Captain Birdseye, also known as Captain Iglo, is the advertising mascot for the Birds Eye (known as Iglo in parts of Europe) frozen food brand founded by Clarence Birdseye. Appearing in numerous television and billboard commercials, he has been played or modeled by various actors and is generally depicted as a clean living, older sailor with a white beard, dressed in merchant naval uniform and a white polo neck sweater and with a seafaring accent.
The mascot is a reference to the brand's extensive and well-known range of frozen seafood products, of which fish fingers is probably the most-widely known. Because the Birds Eye brand is marketed to families, many of the advertising campaigns feature Captain Birdseye as having a 'crew' composed mostly of children in the preteen to teenage age groups, encouraging brand loyalty from children and emphasizing to parents the convenience of serving the company's products. An advertising campaign in the UK in 2005 features Captain Birdseye categorically proclaiming that Birds Eye frozen ready-made meals contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, with obvious references to the products being healthy and nutritious to children.
The actor most associated with Captain Birdseye was John Hewer, who played the character from 1967 to 1998. His tenure was interrupted by a hiatus in 1971, when the fictitious Captain was killed off by Birdseye, with an "obituary" in The Times announcements section:
Birdseye, Captain. On June 7th, 1971, after long exposure, life just slipped through his fingers. Celebrity and gourmet. Mourned by Sea-Cook Jim and the Commodore, in recognition of his selfless devotion to the nutritional needs of the nation’s children.
Birdseye decided to resurrect the character three years later, on 22 July 1974, to bolster its brand against rising competition and rising prices resulting from the Cod Wars. Hewer was brought back to portray the Captain, who soon recaptured his popularity with children. In 1993, he was named in a poll as the most recognizable captain on the planet after Captain Cook.
In 1998 Captain Birdseye became a much younger, rugged, dark-haired man with designer stubble and a miniature submarine, who indulged in far more action-packed adventures accompanied by his pet pelican named Jess. This version played by Thomas Pescod did not last long however, and the old version soon returned, played by Martyn Reid from 2002 until 2007. From 2008 until his death in 2012 German taxi driver Gerd Deutschmann played the captain. From early 2016 to late 2016 the captain was played by Mitch Commins, followed by Denis Parlato from mid 2016 to early 2017. Mark Fletcher took over the role in 2017 until early 2018, when Italian-born actor and seafarer Riccardo Acerbi was cast as Captain Birdseye in a £8m revamp of the brand and character in January 2018. The new Captain's "rugged good looks" were a huge hit with the British press.
Captain Birds Eye portrayed through the years.
- 1967 - 1998: John Hewer
- 1998 - 2001: Thomas Pescod
- 2002 - 2007: Martyn Reid
- 2008 - 2012: Gerd Deutschmann
- Early 2016 - late 2016: Mitch Commins
- Mid 2016 - early 2017: Denis Parlato
- 2017 - 2018: Mark Fletcher
- 2018- : Riccardo Acerbi
- In the UK television sitcom Only Fools and Horses, Derek Trotter once mockingly called Uncle Albert "Captain Birdseye", in reference to their similar appearances and Uncle Albert's naval past.
- The Goodies parodied the adverts as 'Captain Fishface', ending with a note saying "Captain Fishface has your children. If you want them back send 2000 wrappers from Fishface Cod Pieces, but make it quick (after all...ye don't know what goes into my rissoles, do ye?...)"
- Spoofs of the Birds Eye commercials featuring "Captain Fishy, the man with the fishy fingers" were featured by DJ Steve Wright on his BBC Radio 1 programme in the UK in the early 1990s.
- The Italian comedic heavy metal band Nanowar of Steel recorded a song called "Der Fluch des Kapt’n Iglo," featuring a humorous interpretation of the mascot's adventures, which will be featured on their upcoming album, "Italian Folk Metal."
In Germany he is known as "Käpt'n Iglo", in France, Belgium, and The Netherlands as "Captain Iglo" (the word "captain" being in English), in Portugal as "Capitão Iglo", in Italy as "Capitan Findus", and in Greece as Kaptain Iglo (Κάπταιν Ίγκλο).
- Strange, Hannah (19 March 2008). "John Hewer, original Captain Birdseye, dies aged 86". The Times. Retrieved 20 November 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Captain Birds Eye actor dies, 86". BBC News. 18 March 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Fishing for a Dutch Captain Iglo". Retrieved Apr 24, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Introducing the new Captain Iglo!". Alpha Actors. Retrieved Apr 24, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Burford, by Rachael; 10:04, 8 Jan 2018Updated14:08 (Jan 8, 2018). "New Captain Birdseye has been unveiled - and this time he's younger and hunkier". mirror. Retrieved Apr 24, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Guardian Staff (Jan 9, 2018). "Hello, sailor! Why everyone's swooning over the new Captain Birds Eye". Retrieved Apr 24, 2019 – via www.theguardian.com. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "June | 2011 | Jumble Sale Frenzy!". Retrieved Apr 24, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Captain Birds Eye's 'salt-and-pepper' look revealed". Jan 9, 2018. Retrieved Apr 24, 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Farquhar, Simon (20 March 2008). "Obituary: John Hewer". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)