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Robbie the Reindeer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robbie the Reindeer
GenreComedy, Stop motion
Created byRichard Curtis
Based onRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes3
Running time30 minutes
Production companiesBBC Bristol
Comic Relief
Absolute Digital Pictures
DistributorBBC Studios
Original networkBBC One
Picture formatPAL, 16:9
Original release1999 – 2007

Robbie the Reindeer is a series of three animated comedy television specials co-produced by the BBC and the charity Comic Relief which were broadcast on BBC One between Christmas 1999 and 2007. Although the series is distributed commercially by BBC Studios, and has been sold to more than 30 countries internationally, the entirety of the net profits from the series go to Comic Relief.[1][2] The first two specials were animated in stop motion by the BBC Bristol animation unit,[3] while the third was a CGI animation by Absolute Digital Pictures. Robbie the Reindeer was created by Richard Curtis,[2] who also was executive producer of the first two specials and co-wrote Hooves of Fire.

The programmes follow Robbie, a reindeer who travels to the North Pole to follow in the footsteps of his father Rudolph and join Santa's sleigh team, his encounters with the vengeful Blitzen and his relationship with love interest Donner.


  • Ardal O'Hanlon as Robbie: The easy-going and childlike son of Rudolph whose nose acts as a tracking device. He is the captain of the sleigh team.
  • Paul Whitehouse as Prancer: An upbeat and slow-witted reindeer that befriends Robbie.
  • Jane Horrocks as Donner: A support member of the sleigh team and Robbie's love interest. The name is a play on the British pronunciation of the feminine name 'Donna'. Reindeer, unlike other members of the deer family, have antlers in both sexes, so that both Donner and Vixen can be accurately portrayed as female.
  • Steve Coogan as Blitzen: The former captain of the sleigh team who is envious of Rudolph's popularity (so much so that he won't let anyone speak his name in his presence) and plots to "destroy" Robbie as revenge.
  • Harry Enfield as Old Jingle: The reindeer that trained Rudolph and prepares Robbie for The Reindeer Games.
  • Alistair McGowan as Des Yeti and Alan Snowman: Commentators for The Reindeer Games. The characters are parodies of presenter Des Lynam and football commentator Alan Hansen, who both starred on BBC One's Match of the Day in the 1990s.
  • Robbie's father:[4][5] A legendary former sleigh team member who once "saved the day" for Santa and as a result is popular enough to have merchandise and a song named after him. He is unseen (apart from a painting of him in the sleigh team's home) and unnamed; a running gag sees any character who attempts to say his name immediately interrupted by Blitzen. The character is implied to be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with the censorship of his name presumed to stem from trademark restrictions.

List of specials

No.TitleDirected byWritten byMusic byProduced byOriginal air date
1"Hooves of Fire"Richard GoleszowskiKevin Cecil, Andy Riley, Richard CurtisMark Knopfler, Guy FletcherJaqueline White25 December 1999 (1999-12-25)

Wanting to work as Santa's navigator, Robbie arrives at the North Pole and becomes acquainted with the sleigh team, which includes Prancer, Donner, Blitzen and Vixen. Although Vixen is in a relationship with Blitzen, Robbie is soon besotted by her. Blitzen, who envies Robbie's father Rudolph, plots to have Robbie kicked off the team by discouraging him from taking his fitness training seriously, conceiving a new sleigh with inbuilt GPS navigation and proposing that the least fit reindeer is made redundant. Faking sincerity, Blitzen convinces a worried Robbie that Santa will give him preferential treatment and delay the sleigh, prompting Robbie to leave for home. Finding the journey too difficult, he is found by Santa's elves and stays with them to work menial jobs. Donner finds Robbie, informs him of Blitzen's vengeful attitude and convinces him to get back on the Sleigh Team by competing in The Reindeer Games. The two find Old Jingle, who trains Robbie with Donner and the elves' help. On the day of the games, Old Jingle becomes trapped under his house, Robbie rescues him but arrives late for the steeplechase as a result. Robbie is able to catch up with the others and ends up barely losing the race to Blitzen, who is soon disqualified and arrested when he is found to have used performance-enhancing substances. Vixen dumps Blitzen, finds that Robbie has now fallen for Donner and leaves the North Pole. Santa lets Robbie borrow the sleigh, which he uses to spend a romantic evening with Donner.

