My, but doesn’t time fly? It was just over a year ago that TV Today brought you the news that Emu would be returning to children’s television, under the watchful arm of Toby Hull, son of the late Rod Hull.
And it was with some trepidation that this morning at TV Today towers, we received the official press release for the series along with a dinky little promo reel. And you know what, it doesn’t look half bad… Trepidation, be gone!
The set-up is simple – Emu and his best friend Toby move into a supposedly pet free tower block, where all sorts of madcap fun can ensue. Of course, with the block management not being well-disposed towards large blue birds, Emu is always under threat from hapless security guard Ken Cole, who’s forever trying to catch the “eponymous puppet with a penchant for pecking”. Thankfully, next door neighbours Charlie and Dani are on hand to give Toby and the blue bird a helping hand.
Okay, it isn’t exactly War and Peace, but as a kid’s show aimed at 6-11 year-olds, it’s about on the money. Toby Hull is as genial a sidekick as you’d hope to see, playing the straight man well, but also clearly accomplished at the slapstick necessary for this kind of show to work. From the promo reel, he’s quite happy looking like a prat at the wings of Emu for the greater comedy good, much like Mathew Corbett did with Sooty, and course, just like Toby’s late great father.
But the odd thing about the promo is seeing “that bloody bird” to quote Michael Parkinson, moving independently of Toby. There are a couple of occasions when he’s being held in the traditional manner by Toby, complete with false arm, but otherwise he’s quite capable of moving around on his own. He can even pick things up with a wing to pass objects to Toby – high tech or what? What’s even more startling are the little snickers and squeaks that come from the bird – one of Emu’s original charms was that silent, cheeky poker face he had. But as a sop to modern television production, I’ll let that one go.
But the press release is a bit odd and is written in a very confusing manner, especially:
“This is essentially ‘Emu the early years’ with a flapping fresh, young and brilliant blue Emu taking centre stage. Join everyone’s favourite feathered friend, on his adventures! Close calls with beady eyed security guards and scheming, money grabbing neighbours, Emu stays unflappable with sidekick and best friend Toby, who will be assuming the role of a young, unforgettable, Rod Hull.”
From this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a Casino Royale version of Emu, Emu Begins, which mis-sells the series somewhat. It implies that Toby Hull is playing his father, when it’s clear from the promo he isn’t. I think the press release wanted to pay tribute to Rod Hull (and quite right), but methinks another couple of drafts would have helped.
But that’s by the by. After some initial scepticism here at TV Today, it’s entirely possible that we might just be looking forward to this. Any kids show that has Emu sitting in a bath eating popadoms and wearing a shower cap has got to have something going for it… Now if we can just have a return for Dr Emu and the Deadly Dustbins, I’ll be a happy, um… birdy.
Watch out for Emu, coming soon to CITV