Lord love a duck — Northern Ireland's brightest acting talent has splashed its way from hotel bathroom to soap super-stardom.
Eagle-eyed viewers of Coronation Street may have noticed a bright yellow duck in the Streetcars office sharing a scene with the firm's co-owner Lloyd Mullaney (Craig Charles) during Monday night's episode.
The lucky duck making its debut on the famous Corrie cobblestones was none other than the Hastings duck, for 15 years a special guest in hotels owned by the Northern Ireland company.
A spokeswoman for Hastings said she had “no idea” how the cunning duck had infiltrated the notoriously security-conscious Corrie set.
But she revealed that guests in the company's hotels in Northern Ireland — which include Newcastle's Slieve Donard Resort and Spa and Belfast's Stormont and Europa hotels — are encouraged to take a duck with them at the end of their stay as a keepsake.
“We invite guests to take them on holiday and send us their photos — we get a huge assortment which we print in our magazine Crown.”
When the duck was pioneered as a company mascot over 10 years ago, Hastings could not have foreseen acting cameos in the UK's most popular soap operas.
“We started putting the ducks in bathrooms 15 years ago to relieve executive stress. Now we order 60,000 a year as well as Christmas ducks, Valentine's ducks, duc a l'orange (for July 12), St Patrick's Day ducks, spa ducks and bride and groom ducks.”
The globe-paddling Hastings duck has been pictured at the Taj Mahal, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Grand Palace of Bangkok and other renowned sites.
This is not the first time the daring duck has fetched up on the set of a soap opera — it made an appearance amid the less sophisticated farm animals of Yorkshire soap Emmerdale some time ago.
It's not yet clear if the duck will be woven into the Street's storylines, and potentially become the soap's biggest Northern Ireland star since Charles Lawson, who played moustachioed Jim McDonald — the dad of Streetcars co-owner Steve. Or its presence could simply herald a nice ‘Weatherfield' for ducks, a rainy season in the fictional Greater Manchester town where Corrie is set. But it's hoped that the pressures of soapstardom, such as roller coaster romances with co-stars and being chased by paparazzi, will be water off this particular duck's back.