CITV Memories – Danger Mouse.

Danger Mouse (CITV, 1981-1992)

London. Home of the Cockney, the winkle stall, the Thames Gas Board, and the world’s greatest… vlcsnap-00139

…detective of course, it’s Danger Mouse! This was the cartoon with a distinctive animation style produced by Cosgrove Hall that featured the adventures of the super secret agent Danger Mouse (voiced by David Jason, who deserves to celebrated as much for his cartoon voice work as he is for his sitcom work), and his hapless hamster sidekick Penfold (voiced by Terry Scott). They both lived in a secret postbox somewhere in Mayfair. vlcsnap-00144

Whenever there was a problem anywhere in the world (or beyond) they would be contacted by the rather bumbling boss Colonel K who gives them their instructions and then they would be on their way in the Mousemobile because seemingly they were the only ones who could come to the rescue for all of us because we were reassured that wherever there is danger he’ll be there. Crumbs! vlcsnap-00147

The baddie in the show was the hoarse-voiced Baron Greenback who was always planning something. He was accompanied by an odd little furry caterpillar-type thing that sat on his desk (once again, it’s strange how things like that stay in your mind) which it seems was called Nero, and his useless henchman Stiletto. Also occasionally appearing in the show was Count Duckula who would get his own spin-off cartoon on CITV which was equally enjoyable and I’ll review that soon. vlcsnap-00145

Danger Mouse eventually ran for ten series over a decade and it became one of the most popular shows in the history of CITV, and it was also shown across the world. Throughout the 80s there was also lots of merchandise released featuring the characters including comics, games and books, and DM even appeared on the cover of Lookin, what an honour that is. vlcsnap-00146

I only really remember watching the later episodes but I found them to be very enjoyable and still fondly remember them. I recently got the DVD boxset of Danger Mouse which is great because not only does it contain every episode over ten discs, but there are also a few interesting extras, including behind-the-scenes looks on how the show was put together on CITV shows CBTV and Splash, and also the unaired pilot where the characters are voiced by different actors! In more recent years our hero donned the old eyepatch again for a revival, this time on CBBC, with DM now being voiced by Alexander Armstrong. Although I haven’t watched this version myself, it’s good to know that our hero has won over a new generation of viewers.

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CBBC Memories – The Movie Game.

The Movie Game (CBBC, 1988-1995)

I must admit that I don’t really have a huge interest in the world of film, but I do remember watching this CBBC game show. The Movie Game was hosted for the first three series by Phillip Schofield, and then Jonathon Morris hosted the next three series, followed by John Barrowman who hosted the final two series. The basic idea of the game was the same throughout the entire run, and it was played in two parts. phil0002

Three teams of two take part and in the first part of the game there are various rounds about films, such as having to answer observation questions. There was also a round where they would be given a prop and a sound effect and had to perform with it, and the studio audience would rate how well they did. There would also be a quickfire round with questions on the buzzer, and the lowest-scoring team at this point of the game would be eliminated, although they did take away some consolation prizes. I have also noticed that this is a show where the teams had a lot of mascots with them. vlcsnap-00038

The two remaining teams went into the second stage of the game which was the part that I always found the most interesting. The teams would now stand on a board which had about 16 squares on it, and they could play to answer questions worth two, three or four moves. However, they could only play for a four-move question once which was known as a “fast forward”. vlcsnap-00037

If they landed on one of three highlighted squares they could play a bonus game. This would usually be something like having to complete a challenge against the clock, or having to act out a scene in a various film genre, so this part would usually come across as a cross between Double Dare and The Generation Game, and various points would be awarded on how well they did. A celebrity guest would usually take part in one of the games too. The team that reaches the end of the board first is declared the winner, regardless of if they actually scored more points or not than the other team. vlcsnap-00042

The highest-scoring teams then returned for the grand final at the end of the series, which Phillip always saw as a good opportunity to put his best bow-tie on. The overall series winners would usually win a big star prize, such as the chance to visit a film studio in Hollywood and meet various famous actors and directors, and I’m sure they all enjoyed the experience. vlcsnap-00039

The Movie Game was something of a success for CBBC and eventually it ran for eight series.

CBBC Memories – Parallel Playback.

Parallel Playback (CBBC, 1992)

Way back in the summer of ’92, 25 years ago, I enjoyed the first series of the CBBC Saturday Morning show Parallel 9, and one of the features was the game show Parallel Playback, which was hosted by the terrific Spam Ululux, who kept something of a tight hold on the production of the show. Not only was he the host and the creator, but he was also the producer, the executive producer, and the executive executive producer!

