Bananaman (CBBC, 1983-1986)
In 1980, DC Thomson launched a new comic called Nutty. Among the new wave of characters that were introduced was Bananaman, a great new superhero for the 80s, essentially a parody of Superman/Batman-style characters. Eric is an ordinary boy who lives at 29 Acacia Road, but when he eats a banana… he transforms into Bananaman! Because he was such a popular character, in 1983 he came to CBBC in his own animated TV series.
Among his various abilities, Bananaman had super strength and the ability to fly. Naturally tackling various villains and saving the day was something that he was always able to do. There were a few other characters in the show including policeman Chief O’Reilly. Whenever he had a problem, he would contact Eric to see if he could help out, not realising that Eric and Bananaman were the same person. Also featuring was Bananaman’s biggest enemy General Blight, TV reporter Fiona who was his love interest, and he also had a sidekick who was a talking crow who appeared occasionally.
One of the best things about the show was that the voices were provided by comedy stars The Goodies! Even though their TV show ended in 1982, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor were persuaded to reform and provide a great range of funny voices for all the characters, with Graeme having the honour of voicing Bananaman himself, although they all put in good performances.
Bananaman would eventually run to 40 five-minute episodes over three series before ending in 1986, but our hero endured long after that. In 1985 when Nutty closed, Bananaman was one of the few strips to continue as he moved to The Dandy. Also, when The Dandy closed in 2012, he moved again to The Beano, making him a character who has now appeared regularly in three comics.
Bananaman was popular enough in the 80s to have his own spin-off annual which featured new strips, where he was described on the cover as “Your TV Hero”, and repeats of Bananaman continued on CBBC until as late as 1999! Although in the 90s there were two videos released featuring cartoon versions of characters in The Beano, I don’t think they ever did the equivalent of one for The Dandy, so Bananaman was the only character in that comic to make the small screen, which was a shame as it would have been great to have seen the likes of Desperate Dan and Korky The Cat have their moment of fame too.
Whilst doing some research on this piece, I was very pleased to discover that Bananaman has been released on DVD, so this is something that I should add to my DVD collection very soon because I was a great fan of the comic strip and the show, I’m fairly sure I saw most of the episodes during a repeat run in the early-90s, and it’s great to know that he’s still around as a comic star to this day.