Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (1987-1996)
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles was another classic cartoon that was shown on Children’s BBC throughout the 90s. I didn’t realise until later that they actually weren’t “Hero” turtles at all, it seems that CBBC insisted that the title needed to be changed from “Ninja” turtles, because they thought that this was too violent for a younger audience. The opening theme had to be re-sung and the title sequence had to edited for viewers in the UK.
I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to know that all these years later I can still remember all of the names of the “heroes in a half-shell” quartet, plus the facts that they were all named after famous artists, they all wore different coloured bandannas, and they also all wore belts which had their initial on them. There was Donatello (purple), Leonardo (blue), Michelangelo (orange), and Raphael (red).
These turtles were transformed into superheroes and they were taught by Splinter. Throughout various episodes the Turtles face a variety of villains, most famously including Shredder, the disembodied brain Krang, and the hapless duo Bebop and Rocksteady. All of these stories were usually covered by the local news reporter April who had befriended the Turtles. And when they were finished saving the world for the day, they would have some pizza and say their now famous catchphrase “cowabunga, dudes!”.
I remember watching regularly and the cartoon was so popular with viewers that, very simply, the Turtles became the cultural phenomenon of 1990. Just about every child in Britain seemed to be a big fan of them, and I definitely include myself in that. They just seemed to be everywhere for a while and there was a huge amount of merchandise released, they endorsed just about everything, from toothpaste to anything else you can think of as seeing their image selling something practically guaranteed a sale. I also still have an old annual.
Indeed, such was their popularity that when the first Turtles film was released in 1990, it was a massive success, although this was live-action instead of animated. Also, the theme song from the film “Turtle Power” became a number one single in the UK, although the group Partners In Kryme who had this chart-topping hit were barely had of again, and many more films in various formats followed throughout the years.
The original version of the Turtles ran for a very long time, some episodes were released on DVD, and they are still around on various children’s channels today, although their present-day adventures are now computer generated and the word “Ninja” is now freely used. I hope that the younger generation today enjoy their adventures as much as myself and so many others did in the 90s, it’s great to know that they are still around.