Originally a 5 minute film by Aardman Animations of Wallace & Gromit fame made in 1989 as a twist on the man in the street style of interview. Here the "men" in the street were animated as animals using claymation. Members of the public were asked what they thought about the living conditions of animals in the zoo, and of their own living conditions and then animated as zoo animals, leading to some rather amusing juxtaposition between the lines and the situation.
The film proved popular and the Electricity Board employed Aardman to make adverts for them in a similar vein. Unfortunately most people remember them as the British Gas ads.
In 2003 multiple seasons of 10 minute programmes in the style of the original film were made and received a reasonable reception. Most of the comedy came from the careful choice of animal and location, leading to a philosophical amoeba talking about "how we are all just bags of water really" or an alligator praising her local neighbourhood (a sewer) and denying she had a damp problem.
The series also pokes fun at the way that people try and talk up to the microphone, trying to sound cleverer than they are or to speak in sound bites.
In 2007, an American version was produced for CBS, using American interviewees. Sadly, it barely got three episodes aired from its initial six-episode commitment before being canceled.
- All There in the Manual: Most of the characters do have names, but they're only used in secondary material, not in the series itself.
- Angry Guard Dog: Season 1 features a rather grizzled German Shepard police dog who speaks in a low, intimidating voice. There's also a security guard bulldog, but he's not nearly as angry, coming off as more of a thoughtful old man.
- Animal Jingoism: Turns up whenever any of the interviewees voice disapproving opinions of particular animals. Probably the best example is during the Pet Shop episode, in which a small dog gives a lecture on why stick insects are 'stupid' right next to a tank full of stick insects.
- Butt-Monkey: Clement the Bloodhound suffers a lot in the show, claiming he's had a lot of things wrong with him. In Season 2, his suffering is used for comic relief. His kennel is struck by lightning, he's humiliated in a dog show, and is put in a dungeon after insulting the royal family.
- Camp Gay: A trio of ravens at the Tower of London act quite flamboyant, and in "Monarchy Business", one of them is jokingly told by his friend that there's always a 'queen' for him; 'queen', in this context, being slang for an effeminate gay man.note
- Candid Camera Prank: A weird inversion. People knew they were being recorded but had no idea what they would be animated as. Some probably got a bit of a shock.
- Christmas Episode
- Circus Episode: An episode is themed around circuses and features interviews with real-life circus performers.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: The seal in the circus episode seems a bit off the wall.
- The old laughing rabbit in Season 2 as well.
- The Couch: All of Trixie and Captain Cuddlepuss' scenes are on a couch.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The point of the original short. Most of the dialogue comes from the Vox Pops of people talking about their own home lives. It works just as well coming from the mouths of animals. The Series took this idea and ran with it.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Fluffy's.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Frank the Tortoise appeared in the Heat Electric adverts.
- Evil Chef: An ant comments about a crazed hotel chef who threw knives at people.
- Female Feline, Male Mutt: Inverted with Trixie and Captain Cuddlepuss.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the Beach episode, a newspaper is briefly blown across the Octopus' face during his interview. What's the headline on said newspaper? 'TALKING OCTOPUS ESCAPES GM PET CLINIC'.
- Funny Background Event: The penguins in the original short, watch for the two in the background.
- The Lab Rat: Several appear in Episode 3, played by a few real-life scientists.
- Lazy Husband: It is implied that Captain Cuddlepuss is this.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The show has a large cast of characters, although there are some recurring animals. These include dull Fluffy the Hamster, cat and dog sofa dwellers Trixie and Captain Cuddlepuss, long-suffering Clement the Bloodhound, garden slugs Gary and Nigel, rats Sid and Nancy, Victor the Geordie Mouse, and Frank the Tortoise who appeared in the early adverts.
- Rant Comedy
- Running Gag: Literally with Earl the Greyhound who never finishes an interview due to being in a dog race.
- Something Completely Different: The episode "Is Anyone Out There?" features a few aliens as interviewees, something not seen in any other episode. Fittingly, most of them are voiced by immigrants to the UK.
- Sewer Gator: An alligator appears in the "Animals in the Hood" episode that praises her sewer dwelling and dismisses the idea it could have a dampness problem.
- Tactful Translation: In "Monarchy Business", a Panda asks his companion what she thinks of Buckingham palace in Chinese (both were voiced by actual Chinese tourists), and receives a very short and harsh-sounding response (which may have just been a case of Asian Rudeness). He then proceeds to tell the interviewer that she thinks it's wonderful in several different ways before smiling awkwardly.
- Those Two Guys: The slugs Gary and Nigel.
- The Tramp: Two dogs called Spanner and Trousers.
- Visual Pun: Filled with these, such as a family of moles discussing what to do about the 'leak' in their roof (with a certain vegetable clearly visible in the dirt overhead) or a crab saying "Oh, I've pulled a muscle" (at the end of an episode about love and whilst holding a clam).
- The interviews with a delightful couple of visually impaired old ladies are animated as - what else? - bats.
- Vox Pops: The general nature of the clips.