and, despite being the smallest of them all, the leader of the flock. He is a clever, confident sheep, prone to mischief but equally adept at getting himself and/or his friends out of it. As there is no dialogue, like all the sheep he communicates entirely through bleating, and often explains his ideas to the flock by drawing diagrams on a blackboard. He has a good friendship with Bitzer, though this does not stop him from playing pranks on him at times.
  • Bitzer is the farmer's loyal, long-suffering sheepdog, dressed for work in a blue knit cap, black collar, knitted wristlet and large official-looking wrist-watch, carrying a clipboard and walking upright or on all fours as needed. He communicates, canine-fashion, via barks, growls, and the occasional whimper. Despite a tendency to be caught out listening to music, he takes his job very seriously, to the point of occasionally letting his power go to his head. He is however a generally a good friend to Shaun and does his best to keep the whole flock out of trouble.
  • Shirley is the largest member of the flock. A gentle giant, she is usually seen placidly eating, though she's intimidating enough to have defended Shaun from Pidsley the cat. She's so big that large objects routinely disappear into (or are deliberately hidden in) her fleece, and she quite often gets stuck herself, needing the other sheep to push, pull or even sling-shot her out of trouble. However, her size can also come in very handy when what's needed is a battering ram or similarly immovable object.
  • Timmy, Shaun's cousin, is the flock's only lamb, and thus often the innocent center of the chaos. He appears to be a toddler in this series, and is often seen sucking a pacifier. The spinoff series Timmy Time chronicles his later adventures in preschool.
  • Timmy's Mother, Shaun's aunt, wears curlers in her topknot and is a bit careless about maternal duties, even using Timmy once as a makeshift paint brush. But when her offspring goes astray, she is inconsolable until he is safely back in her care.
  • The Flock, like typical sheep, tend to follow Shaun and one another, are obedient to orders and generally form one big happy if sometimes fractious family group. Unlike Shaun, however, they are not particularly bright, which becomes a problem when combined with their ongoing fascination with the human world. It's usually Shaun and Bitzer who sort out the resulting mess.
  • The Farmer is a bespectacled, balding man who runs the farm with Bitzer at his side and acts as the flock's primary if unwitting nemesis. His livestock's main concern is to ensure he remains completely oblivious to their unusual sentience, a task made easier by his conventional, unobservant nature but complicated by his enthusiasm for picking up new hobbies. He does not speak intelligibly, but can be heard frequently making wordless noises or muttering under his breath just audibly enough for the viewer to pick up on his meaning. His disastrous attempts at dating are a running joke of the series.
  • The Naughty Pigs, whose pen is adjacent to the sheepfold, are bullies to Shaun and his flock, always trying to antagonise them and get them into trouble. They are, however, scared of Bitzer (though they still take the chance to bully him whenever possible), and they get told off by the Farmer in "Pig Trouble".
  • Pidsley is the Farmer's enormous yellow cat, a minor character in series 1 and a major antagonist in series 2. He desires to be the sole recipient of the Farmer's attention, and thus is jealous of Bitzer. He also dislikes the sheep, thinking of them as stupid and beneath him.

Other recurring characters[edit]

  • Mower Mouth the Goat, who first appears in the episode of the same name, is an unstoppable eating machine. While not an unfriendly character, all his considerable energy is focused on his next meal. He thus routinely causes trouble for Shaun and the flock, as also seen in "Shaun the Farmer" and "Saturday Night Shaun".
  • The Bull is belligerent, powerful, and easily provoked by Shaun’s antics and the colour red. He appears in "The Bull", "Saturday Night Shaun", "Who's the Mummy?" and "Heavy Metal Shaun".
  • The Ducks make frequent appearances. In the first series, a single duck suffers collateral damage due to Shaun’s exploits in "Off the Baa!", "Tidy Up", and "Bath Time". Sometimes he is seen with his lady friends. In series two there are two ducks; in series three, they have once again been replaced with a single, pure white duck.
  • The Aliens appear in "Shaun Encounters", "The Visitor" and "Cat Got Your Brain" They are green and have one large eye on the top of the head. Despite their clearly advanced scientific technology--which frequently causes trouble for the farm animals--they exhibit human-like behaviour and generally jovial personalities.
  • The Granny is a short-tempered, short-sighted old lady, appearing in "Takeaway" and "Save the Tree". She also appears in "Two's Company", holding a cart and "The Big Chase", forcing the pigs to give her a lift in their car. She is renowned for hitting people (or animals) with her handbag when they annoy her.
  • The Pizza Delivery Boy is a young man who rides a moped (which Bitzer often "borrows" to chase after the sheep) and works in the local pizzeria. He also moonlights as a postman in "Saturday Night Shaun".
  • The Farmer's Girlfriend appears for the first time in Series 2. She appears to be adventurous and an animal lover, patting Bitzer and Shaun and offering food to Timmy.

