Today in Television – May 24

Herbie the skateboarding duck (c.1976-83) was the subject of an item first broadcast on the Midlands Today insert to the BBC news magazine programme Nationwide on May 24, 1978.

The film, presented by reporter Alan Towers, includes footage of Herbie, an Aylesbury duck, waddling along the street, joining the Randall family at breakfast and attacking the Randalls’ terrier. Part of the film is a four-second shot of Herbie apparently skateboarding by himself on his owner’s board. This image seemingly captured the public imagination, and the BBC received many requests for it to be shown again, which it frequently was.

As a result of the item’s popularity, the term “skateboarding duck” has come to signify a particular sort of quirky and essentially frivolous news story, often used to fill time at the end of a broadcast. The item came to define Nationwide in the public mind.

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