Every week the reverse rulesmaster would be joined by his glamorous keyboard-playing assistant Skynette, and two contestants took part. The idea was that everything was done backwards, so they already had their prizes and they had to give them back to win the game! The first round (or was it the final round) was called Backfire which always brought the show to an exciting finish. vlcsnap-00806

In this round contestants were asked various questions such as having to spell words backwards and identifying things in negative pictures and if they got them right they could give five prizes back. Remember, if they gave a right answer, they got a song, but if they got it wrong, they got a gong. Our host also often liked to say “that is!” when a correct answer was given. vlcsnap-00817

The second round was Rewind, and now they could give back ten prizes for correct answers. Questions included having to identify famous people from hearing some speech of them played backwards, and there would also be backwards archive TV clips accompanied by a breathless commentary as things such as long jumpers tidying up all the sand by jumping out of the pit, and a cup of tea that appeared to spit out a sugar lump happened. Again, questions would be asked about what they had just seen. vlcsnap-00811

The final round was Back ‘N’ There, where up to 25 prizes could be given back. This was a round which featured an obstacle course which again was played backwards, which made things rather awkward as every race would end in a tie, so instead prizes were given back judged on how well the obstacles were tackled, such as building a sandcastle and unpopping some balloons. vlcsnap-00820

After this, the host would ask one final time “how did they cope?”, and the final scores would be revealed, and it would be very exciting as a contestant could win the show by the margin of just half an empty shelf. The overall winner could pick as their prize two board games from a selection on offer, while the runner-up could choose one, I’m jealous, I wish I had The Crystal Maze one. Then the show would end at the start with a lovely song. vlcsnap-00821

Why on earth did I even watch this? Parallel Playback was a rather silly game show, and a similar idea about playing games in reverse was put to better use in CITV’s Crazy Cottage a few years later. As far as other Saturday Morning game shows go, it’s not really up there with classics such as Double Dare and Run The Risk, and even though it doesn’t have an entry on the UK Game Shows website, never mind Wikipedia (there is a reference on the BBC Genome though so there), I’m classing this as a legitimate game show because I did like it and it really did happen.

CBBC Memories – Stupid.

Stupid (CBBC, 2004-2007)

Stupid was, as you might have guessed from the title, a rather silly comedy sketch show. It was first shown on the CBBC Channel before it was repeated on BBC1. The show starred comedian and non-smoker Marcus Brigstocke as King Stupid (oh really?), and in a moment when I wasn’t looking it seems that he turned into Phil Cornwell for the later editions. vlcsnap-00672

The idea of Stupid was that while in his castle the King likes to keep an eye on people around the country in whatever situation they are in case they suddenly do something stupid, and when they do we are shown what happens in the form of a sketch. The King also had a purple servant called Goober who was rather useless and they were always arguing about everything, the King often concluding that Goober is a “bog house rat”. vlcsnap-00669

There were some various characters who appeared in Stupid. Among my favourites were Makeover Mandy, and Jeff the chef who would make rather odd meals, but there were lots of others, with various scout leaders, dinner ladies, ice cream salesmen and the like all suddenly turning stupid. Perhaps the most famous sketch features a boy whose finger seems to be possessed, and he would suddenly shout “devil finger!” before losing control and making a scene. This sketch also oddly became an internet phenomenon about 12 years after it first aired, I suppose it revived interest in the show. vlcsnap-00674

Among the cast in Stupid was Miranda Hart, who seems to have appeared in a lot more TV comedy shows than I first realised. At the end of every edition, the King would make some comments on the credits as they went by, and I couldn’t help but notice (partly because for a change you could see them) that among the writers were none other than Trevor and Simon. It was good to see that they were still contributing funny stuff to children’s TV long after they left Live & Kickingvlcsnap-00668

Stupid was one of the last CBBC shows that I remember watching regularly, and two series were made, and although there isn’t much online about the show it seems that a lot of people remember it fondly. A few years after Stupid ended it seems that Brigstocke appeared in another silly CBBC comedy sketch show called Sorry, I’ve Got No Head but I don’t remember watching that one.

CBBC Memories – ChuckleVision.