Episodes[edit]

The first two series consisted of 40 seven-minute episodes each, and the third 20 episodes. The fourth series debuted on 3 February 2014.[2] A series of 15 1-minute 3D shorts were released on Nintendo's Video service for the Nintendo 3DS between March and June 2012.[3] Another series of 21 1-minute sports-themed shorts, named Championsheeps, aired on CBBC during the Summer of 2012.[4]

Series Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 40 5 March 2007 (2007-03-05) 14 September 2007 (2007-09-14)
2 40 23 November 2009 (2009-11-23) 17 December 2010 (2010-12-17)
3 20 25 February 2013 (2013-02-25) 21 March 2013 (2013-03-21)
4 20 3 February 2014 (2014-02-03) 21 April 2014 (2014-04-21)
5 20 17 September 2014 (2014-09-17) N/A

References to popular culture[edit]

As with the series' parent show Wallace and Gromit, there are many allusions to other aspects of popular culture. These include:

  • Shirley's training in the episode "Shape Up with Shaun" is based on the film Rocky.
  • The paintings parodied in "Still Life" include the Mona Lisa and Constable's The Hay Wain.
  • In "Buzz Off Bees", the Farmer appears in his hooded beekeepers outfit, with accompanying Darth Vader-style heavy breathing.
  • The infamous shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is spoofed in the episode "The Little Sheep of Horrors", whose name is itself based on the film and play The Little Shop of Horrors.
  • In "Hiccups", Shaun turns his guitar amplifier up to 11 in a reference to a scene in This Is Spinal Tap.
  • In "Fleeced", the sheep break out and accompanying music is very reminiscent of British World War II prisoner of war films (e.g., The Great Escape)
  • In "The Visitor", the alien thrashes his car with a tree branch à la Basil Fawlty.
  • In "Mountains out of Molehills" a sheep is reading a magazine called "Bleat", a spoof of celebrity gossip magazine "Heat". In the same episode, Shaun tries to catch a mole with a fishing rod and line. When the first "bite" is shown, the first two notes of the Jaws theme are played.
  • Near the end of "Off the Baa", the "Nessun Dorma" theme from Puccini's opera Turandot is used, which was the musical theme of the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
  • At the end of "Mower Mouth" the shrubs are clearly reminiscent of those in Edward Scissorhands.
  • In "Saturday Night Shaun" Shaun rips off his coat and tosses it away as he is dancing, only to have tossed back. This is reminiscent of the scene in the 1980 movie Airplane!, where Robert Hays tosses his white sport-coat away, only to have it tossed back in his face.
  • in "Party Animals", one of the sheep is dressed as a crude version of a Dalek trying to get up some stairs but failing because of the suit.
  • in "Bitzer from the Black Lagoon", Shaun cannot start the farmers truck and hits his head on the horn to get it started. This is a reference to Back to the Future.
  • in "Zebra Ducks of the Serengeti", the Farmer's signpost over the gate falls over Bitzer - à la Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr.
  • in "An Ill Wind", when the power supply to the farmhouse blows up, the Farmer grabs an axe and chops his wind turbine in a similar fashion to The Shining

Reception[edit]

Reviews of the series were consistently positive. Harry Venning of "The Stage" found "characterisation charming and the animation superb. All this before even a mention of how funny and splendidly slapstick the script is."[5] The Guardian noted that the series "hits the four-to-seven-year-old age group smack in the eye."[6] Gareth Owen, the producer of the series, said Shaun the Sheep is aimed at viewers “aged four to seven, though in reality, the age range is four to 87", as the series became popular among all different age-groups.[7]
Charles Arthur wrote "classic Aardman style that leaves me laughing out loud."[8]

Adaptations and spin-offs[edit]

Film[edit]

Aardman is developing a feature film Shaun the Sheep,[9] written and directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, will be financed by French StudioCanal, and will be released on March 20, 2015.[10]

Timmy Time[edit]

