Around The World With Willy Fog (1983)/Willy Fog 2 (1993-1994)
This is another cartoon that found fame after being shown on CBBC in the 80s. Dogtanian And The Three Muskehounds (that I reviewed recently) had been a big success, and the same production company then decided that it would be a good idea to create a new show with a similar idea. And well, it definitely wasn’t a case of “once bitten, twice shy” with viewers, as this one did very well too.
Around The World With Willy Fog was set in 1872 and based on the 19th century novel Around The World In Eighty Days, which featured a character called Phileas Fogg. Change them into a talking lion, and you’ve got a TV show. Again, the voices were originally recorded in Spanish, so the dialogue had to be dubbed into English by a different cast. Also, like Dogtanian, the opening theme song seemed to go on for about two minutes.
Fog is a well-spoken and distinguished gentleman who lives in London and can often hear the chimes of Big Ben from his home. He attends The Reform Club and says that he can travel around the world in just 80 days, and a large amount of money is bet on whether he can do it or not. As the episodes go by, we see Willy, along with his companions Rigodon the butler and Tico the mouse, visit various cities and encounter the locals.
Of course, in those days he wouldn’t be able to get on a plane, can our intrepid explorer achieve his aim and earn himself fame and fortune? It wouldn’t be easy. Fog has been accused of being involved in a bank robbery, will this come back to haunt him? Someone out there might be trying to thwart him. Oh, and he marries a cat, too. All of the other characters in the show are animals too, so we meet a lot of cats, dogs and so on along the way, and a narrator explained the situation at the start and end of every episode.
The show launched on CBBC in 1987 and did become popular with viewers, as the weeks passed, many were intrigued as to whether the task would be completed. When the 26th and final episode was shown for the first time on 28 April 1988, such was the excitement about the climax, Broom Cupboard presenter Andy Crane declared it to be National Willy Fog Day, and there are some people who still celebrate this occasion all these years later.
I remember watching this show around the early-90s in a repeat run, and although I enjoyed it, I think that I preferred Dogtanian more. Then, about a decade later, there was a sequel series simply called Willy Fog 2, where our hero went on another quest that lasted 26 episodes, and this was also shown on CBBC, although I don’t remember it as much. The show has also been released on DVD, and it has even been turned into a musical.