ChuckleVision (CBBC, 1987-2009)

ChuckleVision was the long-running show that featured the comedy adventures of the bungling brothers Paul and Barry Chuckle from Rotherham. After being on the scene for a long time, in 1987 they got their own show, which was usually shown on Saturday mornings, and the first edition debuted on the same day as the launch of Going Live! The first couple of series were set in the studio and featured a sketch format and a couple of regular features, as the brothers cast their eye on various subjects. vlcsnap-00458

The third series featured a change with the show now having a sitcom format and the introduction of the famous title sequence, and the brothers became hapless handymen, seemingly taking on just about every job going, and not being particularly good at any of them. Of course there was always someone who turned up occasionally who hired them and warned “no slacking”, only to come back and find there was chaos. There were also a few other memorable catchphrases including “oh dear, oh dear” and “silly you!”. vlcsnap-00456

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about ChuckleVision was its longevity, it just came back year after year and it eventually ran for 21 series and almost 300 episodes that ran for 15 or 20 minutes, most of which were also repeated rather frequently on the CBBC Channel, and there aren’t that many other children’s shows that have been consistently popular for over two decades. In the mid-90s the Chuckles also had their own game show spin-off To Me… To You… which was good fun too, Harry Hill guest-starred in an episode, and there has also been a successful stage version of the show. vlcsnap-00460

Just to pick out a couple of episodes that I remember making me laugh a lot at the time, one was “Lottery Lunacy” which was first shown in 1996. The brothers want to play the lottery, but firstly they have some difficulty choosing their numbers, and then it all turns into something of a farce as they constantly lose the pound coin that they need to play the game and chase it around everywhere. There was also another good one which was set in a circus where the big show goes all wrong. vlcsnap-00455

The first two series of ChuckleVision have been released on DVD, although the packaging is a little disappointing. The episodes are spread over too many discs and are in rather flimsy cases, it seems that a filmised effect has been added to the episodes which is a real no-no, and the series seem to be being released at a rate of about one every three years, but we should be grateful that they are being released at all I suppose, with the third series coming soon. Although it seems that ChuckleVision has now ended on TV, Paul and Barry are very much still around and I’m sure they will probably be appearing in a pantomime in a town near you soon.

CBBC Memories – Potsworth And Co.

Potsworth And Co. (1990)

Potsworth And Co. was a cartoon made by Hanna-Barbera which made its debut on CBBC at the start of 1991. Just like that other popular cartoon of the time, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, CBBC changed the title of the show from the original Midnight Patrol: Adventures In The Dream Zone. The idea of the show was that when four children plus a dog went to sleep they would enter a dream world. I also remember the theme music was rather funky too.

Potsworth And Co. featured five main characters, a group called The Midnight Patrol, the main one of course being Potsworth who was a Springer Spaniel dog with an English accent, voiced by Clive Revill. The others were Carter (who owns Potsworth), Keiko, who also had a flying skateboard, Rosie, and Nick, the youngest of the group who was also Rosie’s sister and had the ability to fly, and he was rarely seen without his toy dinosaur Murphy which could also come to life.
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While they were in the Dream Zone, they had to protect everyone from having nightmares, because the main baddie in the show was The Nightmare Prince. They also try to help out The Grand Dozer who is the King of the Dream Zone who has to stay asleep, and of course The Nightmare Prince’s plans to take over and remove the world of dreams always fail in an amusing way. vlcsnap-00279

I was surprised to discover that only 13 episodes of Potsworth and Co. were made, and although they were shown on CBBC regularly, that was only half the story. In 1992 a Potsworth And Co. double-page strip began in The Beezer And Topper, and I always looked forward to reading this because it was as enjoyable as the TV show, and after that comic closed in 1993, the strip continued in The Dandy for a short while. vlcsnap-00274

I can’t think of any other TV cartoon show that has been turned into a strip by a DC Thomson comic, although CITV’s Dr. Zitbag’s Transylvania Pet Shop appeared in Buster for a while of course. Looking back at some episodes of Potsworth And Co. has been, like many other shows I have written about on here, an experience that has taken me back two decades or thereabouts to where I used to sit right in front of TV and watch all of these shows, and it felt good to be back in that place again. Although some episodes were released on VHS in the 90s, hopefully there’ll be a DVD release some day.

CBBC Memories – Bananaman.

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. vlcsnap-00162

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. vlcsnap-00168

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. vlcsnap-00170

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. vlcsnap-00171

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. vlcsnap-00173

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.