Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Rod Hull (August 13 1936-March 18 1999) was a popular children's entertainer on British television in the 1970s and 1980s. Hull rarely appeared without Emu, a mute, highly aggressive arm-length puppet of an emu.
Hull was born in Kent in 1936. He spent his early career in Australia where he worked on a children's breakfast TV programme and first used Emu as a puppet. Emu became a regular part of Hull's set on cabarets back in the United Kingdom and Australia. Soon after his Australian success translated to his country of birth with Hull appearing on several children's and adult light entertainment shows. During this time Hull and the uncontrollable Emu made their most famous scenes - Emu repeatedly attacked and pushed Michael Parkinson from his chair during an edition of the (usually serious) Parkinson chat show. Parkinson was so annoyed he treatened to break Emu's neck (in other words, Rod Hull's arm) if he did it again. In 1972 Emu ate the Queen Mother's bouquet of flowers at a Royal Variety Performance. The record viewership for his main show, Emu Broadcasting Corporation, was 11 million people.
During the 1980s, Hull was a multi-millionaire and enjoyed huge success with Emu's World and Emu's all live Pink Windmill Show, but later suffered financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt in 1994. Hull was in the public eye less frequently during the 1990s, appearing in panto and television commercials. Nonetheless, Hull's name remained well-known, and comedians Richard Herring and Stewart Lee included a "Rod Hull" character in their 1995 television sketch show Fist of Fun, played by the actor Kevin Eldon. This character was performed as a grotesque imitation of the real Rod Hull, a character who was finally unmasked by the real Rod Hull, who appeared as himself - without Emu - in the final episode of the series. It was to be Rod Hull's penultimate television appearance.
Hull died in 1999 after falling from the roof of his house, whilst trying to fix his television aerial. He had been watching a Manchester United football match with his son when the picture lost quality. Lee and Herring had planned to revive their "Rod Hull" character for their contemporary series This Morning With Richard Not Judy, but despite filming several sketches - in which the character would himself die after performing a pointless stunt - the footage was disposed of. 
Hull married twice and had five children. His son Toby brought Emu out of retirement for the first time since his father's death during the 2003 pantomime season, appearing in Cinderella at Windsor's Theatre Royal.
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