Guest starring: Robbie Williams (narrator), Caroline Quentin (Vixen), Jean Alexander (Mrs Santa), Ricky Tomlinson (Santa), Rhys Ifans (Head Elf), Tony Anscombe (Elf 3).
2"Legend of the Lost Tribe"Peter PeakeKevin Cecil, Andy RileyJoby TalbotJaqueline White25 December 2002 (2002-12-25)

Robbie and the other reindeer now run a bankrupt holiday resort. While rescuing a tourist, Robbie falls of a cliff and is rescued by a Viking, who then disappears. Later, Blitzen is released from prison early due to good behaviour, which he uses to trick the other reindeer into building a trap for themselves. Robbie, Donner and Prancer are the only ones to escape, and seek the aid of the last remaining Viking tribe (whose diminutive members are all named "Magnus"). Robbie's methods of searching for the tribe strain his relationship with Donner, who dumps him in frustration shortly before she and Prancer are recaptured by Blitzen's rabbit sidekick, Long Eared Jack. Using special remote-controlled hats to turn them into "robots", Blitzen uses the former sleigh team as attractions in his park Blitzen's Reindeer World. Robbie finds the tribe, who have been hiding since they avoided a battle that killed every other Viking. Robbie brings them out of their shame, but is kidnapped mid-speech. The Vikings rescue Robbie and assist him in saving his friends. Blitzen engages in a hand-to-hand fight against Robbie which is interrupted by Donner talking to Robbie about their relationship. Blitzen convinces Robbie to propose to Donner and attempts to kill him before he can hear her answer. Donner accepts Robbie's proposal and finishes off Blitzen in a move that throws him directly into jail. Meanwhile, Prancer overpowers Long Eared Jack and discovers that he was the international criminal Carlos the Hamster in a mechanical disguise; Carlos is also jailed. To salvage their business, the reindeer partner with the Vikings to create a themed disco.

Guest starring: Jeff Goldblum (Long Eared Jack (credited as White Rabbit)), The League of Gentlemen (Vikings), Sean Hughes (Tapir), Rob Brydon (Prison Guard), Ricky Gervais (Penguin), Natalie Imbruglia (Koala), David Attenborough (as himself).
3"Close Encounters of the Herd Kind"Donnie AndersonMark Huckerby, Nick OstlerRick Wentworth, Andrew McKennaDonnie Anderson25 December 2007 (2007-12-25)

On the night before his wedding to Donner, Robbie picks up an alien crystal that falls from the sky. During the wedding, a voice telepathically warns him of the end of the world and he runs out mid-ceremony in panic. Robbie finds that the voice belongs to Gariiiiiii, an Earth Guardian, who warns him that an alien race named the Nargathrons plan on destroying earth and that Robbie's crystal powers their ultimate weapon. Moments before dying, Gariiiiiii tells Robbie to hide the Nargathron crystal and leaves his telepathy device. At the Sleigh Team's home, Nargathron queen Vorkana arrives and kidnaps Donner when she refuses to give Robbie's location. Prancer, Old Jingle and Tapir find Robbie, and the four of them discover Gariiiiiii's spaceship. Robbie flies to the Nargathron ship, where he is imprisoned with Donner. The others take the crystal back to their home, where Donner's sister Em reveals that she is a government agent who specialises in extraterrestrial life. She is able to contact the Earth Guardians using the crystal but is soon found by the Nargathrons. With the crystal, the Nargathrons count down to their destruction of Earth. Robbie uses the telepathy device to trick the guards into freeing Donner and himself, then uses the ship to teleport Donner back to earth. Robbie tricks Vorkana into standing on the ship's teleport pad and sends her to Em, who knocks her out. Robbie escapes the ship just moments before it is destroyed by the Earth Guardians, and uses the telepathy device to complete his wedding ceremony.

