The Dennis The Menace And Gnasher Show (The Children’s Channel, 1990-1991)
I was having a think recently about what Children’s BBC programmes I remember watching that I still haven’t reviewed yet. One of them that came to mind was when comic character Dennis The Menace had his own cartoon show on CBBC which launched in 1996 and ran for many years which I liked. It was then that I remembered that in an old copy of The Beano from December 1990 there was an advert for an earlier show featuring Dennis on The Children’s Channel. Never having seen this, I wondered if any of this was on YouTube, and I was delighted to find that there was, so credit goes to John Oddy for uploading this.
The Children’s Channel was one of the earliest satellite channels to launch in Britain, coming on air as early as 1984, and it closed in 1998, by which point it had been renamed simply TCC. When Dennis came to the channel in the early-90s the amount of homes that could receive TCC in this country would still be fairly small, I certainly didn’t have access to it. I’m also fairly sure that this was the first attempt to bring an animated version of Dennis to the screen, predating even the release of the first Beano Video by a few years.
Now this is my era of Dennis. I’m not entirely sure when I first read The Beano, but it might be as early as January 1989, and I was a regular reader for about a decade. I was pleased to note that Dennis looks exactly how he did in the comic at the time, and when he was given a design overhaul sometime in 1993 things were never the same for me. This was also around the same time that The Beano went up to 30p, how scandalous.
Dennis The Menace is a character that first appeared in The Beano in 1951, he was promoted to the cover in 1974, he has also appeared in lots of spin-off books and annuals, and he remains the cover star to this day, so it seems right that he would be the one given his own chance to appear in a TV show. This wasn’t a cartoon though, it involved puppetry, with all the characters appearing in front of animated backgrounds. I’m not sure how many episodes were made but most of them seem to be only five minutes long.
Lots of other characters from the Dennis strip appear in the show. We also meet Dennis’s trusty dog Gnasher, and his parents appear too. How did they ever put up with him. Also appearing is Dennis’s rival Walter The Softy. I’m not sure if any of the stories were based on strips that appeared in The Beano but either way there were a lot of enjoyable moments. One thing that did strike me as being odd though is that Dennis appears to be voiced by an adult. I’m not sure who they are but it’s definitely not a boy doing the voice.
Either way, it was a real delight to finally see some of these shows, they were very good and I feel that they could easily have got on to CBBC or CITV and they would have been enjoyed by a much bigger audience. There’s just one thing that still bugs me… why did I never join Dennis’s Fan Club? I would’ve been sent two badges and everything. Honestly, there’s a regret of mine.