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Shaun the Sheep is a British stop-motion animated children's television series produced by Aardman Animations, and commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), a constituent member of the consortium of German public-broadcasting institutions, ARD. It is a spin-off of the Wallace and Gromit franchise, starring Shaun from A Close Shave as its main protagonist. It first aired in the UK on CBBC in March 2007. The show consists of 80 episodes in 2 series, and the third series is scheduled to air on 25 February 2013. The series has also inspired its own spin-off show, Timmy Time, which is aimed at younger viewers. The show has been broadcast in 180 countries around the world.
A premise of the series is that Shaun the sheep exhibits human intelligence, creativity, and behaviour in a farm setting, which usually provides a situational comedy conflict which Shaun must resolve before the end of each episode. Recurring themes include the characters evading the sheepdog Bitzer (though he is sometimes with the sheep in their escapades) and avoiding discovery by the Farmer.
Episodes are very much a combination of slapstick and classic silent comedy in Aardman’s recognizable animation style. There is no spoken dialogue, even by human characters. In this way it is reminiscent of silent comedy films. However, simple grunts, bleats, and sighs are all used to add subtle expression to each character's moods and feelings.
Based on the theme song, a longer, compact disc version was released under the title "Life's a Treat", performed by Vic Reeves.
Shaun the Sheep made his first "official" appearance 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 an evil mechanical dog that wants to turn them all into dog food for profit. He was named Shaun as a pun on the word "shorn" after he was accidentally subjected to Wallace's automated sheep shearing machine. Shaun does show a hint of intelligence, and he proves to be a major help in saving the day. Shaun and the entire herd are also seen living with the inventive duo (much to Wallace's annoyance since they eat everything in sight, including furniture and clothes as well as his beloved cheese), though none of this seems to be part of this series' canon, or it can be surmised Wallace simply sold off the flock to The Farmer where Shaun and his friends now reside.
Shaun also made a brief cameo appearance with the duo in one of the episodes (entitled "Shopper 13") of Wallace & Gromit's "Cracking Contraptions" web series of shorts.