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The series was first aired in the UK on the CBBC block on BBC One on 5 March 2007. It has been broadcast in 180 countries globally. The series consists of 150 seven-minute episodes. The fifth series contains 20 episodes and was aired in the Netherlands from 1 December 2015 until 1 January 2016 and in Australia on ABC Kids from 16 January 2016 until 1 May 2016. In the United States, a series of Shaun the Sheep shorts aired in between commercial breaks on Disney Channel starting with 8 July 2007, although the series has not been on the network for a decade.
The series recently has migrated to Netflix for a sixth series, under the subtitle Adventures from Mossy Bottom.
Shaun, an unusually clever sheep, lives with his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm (the name being revealed in the fourth season), a traditional small northern English farm. In each episode, their latest attempt to add excitement to their dull mundane life as livestock somehow snowballs into a fantastic sitcom-style escapade, most often with the help of their fascination with human doings and devices. This usually brings them into conflict--and often into partnership--with the farm sheepdog Bitzer, while they all are simultaneously trying to avoid discovery by the Farmer.
Series director Richard Goleszowski at Canterbury's Anifest 2008 with models of a generic sheep, Bitzer, Timmy, and Shaun
Shaun is the protagonist of the series and the leader of the flock. He is a clever, confident sheep, prone to mischief, but equally adept at getting himself and/or his friends out of it. As there is no dialogue, like all the sheep he communicates entirely through bleating, and often explains his ideas to the flock by drawing diagrams on a blackboard. He has a good friendship with Bitzer, though this does not stop him from playing pranks on him at times. His vocal effects are performed by Justin Fletcher.
Bitzer is the farmer's loyal, long-suffering sheepdog described as a golden retriever, dressed for work in a blue knit cap, black collar, knitted wristlet and large official-looking wrist-watch, carrying a clipboard and walking upright or on all fours as needed. He communicates, canine-fashion, via barks, growls, and the occasional whimper. He also gives instructions to the flock by blowing a whistle. Despite a tendency to be caught listening to music, he takes his job very seriously, to the point of occasionally letting his power go to his head. He is however a generally good friend to Shaun and does his best to keep the whole flock out of trouble. His vocal effects are performed by John Sparkes.
Shirley is the largest member of the flock. A gentle giant, she is usually seen placidly eating, though she's intimidating enough to have defended Shaun from Pidsley the cat. She's so big that large objects routinely disappear into her fleece, and she quite often gets stuck herself, needing the other sheep to push, pull or even sling-shot her out of trouble. However, her size can also come in very handy when what's needed is a battering ram or similarly immovable object. She is a devoted eater, blindly charging towards food, even if it isn't even food in the first place. Her size came from her eating, yet it has been proven that by following a diet and exercising, she can become as thin as Shaun.
Timmy, Shaun's cousin, is the flock's only lamb and thus often the innocent centre of the chaos. Timmy often tries to be like Shaun. His personality is often contrasting: sometimes he acts responsibly and understands what the older sheep say, other times, he acts as a normal baby, crying when something is taken from him or scares him. He's a toddler in series, and is often seen sucking a dummy. The spinoff series Timmy Time chronicles his later adventures in preschool.
Timmy's Mother, Shaun's aunt, wears curlers in her topknot and is a bit careless about maternal duties, even using Timmy once as a makeshift paint brush. But when her offspring goes astray, she is inconsolable until he is safely back in her care.
Nuts is quite an eccentric, but useful sheep and usually, like the rest of the flock, accompanies and helps Shaun. But the thing that makes him stand out from the flock is that he has two different shaped eyes and a different shaped nose.
Hazel - Hazel's nerves often get the better of her. She's a timid little sheep who jumps at the slightest thing and can frequently be heard bleating nervously. When Farmer's caravan rolls off towards the city, Hazel can barely contain her fear - this is the stuff of nightmares! But when she finds herself carried along with the rest of the Flock in hot pursuit of a runaway caravan, Hazel discovers she's much braver than she ever imagined, and that while life in the city might be scary, it's good to face your fears every now and again.
The Flock, like typical sheep, tend to follow Shaun and one another, are obedient to orders and generally form one big happy if sometimes fractious family group. Unlike Shaun, however, they are not particularly bright, which becomes a problem when combined with their ongoing fascination with the human world. It's usually Shaun and Bitzer who sort out the resulting mess.
