Forget Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones, the best show on TV at the moment is on CBeebies – the BBC‘s digital preschool channel – and it’s about a girl and her waterfowl friend: Sarah & Duck.
Created by Sarah Gomes Harris and Tim O’Sullivan and loosely based on Gomes Harris’ childhood, this traditional animated series follows the idiosyncratic adventures of Sarah, a happy-go-lucky trombone-playing seven year old girl (voiced by Tasha Lawrence) and her best friend Duck, a deadpan Mallard with a serious bread addiction (voiced by an unnamed duck).
Sublimely narrated by The Thick Of It‘s Roger Allam, the series centers around the relationship between the two main characters and the charmingly surreal adventures they have together. Along the way we meet a quirky cast of supporting characters, such as Scarf Lady (a dotty, knitting-mad matriarch voiced by Downton Abbey‘s Lesley Nicol) and her companions the cockney jack-the-lad Bag (her knitting bag) and her grumpy pet Donkey, as well as an excitable Umbrella, bizarro World Sarah & Duck: John & Flamingo, the Ribbon Sisters, Plate Girl (Jet Girl to Sarah’s Tank Girl), Scooter boy, a talking cake, a rainbow with a mustache and a button-collecting bug.
The show is visually stunning. Beautifully designed, with an iconic style of it’s own, yet with a soft hand-drawn quality reminiscent of classic shows like Mr Benn and Ivor The Engine. The plots strongly revolve around the theme of learning through play, but their frequent abstract tangents, surreal situations and emphasis on humour make Sarah & Duck as enjoyable for adults as it is for children.
In the episode ‘Sarah, Duck & The Penguins’ Sarah & Duck visit the zoo, as Duck decides he wants to be a penguin for the day. Duck’s failed attempts to ‘speak’ penguin are hilariously met with cold indifference from the blank-faced penguins and the narrator concludes that being a penguin wasn’t all it was “quacked up to be”. Sarah & Duck’s fourth wall breaking reaction to this pun is one of the funniest pieces of animation I’ve seen in a long time.
I’ve been a big fan of the show since I saw the very first episode, so you can imagine how excited I was when The Beano accepted my pitch for a parody ‘Madvert’ entitled Sarah & Velociraptor.
The page was an absolute pleasure to draw, I loved every minute of it. I recently tweeted it and the official Sarah & Duck Twitter account gave it their seal of approval, which was a real thrill.
I’m very pleased with the finished work, but if I could draw it again I’d definitely cram in more of the shows characters and maybe have Duck fighting off the ‘raptor, as I wanted to draw him too, but as Sarah Gome Harris herself said on Twitter “This is quite eventful!”
Sarah & Duck is produced by London-based Karrot Entertainment, using computer-assisted animation techniques and the CelAction2D package. The first series consists of 40 episodes, with each episode lasting 7 minutes. A second series of 40 episodes starts this summer. Lots Of Shallots, a DVD featuring the first 10 episodes, is available HERE and HERE, or you can buy the whole first series for just shy of £30 on iTunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play.
You can tune in to Sarah & Duck every day on CBeebies at 5.10pm, or catch up with the week’s episodes on iPlayer.
The Beano is available every Wednesday in WH Smiths, Sainsbury’s and your local newsagent.