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|Created by||Cosgrove Hall|
|Directed by||Carlos Alfonso
|Narrated by||Barry Clayton|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||65 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||John Hambley|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Original release||6 September 1988– 16 February 1993|
Count Duckula is a British animated comedy-drama dark fantasy television series created by British studio Cosgrove Hall as a spin-off from Danger Mouse, a series in which the Count Duckula character was a recurring villain. Count Duckula premiered for four series from 6 September 1988 to 16 February 1993, and was produced by Thames Television. In all, 65 episodes were made, each about 22 minutes long. All have been released on DVD in the U.K., while only the first series has been released in North America.
- 1 History
- 2 Spin-offs
- 3 Plot
- 4 Voice cast
- 5 Characters
- 6 Episode list
- 7 Home media
- 8 See also
- 9 Footnotes
- 10 External links
|This section is incomplete. (September 2015)|
Count Duckula was created by British studio Cosgrove Hall as a spin-off from Danger Mouse. In 1984 Nickelodeon acquired the rights to Danger Mouse which became a hit for the channel. After a few years the Nickelodeon management came to Cosgrove Hall wishing to co-produce a new series. After being shown a number of ideas, the then head of Nickelodeon, Jenny Lebron, spotted a picture of Count Duckula in Brian Cosgrove's office, and said "that's the one I want". As the series went into production one of the writers suggested he become a vegetarian, which added an even sillier concept to the series.
Count Duckula appeared in North American comics under Star Comics (an imprint of Marvel Comics) and introduced an additional difference between this incarnation of Duckula which separated him from his predecessors. Due to ketchup being used in the resurrection ceremony, this version of Duckula has ketchup, rather than blood, flowing through his veins. This was discovered when Duckula was given a blood test in order to get a passport into a fictional country which produced a salad which Duckula was obsessed with getting to eat. In the same issue, Duckula, Nanny, and Igor were photographed as a means of formal ID for said country, however due to the classic stereotype of vampires not appearing in film, Duckula did not appear in the photo which was taken. Duckula would also gain a romantic interest in the Star Comics run; Vanna Von Goosewing, who turned out to be the niece of his long time adversary Dr. Von Goosewing. The attraction was mutual, and the two continued their relationship though the majority of the series after their introduction, though Vanna didn't always appear in every issue of the book.
Several episodes explore the theme that each resurrection creates a new incarnation with little to no memory of its past life, the immediate past incarnation referred to as the current's "father". Thus, every incarnation is free to develop its own personality and pursue its own personal interests. The vampire is able to pose as a "dreadful dynasty, the counts of Duckula". The preceding generations included knights, sorcerers, scientists, artists, Egyptologists and even professional gamblers, all of whom are also secretly "vicious vampire ducks".
However, as the title sequence puts it, "the latest reincarnation did not run according to plan". The successful conclusion of the ritual requires blood (a send-up of the Hammer Dracula films), the source of sustenance for any vampire, but Nanny accidentally substitutes tomato ketchup. Consequently, the newest version is not a blood-sucking vampire, but a vegetarian one. He is more interested in juicy carrots than hunting for victims. Igor is appalled. Even worse, his "new" master is obsessed with pursuing wealth and fame as an entertainer.
The stories often centre around Duckula's adventures in search of riches and fame, assisted by the castle's ability to teleport around the world. Another regularly occurring theme is the repeated attempt by Igor to turn Duckula into a proper vampire. Some episodes feature Duckula's nemesis Doctor Von Goosewing (based on Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, the nemesis of Dracula), a vampire hunter who blindly refuses to believe the current incarnation of Duckula is harmless. There is also an array of bizarre, often supernatural foes, from zombies to mechanical werewolves. Another feature of the show is a cuckoo clock whose bat-like Russian-accented characters come out and make jokes about the current situation (or corny jokes in general). The clock is also a vital part of the castle's travelling mechanism, and even has the ability to turn back time.
