Secret Squirrel (NBC, 1965-1966)
This is yet another memorable Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I first saw many years after being originally shown in this country (and there are a few more to come after this). And it’s another one that I saw for the first time during The CBBC Breakfast Show strand back in 1997, seemingly when they had run out of episodes of Help! It’s The Hair Bear Bunch.
This is another “putting a talking animal into an unusual situation” cartoon. In more recent years, a lot of squirrels have turned up near where I live, they are always running around, or climbing up walls or over fences, and it does always amuse me to see them. But did you know that squirrels can also be spies? Well, yes they can it seems.
Secret Squirrel was always ready to take part in some “bushy-tailed espionage” (as it was memorably described). And this was another one that had a great opening theme (watching a few bits again recently must’ve been the first time that I had seen this when it wasn’t around 7:30am and I was half-asleep), and they also made the most of the silly sound effects that were available.
This was essentially a parody of spy films, as our hero Agent 000 (who seemed to wear his hat over his eyes somehow) would be given his latest mission by the International Sneaky Service. But even he couldn’t do it all by himself, and he would often be assisted by his sidekick Morocco Mole. He would take on several villains, using the gadgets that he had been provided with, just like, er, Inspector Gadget.
There’s no doubt that he was the furriest secret agent around. Another notable thing is that Secret Squirrel was voiced by Mel Blanc, who was famous for voicing some of the most popular cartoon characters of this era (including most of the Looney Tunes), and this explains why he does sound a little like Sylvester The Cat. There were 26 episodes in two series in the mid-60s.
And unlike some of the other cartoons that I have reviewed recently, there eventually was a revival of this in 1993 for one series, which was renamed Super Secret Secret Squirrel, although I haven’t seen that. The repeats on CBBC continued until as late as 1999 (so they clearly got their money’s worth), along with later turning up on other channels including Boomerang.