Main article: Timmy Time

Beginning in 2009, Aardman Animations produced this spin-off CBeebies series aimed at pre-schoolers, based on Timmy's own small adventures as he attends preschool for the first time and learns how to interact with a variety of young animal friends.[11]

Video games[edit]

On 16 June 2008, D3 Publisher of America, which had previously published a game based on Aardman's 2006 film Flushed Away, announced that it would also release a video game based on Shaun's escapades. The Shaun the Sheep game was developed by Art Co., Ltd exclusively for Nintendo DS, and was released in autumn 2008.[12]

A second game for Nintendo DS, named Shaun the Sheep: Off His Head, was released on 23 October 2009, exclusively in Europe.[13]

The Shaun the Sheep web site is also home to several Flash-based games, including Home Sheep Home,[14] which is also available at the iOS App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.[15]

Theatre[edit]

On 9 March 2011 Shaun the Sheep made its live theatre début in Shaun's Big Show.[16] The 100-minute long musical/dance show features all the regular characters, including Bitzer, Shirley and Timmy.

Promotional[edit]

On 26 September 2013, the International Rugby Board and Aardman Animations announced that Shaun and other characters from the franchise would be used in a merchandising programme to promote the 2015 Rugby World Cup to children.[17]

DVDs[edit]

Region 2 (Europe)[edit]

  • Off the Baa! (12 November 2007): Off the Baa! / Timmy in a Tizzy / Buzz Off Bees / Things That Go Bump / Mower Mouth / Fleeced / Shaun Shoots the Sheep / Mountains out of Molehills
  • Shape Up with Shaun (17 November 2007): Shape Up with Shaun / Bathtime / Fetching / Take Away / Still Life / Scrumping / Little Sheep of Horrors / The Kite
  • Shaun the Sheep Box Set (12 November 2007): Off the Baa! / Timmy in a Tizzy / Buzz Off Bees / Things That Go Bump / Mower Mouth / Fleeced / Shaun Shoots the Sheep / Mountains out of Molehills / Shape Up with Shaun / Bathtime / Fetching / Take Away / Still Life / Scrumping / Little Sheep of Horrors / The Kite
  • Saturday Night Shaun (10 March 2008): Saturday Night Shaun / Stick with Me / Shaun the Farmer / Sheep on the Loose / Tidy Up / Snore-Worn Shaun / Camping Chaos / If You Can’t Stand the Heat
  • Abracadabra (20 October 2008): Abracadabra / The Bull / Who's the Mummy? / Hiccups / Heavy Metal Shaun / Troublesome Tractor / Sheepwalking / Save the Tree
  • Wash Day (17 November 2008) Wash Day / Tooth Fairy / The Farmer's Niece / The Visitor / Helping Hound / Big Top Timmy / Bitzer Puts His Foot in It / Shaun Encounters
  • Shaun the Sheep – The Complete First Series (17 November 2008) (Letterbox/Widescreen)
  • Spring Lamb (29 March 2010): Spring Lamb / Sheepless Nights / Bagpipe Buddy / Party Animals / Strictly No Dancing / Draw the Line / Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow / Who’s the Caddy? / Cheetah Cheater / Everything Must Go
  • Two's Company (6 September 2010): Two's Company / Double Trouble / Bitzer's New Hat / Everything Must Go / In the Doghouse / Ewe've Been Framed / Hide and Squeak / Frantic Romantic
  • Party Animals (8 November 2010): Party Animals / What’s Up, Dog? / Cock-a-Doodle-Shaun / Cat Got Your Brain / Chip Off the Old Block / Pig Trouble / Cheetah Cheater / Draw the Line
  • The Big Chase (4 April 2011): The Big Chase / An Ill Wind / Bitzer from the Black Lagoon / Zebra Ducks of The Serengeti / The Boat / Bitzer’s Basic Training / The Magpie / Operation Pidsley
  • We Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas (3 October 2011): We Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas / Snowed In / Whistleblower / Pig Swill Fly / Shirley Whirley / Foxy Laddie / Shaun Goes Potty / Fireside Favourite
  • Shaun the Sheep – The Complete Second Series (3 October 2011)
  • Spring Cleaning (7 April 2014): The Shepherd / Hard to Swallow / Bye Bye Barn / The Skateboard / The Rabbit / The Stand Off / The Coconut / You Missed a Bit / Let's Spray (exclusive to DVD) / The Crow

Region 1 (U.S. and Canada)[edit]