A series of annuals and monthly comics further detailing the adventures of Count Duckula and associated characters were released throughout the time that the series originally aired and for a short time afterwards.
- Count Duckula: David Jason
- Igor: Jack May
- Nanny/Dimitri: Brian Trueman
- Dr. Von Goosewing/Sviatoslav: Jimmy Hibbert
- Narrator: Barry Clayton
- Various other characters: Barry Clayton, Jimmy Hibbert, David Jason, Jack May, Brian Trueman and Ruby Wax
- Theme song vocalists: Doreen Edwards and Mike Harding
Duckula (full title: Count Duckula the 17th,) is a short green duck with black parted hair and the traditional vampire evening wear, and speaks with an American accent, despite being voiced by a British actor. He is egotistical and selfish, but Duckula is good natured, often trying to help people. He has no fangs, His favourite food, as a vegetarian, is broccoli sandwiches. He occasionally has been seen wearing pyjamas with a Danger Mouse logo, a reference to the character's origin. The Duckula family motto is Per ardua ad sanguina, which means "work hard for blood".
He has a very modern outlook, and often despairs over the traditional vampire image he is expected to embody. He hates living in a dark, gloomy castle, and finds the behaviour of his servants to be depressing. Duckula frequently expresses frustration with Igor's attempts to change him back into a proper vampire and his lecturing Duckula as a disgrace and disappointment to the Duckula lineage. Although he retains some vampiric powers and qualities (such as teleportation and an image invisible to mirrors), he also possesses a lesser power, seen only once, which is the ability to create a lightning flash when angry. He often goes outside in the daytime without suffering any ill effects, but this is likely because of his not being a full "traditional" vampire, which do not do so as a result of the 1922 film Nosferatu, which introduced the idea that sunlight destroyed vampires into modern interpretations of vampires and vampirism in general. It may also be a reference to the fact that Dracula, whom the character is based on, was able to move about by daylight in the original novel, though with his powers reduced or rendered nonexistent until the sun set. In the episode "Doctor Goosewing and Mr. Duck", Count Duckula briefly turns into a "proper" vampire, desiring blood from the villagers outside the castle, but he turns away from the door when he discovers that the sun is still out.
Although he is often egotistical and selfish, Duckula is good natured, often trying to help people, although he usually succeeds only in making them hate him. He is prone to short-lived obsessions, often forming the plots for episodes, such as attempting to become a blues musician in New Orleans, prospecting for gold, or becoming a cowboy or performer.
The character differs considerably from his predecessor on the Danger Mouse series. In fact, the only similarities, other than the name, is they are both vampire ducks with ambitions in show business with little actual talent. The previous version was an evil villain, willing to blackmail and force his way into stardom (as opposed to the current Count, who merely tries to get in the legitimate way) and was fixated on being a TV star, rather than settle for fame in some other branch of entertainment. He has far greater magical powers and makes much more use of them. He has a thick accent consisting of lisping, stuttering and occasional squawks. Most notably, he was not a vegetarian in the Danger Mouse version. In his very first appearance, he threatened to drink Danger Mouse's blood, only to be chased away by the sun. The Danger Mouse Duckula was destroyed and fell to ashes, resurrected during the 8th astronomical house of Aquarius. During his recent appearance in the 2015 reboot, the new Duckula is a mix of the original and the vegetarian version from his spin-off.
Marvel Comics (via their Star Comics imprint) produced a comic series based on Count Duckula, and introduced an additional difference between this incarnation of Duckula which separated him from his predecessors. Due to ketchup being used in the resurrection ceremony, this version of Duckula has ketchup, rather than blood, flowing through his veins. This was discovered when Duckula was given a blood test in order to get a passport into a fictional country which produced a salad which Duckula was obsessed with getting to eat. In the same issue, Duckula, Nanny, and Igor were photographed as a means of formal ID for said country, however due to the classic stereotype of vampires not appearing in film, Duckula did not appear in the photo which was taken. Duckula would also gain a romantic interest in the Star Comics run; Vanna Von Goosewing, who turned out to be the niece of his long time adversary Dr. Von Goosewing. The attraction was mutual, and the two continued their relationship though the majority of the series after their introduction, though Vanna did not always appear in every issue of the book.
