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Thursday, March 18, 1999 Published at 14:26 GMT


Obituary: The man behind Emu

Rod Hull in Panto with weatherman Ian McCaskill

The entertainer Rod Hull has died after falling off the roof of his cottage at Rye, East Sussex.

The BBC's Lisa Holland looks back at some of Rod Hull's famous antics
Hull and his mute, but mischievous puppet, Emu, were regular favourites on TV in the 1970s and early 1980s as he presented shows like Rod Hull And Emu and later EBC (Emu's Broadcasting Company) and Emu's World.

Early stage career

[ image: Rod Hull's Emu woos TV's Selina Scott]
Rod Hull's Emu woos TV's Selina Scott
Rod Hull was born in Kent in 1936 and performed with a concert party from the age of 15. But the shy young Hull trained as an electrician when he left school.

He moved to Australia in the 1960's, and got into television as host of an early morning children's programme.

Emu, the mute but belligerent puppet, was born as a prop on the show, and Hull continued to use it on concert and club engagements.

[ image: Michael Parkinson gets the full Emu treatment]
Michael Parkinson gets the full Emu treatment
When Hull returned to Britain in 1970, Emu quickly became a star of children's and adult television. Its habit of attacking anyone in reach brought him particular notoriety when the victim was Michael Parkinson, who was interviewing Hull on his chat show.

When Emu met the Queen Mother at the Royal Variety Show in 1972, the wayward puppet ate her bouquet.

Financial problems

In 1987, at the height of his fame, Hull paid 387,000 for Restoration House, an Elizabethan mansion in Kent, which was a favourite setting of Charles Dickens in his novels.

[ image: Rod Hull and Emu get to grips with TV's Frank Bough]
Rod Hull and Emu get to grips with TV's Frank Bough
Hull spent another 500,000 restoring it, but was soon beset by money problems, including massive tax arrears. The house was repossessed, and in 1994 Hull was declared bankrupt.

Last season he was entertaining children and adults alike in pantomime in Windsor, where he appeared alongside former TV weatherman Ian McCaskill.

Hull also recently made a return to TV screens in an advertisment for the butter substitute, Clover.

Rod Hull married twice; he had five children.

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