Future safe for Donald Duck despite viewer decline

Future safe for Donald Duck despite viewer decline
As usual millions of Swedes tuned in to the traditional "Donald Duck and his friends wish you all a Merry Christmas" show on national television on Christmas Eve. The irascible duck's popularity has however waned in recent years.

Donald Duck may have struggled under Mickey Mouse’s shadow, but in Sweden millions of people have tuned in to watch the hot-headed Disney character’s Christmas special every year since 1959.

More than 3.5 million people tuned in to the show aired on Sveriges Television (SVT), close to 40 percent of the Swedish population.

“Swedish television started to show Donald Duck on the afternoon of Christmas Eve in 1959. It was very popular since it was one of the first animated shows on TV,” said spokeswoman Ulrika Lundgren Borg at SVT.

Despite the huge audience the irascible duck’s show has dropped by one million since 1997, the height of the Christmas special’s popularity.

Still, SVT programming director Thomas Nilsson said the future of the sailor suit-wearing hero, known as Kalle Anka in the Nordic country, was safe in Sweden.

“Kalle has been the number one or number two (programme) for years. We are very far from a critical point,” Nilsson said to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Donald Duck made his debut in 1934, in a Disney Silly Symphony cartoon, “The Wise Little Hen.”

His often unintelligible dialogue, made famous by voice actor Clarence Nash, included memorable lines such as “Oh, yeah?” and “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!”