Igor, the Count's butler, is a traditional horror servant based on the stock character Igor, and adds a decidedly dark streak to some of the show's humour. He greatly dislikes his master's behaviour, and often encourages him to act in a far more ghastly manner. Although he will generally obey Duckula's specific orders, he remains convinced that, if he could only talk Duckula into biting, maiming, torturing and otherwise brutalising people, he would return to the "good old days" of the previous counts who behaved more like evil vampires. Igor hates words such as "bless you," "nice," "good," and "lovely". Such words make him cringe, since he prefers the darker and more sinister side of life.
He is a hunched, balding vulture with a deep, slow voice. In the episode "Arctic Circles," he states that he has served for "seven-and-a-half centuries". If this is approximate of the 17 incarnations of Duckula, his age is probably 800+ years old, and he may have started his service to the Duckula family around the time of Count Duckula the 1st, or shortly afterwards.
Nanny, is Duckula's nanny, as well as housekeeper. She is an extremely large (in the episode "Alps-A-Daisy," it is revealed she is seven feet tall) and clumsy hen, possessing incredible strength and inevitably messing up whatever task she is set to do. She has a blind spot regarding doors, and often crashes through a door without opening it first, or (more commonly) walks right through the wall, especially a few feet off from the door's position. Not surprisingly, she is the one who mistakes ketchup for blood in Duckula's current resurrection. In the episode "Prime-Time Duck" her real name is revealed to be "Amnesia."
She is supremely unintelligent, and completely unreliable. She is devoted to her "Ducky-boos," as she calls Duckula, and has a deep maternal affection for him, although her clumsiness often inadvertently causes him harm. A recurring gag is her inability to understand what people around her are talking about. She often mixes up words and takes insult at conversations not directed at her. She is very ditzy and motherly, sometimes hugging Duckula so tightly she nearly suffocates him. In "Dr Goosewing and Mr Duck" when she accidentally drinks the carpet stain removal liquid created by Goosewing she becomes extremely intelligent.
Count Duckula's home is an archetypal Transylvanian castle with all the trimmings: dungeon, torture chamber, library of macabre texts, laboratory, and more. The castle is also home to an often referred-to, but never seen, werewolf named Towser, which Duckula does not believe exists (he often refers to it as "the werewolf we don't have"). The castle can teleport to any place on earth (and beyond), but returns automatically at dawn, "Eastern Transylvanian Standard Time". The teleportation is activated when Duckula enters an upright coffin while he states where he wants it to take him (often, he will have to come up with a rhyme to activate it properly). The controls to this device are inside an old-fashioned cuckoo clock that hangs on the wall, who have live two mechanical bats, Dmitri and Sviatoslav.
Dr. Von Goosewing
Dr. Von Goosewing is a mad scientist and vampire hunter, a spoof of Abraham Van Helsing. He is a goose that speaks in a German accent, and wears an outfit not unlike that of Sherlock Holmes. He pursues Count Duckula relentlessly, never able to comprehend that Duckula is actually completely harmless. He is a terrible scientist, often getting maimed by his own crackpot inventions, he is supremely unobservant, and often bumps into Duckula and converses with him for several minutes without realising to whom he is speaking.
Von Goosewing appears to have an assistant named Heinrich (who never appears on screen). Von Goosewing often calls for Heinrich, and often blames his failures on him. In fact, "Heinrich" seems to be just a figment of Von Goosewing's imagination, an imaginary friend.. However, the comic book version of the characters by Marvel reveal that Heinrich is actually his former assistant who is always complaining about his paltry wages..