  • Off the Baa! (11 November 2008): Off The Baa! / Timmy In A Tizzy / Buzz Off Bees / Things That Go Bump / Mower Mouth / Fleeced / Shaun Shoots The Sheep / Mountains Out Of Molehills
  • Back in the Ba-a-ath (10 February 2009): Shape Up with Shaun / Bathtime / Fetching / Take Away / Still Life / Scrumping / Stick With Me / The Kite
  • Sheep on the Loose (9 June 2009): Sheep on the Loose / Saturday Night Shaun / Tidy Up / Shaun the Farmer / Camping Chaos / If You Can't Stand the Heat
  • Little Sheep of Horrors (1 September 2009): Little Sheep of Horrors / Abracadabra / Things That Go Bump / Heavy Metal Shaun / Troublesome Tractor / Sheepwalking
  • A Wooly Good Time (16 February 2010): Washday / Tooth Fairy / The Farmer's Niece / Snore-Worn Shaun / Helping Hound / Big Top Timmy
  • One Giant Leap for Lambkind (8 June 2010): Shaun Encounters / The Bull / Hiccups / Bitzer Puts His Foot In It / Save The Tree / The Visitor
  • Party Animals (7 September 2010): Double Trouble / Strictly No Dancing / Party Animals / Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow / Pig Swill Fly / Shaun Goes Potty / Operation Pidsley
  • Shaun the Sheep: Season 1 (19 October 2010) (Full Screen)[18]
  • Spring Shena-a-anigans (25 January 2011): Spring Lamb / Supersize Timmy / Bagpipe Buddy / Cheetah Chaser / Lock Out / Draw the Line / Ewe've Been Framed
  • The Big Chase (19 April 2011): The Big Chase / Bitzer from the Black Lagoon / Zebra Ducks of the Serengeti / Bitzer's Basic Training / The Magpie / The Boat / Hide and Squeak
  • Animal Antics (26 July 2011): Foxy Laddie / Whistleblower / Frantic Romantic / Who's the Caddy / Everything Must Go / In the Doghouse / Cock-a-Doodle Shaun
  • We Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas (18 October 2011) We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas / Snowed In / Fireside Favorite / An Ill Wind / Bitzer's New Hat / Chip Off the Old Block / Shirley Whirley
  • Shaun the Sheep: Season 2 (15 November 2011) (Widescreen)[19]
  • Shear Madness (April 17, 2012): Pig Trouble / Sheepless Nights / Party Animals / Cat’s Got Your Brain / Two’s Company? / What’s Up, Dog? / Draw the Line

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Carrington Commissions Shaun". by Rick DeMott (AWN News). 19 October 2005. 
  2. ^ "CBBC - Schedules, Monday 3 February 2014". BBC. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Shaun the Sheep 3D shorts coming to Nintendo Video". GAME. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  4. ^ "Shaun The Sheep Championsheeps". BBC. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 12 September.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ TV Review The Stage. Harry Venning. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2007
  6. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy (6 March 2007). Last Night's TV. The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  7. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6617069/The-painstaking-production-of-Shaun-the-Sheep.html
  8. ^ Charles Arthur (20 March 2007). Roll over, Pixar – Shaun the Sheep’s here to tickle your funny bone CharlesArthur.com. Retrieved 3 April 2007.
  9. ^ "Aardman Animations plan new Shaun the Sheep film". BBC Online. 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2011-04-28. 
  10. ^ Jardine, William (2013-08-08). "Aardman News: Shaun the Sheep Movie Coming March 2015". A113Animation. Retrieved 2013-09-24. 
  11. ^ Loveday, Samantha. "Timmy Tales". Licensing.biz. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  12. ^ Remo, Chris (2008-06-16). "D3 Announces Coraline And Shaun The Sheep Adaptations". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  13. ^ "Shaun the Sheep: Off His Head". GameSpot. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Shaun the Sheep Flash game". 
  15. ^ "Shaun the Sheep iOS game". 
  16. ^ BWW News Desk (2011-02-22). "SHAUN'S BIG SHOW Debuts at Stoke-on-Trent's Regent Theatre, Mar. 9 -13". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2011-04-28. 
  17. ^ "Shaun the Sheep joins RWC 2015 flock" (Press release). International Rugby Board. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "Shaun the Sheep: Season 1". Amazon. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "Shaun the Sheep: Season 2". Amazon. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 

External links[edit]