Orville the Duck was the most famous puppet often used by the ventriloquist Keith Harris (1947–2015) and was named after Orville Wright (one of the Wright Brothers).[1] Orville is a green duckling who wears nothing but a nappy with a large safety pin on the front. He speaks with a falsetto voice.

Orville the Duck
Keith Harris and Orville fair use.jpg
Keith Harris and Orville performing "Orville's Song" in 1982
Created byKeith Harris
Portrayed byKeith Harris

Orville appeared on BBC television from 1982 to 1990 on The Keith Harris Show, which featured assorted puppets such as Orville the Duck and Cuddles the Monkey. At the peak of their popularity in December 1982, Harris and Orville released the single "Orville's Song", reaching number 4 in the UK Singles Chart[2] in January 1983 and selling over 400,000 copies in total.

After The Keith Harris Show's close in 1990, Harris took up work for Butlins holiday resorts.

In 1991 "Orville's Song" was sampled for a dance music single "I wish I could fly" by DWA with Harris appearing in the accompanying music video.

In 2004, Harris provided Orville's personality in an advert for Surf washing powder. Harris, in an attempt to broaden the horizons of his original stage show, also toured with a more adult offering entitled Duck Off.[3]

Orville and Harris had a short appearance on the sketch comedy series Little Britain as themselves in a group of entertainers waiting to meet the royal family. In another episode, Orville was portrayed as an out-of-work actor shopping at a supermarket, played by Matt Lucas, dressed as an oversized version of Orville, and had a regularly pitched voice. Harris and Orville have also made an appearance on Channel Four's Banzai.

In 2005, both Harris and Orville appeared in the Channel 5 reality TV show, The Farm and went on to win it.[4] They also appeared in the video for Tony Christie's "Is This the Way to Amarillo", which was re-released in that year. In May 2009, they made a cameo appearance on the BBC drama Ashes to Ashes, set in November 1982.

There were two Orville puppets that Harris used, one manual, one a radio-controlled animatronic version. The original Orville puppet is insured for £100,000.

In February 2012, Orville featured in a giffgaff advert.[5][6] In October 2012 and December 2013, Orville appeared with Harris on Pointless Celebrities.

Harris died of cancer on 28 April 2015 and his agent confirmed that Orville would be retired and will never appear in public again.[7]


  1. ^ Youde, Kate (2011-07-31). "Orville finally takes flight - News - Theatre & Dance". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  2. ^ Roberts, David, ed. (2005). Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles & Albums (18th ed.). Guinness World Records. p. 227. ISBN 1-904994-00-8. [Artist] Keith Harris and Orville, Orville's Song, BBC RESL 124, [first entered chart] 18 Dec 82, [peak position] 4, [weeks on chart] 11
  3. ^ Flyer from Harris' web page
  4. ^ "The Farm: Keith And Orville hit the jackpot". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  5. ^ "The public image: Giffgaff's 'free a chicken' ad". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  6. ^ "Orville And Keith Harris 'Unlock A Chicken' In Giffgaff Hip-Hop Video". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  7. ^ "Keith Harris dead: Orville the duck will never appear in public again in tribute to late ventriloquist". Daily Mirror. 2015-04-28. Retrieved 2018-04-14.

External linksEdit