The Farmer is a bespectacled, balding man who runs the farm with Bitzer at his side and acts as the flock's primary if unwitting nemesis. His livestock's main concern is to ensure he remains completely oblivious to their unusual sentience, a task made easier by his conventional, unobservant nature but complicated by his enthusiasm for picking up new hobbies. He can be heard frequently making wordless noises, speaking gibberish, or muttering under his breath just audibly enough for the viewer to pick up on his meaning. His disastrous attempts at dating are a running joke of the series. In the 2015 movie, he is referred to as Jacob Hurr by those who don't know his identity. He is voiced by "John Sparkes"
The Naughty Pigs, whose pen is adjacent to the sheepfield, are bullies to Shaun and his flock, always trying to antagonize them and get them into trouble. They are, however, scared of Bitzer (though they still take the chance to bully him whenever possible), and they get told off by the Farmer in "Pig Trouble". They communicate through oinks and squeals like actual pigs.
Pidsley is the Farmer's orange cat, a minor character (without fur) in Series 1 and the main antagonist of Series 2, who makes his last appearance in "We Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas". He desires to be the sole recipient of the Farmer's attention and thus is jealous of Bitzer. He also dislikes the sheep, thinking of them as stupid and beneath him. He communicates through meows and purrs like actual cats.
Mower Mouth is a goat who first appears in the episode of the same name. He is an unstoppable eating machine. While not an unfriendly character, all of his considerable energy is focused on his next meal. He thus routinely causes trouble for Shaun and the flock, as also seen in "Shaun the Farmer".
The Bull is belligerent, powerful, and easily provoked by Shaun's antics and the colour red. He appears in "The Bull", "Saturday Night Shaun", "Who's the Mummy?" and "Heavy Metal Shaun". He also appears in "Sheepwalking" where he is awoken by the flock who they followed Shaun walking in his sleep, and throws one of the sheep into the chicken coop, causing confusion.
The Ducks make frequent appearances. In the first series, a single duck gets into predicaments due to Shaun's exploits in "Off the Baa!", "Tidy Up", and "Bathtime". Sometimes he is seen with his lady friends. In series two there are two ducks; in series three, they have once again been replaced with a single, pure white duck.
The Aliens appear in "Shaun Encounters", "The Visitor" and "Cat Got Your Brain" and briefly in "Spring Lamb". They are green and have one large eye on the top of the head. Despite their clearly advanced scientific technology, which frequently causes trouble for the farm animals, they exhibit human-like behaviour and generally jovial personalities.
The Granny is a short-tempered, short-sighted old lady, appearing in "Take Away" and "Save the Tree". She also appears in "Two's Company", holding a cart, and "The Big Chase", forcing the pigs to give her a lift in their car. She is renowned for hitting people (or animals) with her handbag when they annoy her by mistake.
The Pizza Delivery Boy is a young man who rides a moped (which Bitzer often "borrows" to chase after the sheep) and works in the local pizzeria. He also works as a postman in "Saturday Night Shaun".
The Farmer's Girlfriend appears for the first time in Series 2. She appears to be adventurous and an animal lover, patting Bitzer and Shaun and offering food to Timmy.
The Farmer's Niece appears in "The Farmer's Niece" (her debut), "Bitzer's New Hat" and "The Rabbit". She appears to be a fan of horses and causes irritation to Shaun, Bitzer and the flock. The Farmer's Niece is also a spoiled brat, as she screams and wails every time things don't go her way. She is also one of the few humans who know what the flock is up to.
Each seven-minute episode is entirely shot in Aardman's distinctive stop-motion animation style. The comedic tone is a combination of slapstick and classic silent comedy, similar to that used in the Wallace & Gromit shorts. In this series, there is not much spoken dialogue at all, even from the human characters; simple grunts, bleats, barks, growls, pointing, sighs, mutterings, words, and similar wordless inflections and other animal sounds are all used to indicate each character's moods and motives. There are also no readable words in any episode, although "Bitzer" can be seen on a dog bowl, and--in series four--"Mossy Bottom Farm" on a gate, in the original English-language title sequence. All other signage, such as on a pizza box or a bus stop, is replaced by an illegible scrawl and a picture.
Shaun the Sheep's first appearance was in Wallace & Gromit's third short feature, the Academy Award winning A Close Shave, as the youngest member of a flock of sheep Wallace and Gromit work to save from being turned into dog food. He was named Shaun as a pun on the word "shorn" after he was accidentally subjected to Wallace's automated sheep shearing machine. This early version of Shaun shows a hint of his characteristic human-like bravado--among other things, wearing a sweater knitted from his own shorn wool--and he proves to be a major help in saving the day.
At the end of this short, Shaun is seen living with the duo; Shaun later made a brief cameo appearance in the "Shopper 13" episode of Wallace & Gromit's "Cracking Contraptions" web series. No official explanation has been given for the flock's transfer to the farm.