The Marvel Comics run also introduced Vanna Von Goosewing, who was stated to be Von Goosewing's niece. Vanna and Duckula's reciprocal romance further infuriated Von Goosewing, as he now believed that Vanna was under some form of mental manipulation, assuming it to be the only reason she would have any interest in Duckula. This belief made him all the more intent on destroying Duckula as he now considered his mission to have a personal component to it, believing Duckula to be a threat to Vanna's safety. In an alternate universe depicted in the final issue of the comic, Von Goosewing, though he does not appear in the issue directly, is stated to have succeeded in destroying the counterpart Duckula of that reality, indicating it to be the reason why the 'regular' Duckula of the series had no reflection, and leaving Igor and Nanny without anyone to serve until the next time the resurrection ritual could be performed.
The Crow brothers
The Crow brothers are four criminally-inclined crows named Ruffles, Burt, Junior, and the masked brother (according to a comic in a Count Duckula annual). They typically scale the walls of Castle Duckula with the aid of climbing equipment. They are always seen hanging off one another with the use of bungee cords to climb the walls of whatever building they plan to scale. Their goal is to get at the treasure inside the castle, but they will rarely make it to the top.
Gaston and Pierre
Gaston and Pierre are a pair of French criminals and occasional villains. Although they are both undeniably incompetent, the arrogant Gaston is ostensibly the "brains" of the outfit. Gaston is a tall, thin, black stork, while Pierre is a short, stubby parakeet who sounds similar to Bluebottle from The Goon Show. The characters were adapted into non-bird form for yet another Cosgrove-Hall animated series, Victor and Hugo.
A ruthless crew of piratical penguins originally hired by Count Duckula, this crew of seafarers turn on Count Duckula when his antics crash their ship. All of the penguins are typical pirate stereotypes, one of which is known as Mr. Mate and shouts that he will "bite their legs off!"
The narrator (Barry Clayton) opens and closes every episode. Episodes usually began with him describing Castle Duckula and its gloomy atmosphere, and close with him saying a phrase popularised in the 1950s and 1960s by American TV horror host John Zacherle, "Goodnight out there ... WHATever you are!" Variants of this line are also used to close certain programmes.
Duckula has numerous vampiric relatives all over the world, who are more classic vampires than Duckula, possessing fangs, red eyes and evil personalities. Only a small number, such as Don Diego, show any affinity or friendship toward the benign Count Duckula.
They come from many different countries, such as Spain and Scotland, and their costumes represent their native cultures. The relatives include Don Diego, a Spanish vampire duck who makes his fun and games by burning down villages, and Rory McDuckula, a Scottish vampire duck who later makes himself an enemy of Duckula.
The town situated below Castle Duckula is home to many peasants who live in constant fear of the count, despite his harmless current incarnation. A recurring joke in the series and associated books is that "the peasants are revolting" (a pun that works because the word "revolting" can mean "rebelling" or "foul"). Their local pub is called "The Teeth and Jugular," a reference to vampires' practice of biting into blood vessels in their victims' necks. The regulars are often seen singing a variation of the traditional song "One Man Went to Mow a Meadow!" replacing the words "mow a meadow" with "kill a vampire".
Despite being mostly available in the U.K., the Count Duckula disks from Fremantle Media are in Region 0, PAL format. The first season was released on Region 1 DVD on 4 October 2005. Seasons 2, 3 & 4 have, as of 2015, not been released in North America.
