Today it’s World Penguin Day and we’re celebrating our feathery, flightless friends for always being adorable and for amusing us with their graceful but occasionally sweetly clumsy ways.
These are our favourite penguins from film and television:
5. The dancing and singing penguins of Happy Feet
From the director of Mad Max (I know, weird right?) came Happy Feet, a movie about a group of Emperor Penguins who find their soul mates through song. Starring the likes of Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, these penguins were really something else, but Robin Williams, as always, was the one who swept in and was the most charismatic, playing both Ramon and Lovelace.
4. Feathers McGraw in The Wrong Trousers
Simply animated and dead silent, somehow Feathers McGraw, the evil Penguin of the Wallace and Gromit short The Wrong Trousers, still managed to be completely terrifying. He was also involved in what remains one of the best animated chase sequences ever, and was no doubt a big help in allowing the short to win an Academy Award.
3. The penguins of Madagascar
When Madagascar came out about zoo friends Marty, Alex, Melman and Gloria, no one expected that it was actually the supporting characters of the penguins who would be the ones to steal the show. The resourceful Rico, Private, Kowalski, and Skipper (the leader, who is incidentally voiced by Tom McGrath, the director of the Madagascar trilogy) even got their own TV series and spin-off movie.
2. The Penguin of Batman Returns
Who would have thought that penguins make such good villains? Our second penguin baddy to make our top five is The Penguin of Batman Returns, brought to life in an inimitable performance by Danny DeVito. Born deformed, the character is abandoned by his parents and then raised by penguins, and he remains one of the best designed and fascinating villains of all superhero movies:
Another stop-motion clay animated penguin, though much more pleasant, Pingu was a staple TV character for many of our childhoods. Playful and curious, but occasionally naughty, Pingu was a delight to watch, even if you couldn’t understand his made-up language. He could only be rivalled in cuteness by his little sister, Pinga. They just don’t make shows like they used to.
Wheezy in Toy Story 2
The dancing penguins in Mary Poppins