Although the original series is silent aside from sound effects, a Hindi-dubbed version seen on Nickelodeon India was redone with scripts and dialogue.
The first two series consisted of 40 seven-minute episodes each, and the third 20 episodes. The fourth series debuted on 3 February 2014. The fifth series aired in ABC Australia in January 2016. A series of 15 1-minute 3D shorts were released on Nintendo's Video service for the Nintendo 3DS between March and June 2012. The Nintendo shorts were released in early 2016 on the official Shaun the Sheep YouTube channel under the name "Mossy Bottom Farm Shorts". Another series of 21 1-minute sports-themed shorts, named Championsheeps, aired on CBBC during the Summer of 2012.
A second half-hour special titled Shaun the Sheep: A Winter's Tale will go into production in late 2020 and will air on Christmas 2021 on BBC One.
Netflix and sixth series
On 19 February 2020, it was reported that the sixth series of Shaun the Sheep, subtitled Adventures from Mossy Bottom, was released on Netflix on 16 March 2020 in Spain, Poland, Turkey, Israel, and UAE. Additionally, it was released in the UK, US, Canada, and Latin America on 17 March 2020.
Adventures from Mossy Bottom features a new electronic version of the theme, a new intro episode sequence, and introduced new characters including a super-fast squirrel named Stash, a fancy neighbour Farmer Ben and his dog Lexi, and the Rita delivery lady.
Reviews of the series were consistently positive. Harry Venning of The Stage found "characterisation charming and the animation superb. All this before even a mention of how funny and splendidly slapstick the script is."The Guardian noted that the series "hits the four-to-seven-year-old age group smack in the eye." Series producer Gareth Owen said the age range is "four-to-seven, though in reality, the age range is four-to-eighty-seven", as the series is popular among all different age-groups. Charles Arthur wrote "classic Aardman style that leaves me laughing out loud."
In 2009, Aardman Animations released Timmy Time, a CBeebiesspin-off series aimed at preschoolers. It centres on Timmy's own adventures as he attends preschool for the first time and learns how to interact and play with a variety of young animal friends.
Aardman developed a feature film Shaun the Sheep Movie, written and directed by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, which was financed by French company StudioCanal, which was released on 6 February 2015. The film received very positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 99% of critics have given the film a positive review. The film opened to $3.2 million in the UK and grossed $22 millon in the UK and $106 million worldwide.
On 16 June 2008, D3 Publisher of America, which had previously published a game based on Aardman's 2006 film Flushed Away, announced that it would also release a video game based on Shaun's escapades. The Shaun the Sheep game was developed by Art Co., Ltd exclusively for Nintendo DS, and was released in autumn 2008.
A second game for Nintendo DS, titled Shaun the Sheep: Off His Head, was released on 23 October 2009, exclusively in Europe.
The Shaun the Sheep website is also home to several Flash-based games, including Home Sheep Home, which was also made available at the iOS App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in April 2011. A sequel, Home Sheep Home 2, was released in December 2011 for Windows PCs, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It was released on the Steam digital distribution platform for Windows PCs in February 2014.
In June 2016, an event course called Shaun's Mossy Mole Mischief, was released on Super Mario Maker, along with Shaun's costume.
A movie adaptation of Home Sheep Home entitled Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition was announced for release in October 2019 for Nintendo Switch. Shaun, Shirley and Timmy find their way back to the green grass of home. all hosted by Shaun's new alien pal Lu-La. The platform puzzle game will contain all the much loved gameplay from previous Home Sheep Home games.
In 2015, a family attraction based on Shaun the Sheep, called "The Shaun the Sheep Experience" opened at Lands End, rebranded "Lamb's End" for the duration of the attraction. It features original sets, models, and characters from many Aardman productions. Using green screen technology, guests are able to "star" in a scene from the show, as well as meet other characters from the Aardman filmography including Wallace and Gromit and Morph.
In 2015, Shaun the Sheep appeared as the face of the "Holidays at Home are Great" directive. In the advert, seeing the Farmer going away, Shaun and the flock decide to have their own holiday around the UK before the Farmer gets back.
Shaun in the City
In 2015, Shaun the Sheep starred in two public charity arts trails to raise money for sick children in hospitals across the UK. Organised by Wallace & Gromit's Children's Foundation in collaboration with Aardman, Shaun in the City saw 50 giant artist and celebrity-decorated sculptures of Shaun appear in London in the spring, before a further 70 appeared in Bristol throughout the summer. All 120 sculptures were auctioned in October 2015, raising £1,087,900 for Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal and Wallace & Gromit's Children's Charity.