Guest starring: Gillian Anderson (Vorkana), Keira Knightley (Em), Ozzy Osbourne (Vicar), Michael Palin (Gariiiiiii), Sean Hughes (Tapir), Graham Norton (Computer), Russell Brand (Earth Guardian), Shane Richie (Trooper 1), Ross Kemp (Trooper 2).


American dub

The programme was first shown in the United States on Fox Family with the original British voices until 2001. In 2002, CBS acquired the rights to the first two specials and recorded new dialog with American actors.[1] The American cast included Ben Stiller (Robbie), Britney Spears (Donner), James Woods (Narrator, Viking 1), Brad Garrett (Prancer), Hugh Grant (Blitzen, largely imitating Coogan's original characterization), Leah Remini (Vixen, Koala), Jerry Stiller (Old Jingle), Dick Enberg (Des Yeti), Dan Dierdorf (Allan Snowman), Grey DeLisle (Mrs. Santa, Arctic Fox, Female Viking), Rob Paulsen (Head Elf, Viking 2/4) and Jim Belushi (Santa, Tapir, Little Magnus). Whereas the original British characters of Des Yeti and Alan Snowman originally parodied their counterparts on Match of the Day, the selection of Enberg and Dierdorf for the American dub parodied their work as a broadcast team for the NFL on CBS at the time. CBS stopped showing the program after the 2005 Christmas season, after which Nicktoons Network showed the original British version for two years. In 2016, CBS began broadcasting the first two specials again using the American dub. "Close Encounters of the Herd Kind" has not been dubbed nor made available in the United States.

In addition to the dub, the first two specials have been shown as a single hour long (i.e. 45 minutes + advertisements) special in America, cutting around fifteen minutes of material from the original versions. One of the most obvious edits is the removal of the scene where Robbie actually discovers the Vikings in the first place. The US DVD is uncut, alternative credits aside, and has the original British dialogue as an alternative audio track.

Home video

In the United Kingdom, Hooves of Fire was released on DVD on 27 November 2000.[6] A "Collector's Edition" release adding Legend of the Lost Tribe followed on 24 November 2003 and a collection of all three specials, subtitled The Whole Herd, was released on 2 November 2009.[7] The 2009 release contained the special features from previous releases, including a 5.1 sound mix on Hooves of Fire, directors' commentary on the first two specials, the complete Hooves storyboard, behind-the-scenes footage and an interview with Peter Peake. In the United States, Hooves of Fire was released on DVD on 4 September 2001, containing the British voice cast and the same extras as the UK release.[5] A DVD adding Legend of the Lost Tribe was released on 7 October 2003, containing both the British and American dialogue tracks. This release also contained the extras from the UK edition, with the exception of the 5.1 mix and storyboards for Hooves of Fire.[8]


  1. ^ a b Deans, Jason. "Robbie the Reindeer crosses the pond". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Robbie The Reindeer Trilogy: The Whole Herd (DVD liner notes). Back & inside cover: BBC Studios. 2009.
  3. ^ "Top comic cast for Reindeer Robbie". BBC News. 26 December 2002. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  4. ^ Beck, Jerry. "DVD Review: Robbie The Reindeer and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer". AWN. Animation World Network. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Ordway, Holly. "Robbie the Reindeer". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Robbie The Reindeer: Hooves Of Fire [DVD] [1999]". Amazon UK. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Robbie The Reindeer Collector's Edition - Hooves of Fire/Legend of the Lost Tribe [DVD]". Amazon UK. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
    - "Robbie the Reindeer Trilogy - The Whole Herd [DVD]". Amazon UK. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  8. ^ Ordway, Holly. "Robbie the Reindeer: Hooves of Fire & Legend of the Lost Tribe". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Retrieved 22 November 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 January 2021, at 05:54
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