Count Duckula

Count Duckula is a British animated comedy horror television series created by British studio Cosgrove Hall Films and produced by Thames Television as a spin-off from Dangermouse, a series in which the Count Duckula character was a recurring villain. Count Duckula aired from 6 September 1988 to 16 February 1993 across four series; in all, 65 episodes were made, each about 22 minutes long. All have been released on DVD in the UK, while only the first series has been released in North America.

This show should not be confused with the short lived 1979 Quacula which was produced by Filmation and appeared as part of their Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle cartoon hour.

Count Duckula then reappeared in the 2015 TV Series of Danger Mouse.

Count Duckula was created by British studio Cosgrove Hall Films as a spin-off from Danger Mouse. In 1984 Nickelodeon acquired the US broadcast 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, Geraldine Laybourne, 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.

In a move mirroring Duckula’s adaptation from Danger Mouse, the characters of Gaston and Pierre were reinvented and given a spinoff series as the now-human Victor and Hugo.

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 through 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”.

As the title sequence puts it, “the latest reincarnation did not run according to plan”. The successful conclusion of the ritual requires blood, the source of sustenance for any vampire, but Nanny accidentally substitutes 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 center 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 Borscht Belt comedian styled 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 traveling 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.

Voice cast

  • Count Duckula: David Jason
  • Igor: Jack May
  • Nanny: Brian Trueman
  • Dr. Von Goosewing: Jimmy Hibbert
  • Dimitri: Brian Trueman
  • 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

VHS releases

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.

VHS Title Release Date Episodes
Count Duckula (TV8036) 7 November 1988 No Sax Please, We’re Egyptian, The Mutinous Penguins, One Stormy Night
Count Duckula: The Vampire Strikes Back!(TV8038) 7 November 1988 The Vampire Strikes Back!, Hardluck Hotel, Dear Diary
Count Duckula: A Fright at the Opera(TV8045) 7 November 1988 A Fright at the Opera, Hunchbudgie of Notre Dame, Dr. Goosewing and Mr Duck
Count Duckula: Jungle Duck (TV8050) 24 April 1989 Jungle Duck, Vampire Vacation, Igor’s Busy Day
Count Duckula: Autoduck 1 May 1989 Autoduck, Rent a Butler, Mobile Home
Count Duckula: Transylvanian Homesick Blues 1 May 1989 Transylvanian Homesick Blues, Restoration Comedy, All in a Fog
Children’s Favourites Vol.1 1 May 1989 The Duck and the Broccoli Stalk (Compilation VHS with Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows)
Children’s Favourites Vol.2 1 May 1989 Castle Duckula: Open to the Public (Compilation VHS with Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows)
More Children’s Summer Stories 5 June 1989 Down Under Duckula (Compilation VHS with Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows)
The Count Duckula Bumper Special(TV8079) 2 October 1989 Ghostly Gold, Prime Time Duck, The Incredible Shrinking Duck, Ducknapped!, Bloodsucking Bats of the Lower Amazon
Count Duckula: The Ghost of McCastle McDuckula (WP0020) 6 November 1989 The Ghost of McCastle McDuckula

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