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Baaarmy sheep jingle goes head to head with the Frog...

We have endured Mr Blobby, Bo' Selecta's Proper Crimbo, but now a flock of Lake District sheep are hoping to become the latest novelty Christmas record to infect your brain.

Lancashire Telegraph:

The Baarmy Sheep' as they have been dubbed by their makers Cumbria Tourist Board, will be taking on the Crazy Frog's festive single Jingle Bells which is tipped for Christmas chart domination this year.

In a pre-emptive strike on Wednesday - the day before the Frog got his first airplay CTB chairman Eric Robson launched the sheep's own bleated version of the Christmas classic.

Posing for the cameras before a flock of photogenic Herdwicks, he turned on the fighting talk: "Christmas may be the season of goodwill to all men but not Crazy Frogs!

"Everybody hates the bloody Crazy Frog - here's an alternative, plus he's a cartoon and our sheep are the real thing."

In response Jamster - the promoters of the animated amphibian - said: "We're not worried. Crazy Frog is the unique sound of a bloke imitating a motorbike. You can hear the sound of a sheep any time you go for a drive in the country."

But for all the posturing, akin to the infamous Blur vs Oasis Britpop battle, the chart war will be a virtual one. As a membership organisation paid for by Lake District businesses, the tourist board was wary of the costs involved in actually promoting a commercial single and opted for free downloads only, which are not included in the official Top 40.

Instead, the board hopes to beat the Frog in a numbers game, winning more downloads, more fans and, of course, attracting people to the www.golakes.co.uk website from where they can download the song and book a Lake District break.

Fans can also download the accompanying video created by Tony Wilkinson, of Red Onion Video, at Witherslack, which features tinsel-clad singing' Herdwicks.

This is the second time the Baarmy Sheep have taken on the Swedish frog after their very own ring tone was released in June.

It was a publicity coup for CTB which clinched international headlines and generated 70,000 hits to www.golakes.co.uk.

So far the Christmas launch has attracted similar attention and has thrust mix master Charley Darbishire, of Ulverston's Bright Blue Studios, into the limelight.

"It's a great feeling, the single's been on GMTV, Radio Ulster, Radio Cumbria and Channel Four News. I'm hoping it's going to be a hit. What could be a better finale at the office Christmas party than everyone dancing to Jingle Bells sung by sheep?"

It would be a satisfying reward for Mr Darbishire who painstakingly made the flock bleat in tune to not only Jingle Bells, but a Christmas megamix featuring Good King Wenceslas, Hark the Herald and, of course, While Shepherds Watch their Flocks.

"They've got a very limited singing range," he explained. "You have to take your best quality mics, baa at them and they baa back. You then take one that's a certain note, put it into the sampler and play it across the keyboard."

It is all a far cry from the high-brow Romantic poets which have been the main stars for promoting the tranquil joys of the Lake District.

But Mr Robson was sure Wordsworth would be not be spinning in his grave: "He had a fine sense of humour. He would have thoroughly enjoyed it!"



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