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Count Duckula: The Complete Collection||Not yet released in region 1||27 October 2008||1 May 2013|
|Series||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Series 1||4 October 2005
(as "The complete first season")
|17 July 2006
(as "The complete first series")
|11 October 2007
(as "From Duck Til Dawn",
containing the first 18 episodes only)
|Series 2||Not yet released in region 1||26 March 2007
(as "The complete second series")
|Not yet released in region 4
but is released via Complete set DVD set
|Series 3 & 4||Not yet released in region 1||3 September 2007
(as "The complete third series")
|Not yet released in region 4
but is released via Complete set DVD set
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Count Duckula: Vampire Vacation||Not yet released in region 1||14 October 2002||Not yet released in region 4|
|Count Duckula: The Vampire Strikes Back!||Not yet released in region 1||11 August 2008||Not yet released in region 4|
During the show's original run, Count Duckula episodes were released on numerous VHS titles from Thames Video collection, often in a different sequence than that when televised. Amongst the releases were:
- Count Duckula: The Vampire Strikes Back! (TV8038) – Released: 9 February 1989
Episodes: "The Vampire Strikes Back!", "Hardluck Hotel," "Dear Diary"
- Count Duckula: Special Bumper Edition – Released: 6 December 1989
Consisted of several episodes from Series 2, but in a different sequence than that when first televised.
Episodes contained: "Ghostly Gold," "Prime-time Duck," "The Incredible Shrinking Duck," "Ducknapped!", "Bloodsucking Bats of the Lower Amazon"
- Count Duckula: A Fright at the Opera (TV8045) – Released: 28 February 1990
Episodes contained: "A Fright at the Opera," "Hunchbudgie of Notre Dame," "Dr. Goosewing and Mr Duck"
- Count Duckula: The Great Ducktective (TV8102) – Released: 1990
Episodes contained: "The Great Ducktective," "Private Beak," "Whodunnit?"
- Count Duckula: O.O. duck (TV8105) – Released: 19 September 1990
Episodes contained: "O.O. Duck," "A Mountie Always Gets His Duck!", "Manhattan Duck"
- Count Duckula: Astro Duck – Released: 31 December 1990
Episodes contained: "Astro Duck," "The Rest is History!", "Around the World in a Total Daze!", "The Zombie Awakes!"
- Count Duckula: Bombay Duck – Released: 31 December 1990, and 8 February 1991
Episodes contained: "Bombay Duck," "Mississippi Duck," "Mystery Cruise"
Interestingly, this VHS title appeared in 1990 but, at the time, the episodes contained were somewhat exclusive to video (the first was not televised until 1991, neither was the latter until 1993).
Count Duckula episodes were also released on special VHS compilations with episodes of other series. In 1989, the episode "Down under Duckula" was released on Thames' VHS title More Children's Summer Stories, with episodes from Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows. In 2001, in the twilight years of VHS, the episodes "The Ghost of Castle McDuckula" and "Venice a Duck, Not a Duck!" were featured on two cult kids' collection tapes, with episodes of Rainbow, Chorlton & the Wheelies, Button Moon and Jamie & the Magic Torch.
Alternative Software released a computer game based on Count Duckula called "No Sax Please, We're Egyptian!". In the game, Igor, Nanny and Count Duckula have decided to search the tomb of the great Pharaoh Upanatem (a pun on "up and at 'em") to find the mystic saxophone. What they do not know is that they have brought along some unwanted guests in the form of the Crow brothers.
The game was a basic jump and run platform-type game. At the start, the castle was transported to an ancient pyramid. Then, players had a set amount of time to go through the castle, evading the various baddies inside the castle, to retrieve the mystic sax before the Count's castle automatically returns to Transylvania, leaving the player stranded in Egypt.
The title of the game was a parody on the title of a British comedy play No Sex Please, We're British!.
The game was available for various 8-bit computers such as the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, & Amstrad CPC, and was also released as a "Kid's Pack" with other TV shows that Alternative Software turned into games, including "Postman Pat," "Sooty and Sweep," "Count Duckula," "Popeye 2," "The Wombles," and "Superted". Alternative Software was one of the few software companies of the 1980s that still survives today as an independent software producer.
There was also a Count Duckula 2 sequel in 1992.
- Interview with Brian cosgrove.
- Victor and Hugo, bunglers in crime
- Watson, Elena M. (2000). Television horror movie hosts: 68 vampires, mad scientists and other denizens of the late night airwaves examined and interviewed. Jefferson, North Carolina, United States: McFarland & Company. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-7864-0940-2.
- Count Duckula