Herbie, an Aylesbury duck, was bought by Jacky and Paddy Randall of Croydon for their children Mikala and Colin. The film, presented by reporter Alan Towers, includes footage of Herbie waddling along the street, joining the family at breakfast and attacking the Randalls' terrier. Part of the film is a four-second shot of Herbie apparently skateboarding by himself on Colin's board. This image seemingly captured the public imagination, and the BBC received many requests for it to be shown again, which it frequently was.
The clip also appeared on other TV stations around the world, many of which also produced their own variations on the theme. There was also renewed interest in the clip in 1983 after the death of Herbie was announced and it has been repeated many times since on other TV programmes.
As a result of the item's popularity, the term "skateboarding duck" has come to signify a particular sort of quirky and essentially frivolous news story, often used to fill time at the end of a broadcast.
The item came to define Nationwide in the public mind, and the programme's final item was a sung eulogy to the skateboarding duck, with a surprising twist.
- Top 50 Greatest Sporting Animals, timesonline.co.uk, Dec 11, 2007. accessed Jan 7, 2008
- Nationwide, BBC, 5 August 1983. accessed 7 December 2014
- BBC Newswatch (the full item can be viewed in the 1969 section, this being the year Nationwide launched).