Dennis The Menace (CBBC, 1996-1998)
This is a CBBC cartoon from the 90s that I was going to review a while ago, but I ended up doing something different when I discovered the show that preceded this one that was shown on The Children’s Channel (which featured puppetry instead of animation) in the early-90s on YouTube, so I decided to review that instead. But I feel that it’s now time to look back at this one.
Dennis The Menace first appeared in comic The Beano in 1951 (by a rather strange coincidence a character with the same name was launched in America at almost exactly the same time). He really was a troublesome ruffian, and along with his famous red and black jumper he had a punk hairstyle and attitude about 25 years before such things actually existed. In 1968 he was joined by his loyal pet dog Gnasher. In 1974 he replaced Biffo The Bear on the cover, where he remains to this day. Biffo was reported to be rather miffed.
I started to read The Beano around the 1988/1989 mark, which was when I first met Dennis And Gnasher, along with all the other characters, including Dennis’s long-suffering parents, his friends including Pie-Face, and his enemies including Walter. I also enjoyed the spin-offs including the annuals and Comic Libraries, but I never joined the fan club though. The less said about his much-publicised 1991 redesign the better though.
1993 was a rather significant year for Dennis and The Beano itself, which went full colour. His appearance changed somewhat, and I felt that the Dennis that I had got to know for the past few years had gone. Despite all this, I still very much looked forward to the release of The Beano Video at the end this year, when for the first time, several characters would be animated in various sketches. It did well enough for there to be a sequel released the following year.
By 1996 Dennis got his own cartoon show on CBBC (which was also frequently plugged in The Beano). Again, all the familiar characters from the strip featured, along with a few newcomers including The Colonel and Sergeant Slipper. Hugh Laurie was among the celebrities who voiced guest characters. I do remember really enjoying these shows, although by the second series in 1998 I was in my teens and I had left behind The Beano and CBBC behind somewhat for the next younger generation of viewers to enjoy. There was much change in this year too, as Dennis gained a younger sister called Bea.
Some episodes of Dennis The Menace were released on VHS, and there were also several repeats of the TV show on CBBC and digital channel Fox Kids into the 2000s. The Beano is still going, and in more recent years, over 65 years on from his debut, Dennis remains the master of mischief, and returned to the CBBC Channel for a new series of cartoons including Dennis And Gnasher Unleashed which was computer-generated.