The ‘bloody bird’ in question was Emu – the puppet wielded by Rod Hull. The duo were a staple of 1970s and ‘80s British telly, and when they appeared on Parky’s show in 1976 it became notorious.
As The Guardian put it in an article titled The best 10 chatshow moments: “The beglittered blue bird pecked at Parky, before pushing him off his swivel chair and manhandling him to the floor. The host lost a shoe in the scuffle, not to mention his sense of humour.”
If Parky would like to recreate that seminal moment, Hull’s Emu puppet is coming up for sale at Chippenham Auctions Rooms in Wiltshire on May 31 estimated at £750-1000.
To be specific, this isn’t actually his attacker, but is certainly the next best thing. The puppet, which was made at a cost of £10,000 in the mid-to-late 1980s to Rod Hull’s specifications, was to be used by him on stage and for a pilot TV show. However, the TV show’s producer Endemol ultimately decided to use a different version of the puppet, so this one was kept in reserve.
Emu, once called ‘possibly the most unpleasant, least talented puppet of all time’ is being sold by a private collector from Radstock, Somerset, who kept it in his bedroom – much to his children’s horror, he admitted.
The 58-year-old puppet enthusiast is disposing of part of his collection due to lack of room.
Richard Edmonds, principal auctioneer at Chippenham, said: “It’s amazing how people respond to Emu. Even when he’s just lying on the table, staff are a little wary of getting too close to him – just in case.
“The original Emu was destroyed many years ago, so there may only be one other official puppet still in existence in addition to this one – and that may be outside the UK. It’s exceptionally well made and is in excellent condition. With the boom in nostalgia TV and a new generation of collectors who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, I think we’ll see considerable interest.”
English comedian Hull first used Emu on an Australian television show, then returned to the UK and established the act here. The puppet infamously destroyed the Queen Mother’s bouquet of flowers after the 1972 Royal Variety Performance before his Parkinson pecking.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, Rod Hull and Emu had a series of shows on ITV, but by the late 80s the act was losing its popularity and Hull got into debt. Hull died in 1999 when he fell from the roof of his home while attempting to adjust his television aerial.
The puppet was later used by Hull’s son Toby on television and stage during the 2000s.