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.

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.

Comic Memories – Beano And Dandy Comic Libraries.

I have already written on here about most of the comics that I used to read when I was younger now, so I decided that I should start to write about any comics variations and spin-offs that I used to enjoy too. I was thinking about sharing some memories of annuals, when I remembered the collection of Comic Libraries that were released by The Beano and The Dandy throughout the 80s and 90s.

Comic Libraries were 68-page A6 books that were extended stories featuring various characters from The Beano and The Dandy. The series launched in 1982 and there were two stories released every month, originally priced at 20p, meaning that by the time Comic Libraries ended in 1997 over 340 stories had been released for both comics. These stories were not in full colour, some of the pages featured a red tint on them and that was it. library0001

I don’t have a big collection of Comic Libraries myself but looking back just about all of the major characters of the time were given their own adventure, including Winker Watson, Cuddles and Dimples, Bananaman, Dennis The Menace and many others. Occasionally characters from other DC Thomson comics such as The Beezer took part too including Baby Crockett. winker0001

One thing that I liked about the Comic Libraries were the special spin-offs. There was also the Beano Puzzle Book series, where various characters set challenges such as wordsearches and crosswords. And there was the Dandy Cartoon Book series, which featured short strips with lots of characters. These were released less frequently than the Comic Libraries series but there were still almost 90 editions published of both and they were very enjoyable. I remember that The Beano and The Dandy also occasionally gave one of these away as a free gift. Every time some new Comic Libraries were released they were frequently advertised in both comics. library0002

By 1997 Comic Libraries were relaunched as a new series called Beano Fun-Size and Dandy Fun-Size. These carried on in the usual way with extended stories, although the pages still weren’t in full colour. By the end of the run though the stories were mostly reprints and as sales fell the series ended in 2010, meaning no more pocket sized fun for us. funsize0001

Comic Memories – The Dandy.

The Dandy was a comic that was published by DC Thomson and ran for 75 years from 1937 to 2012. It’s still rather odd to think that it’s not around any more, and the final decade or so of its life was rather grim with endless relaunches and plummeting sales. I do remember enjoying the comic for many years in the 90s though and I’ll write more about my favourite memories soon. Again the issue I’m going to review is a charity shop find (No. 2181, 10 September 1983) so here are the strips in the 20 pages.

Page 1: Korky The Cat. Korky was one of the longest-running characters in The Dandy, appearing on the cover from the first issue until 1984 when he was replaced by Desperate Dan. The story on the cover appears to be a promotion to win a T-shirt. dandy0001

Page 2: The Smasher. A boy who is always causing chaos by breaking things and being accident-prone. I remember the later version by which point the strip was just called Smasher.

Page 3: Harry And His Hippo. A boy called Harry who indeed has a pet hippo, just casually walking around as if it’s the norm which it seems to be in these type of comics.

Pages 4 & 5: Whacko! The tale of a knight who is the teacher of a chaotic class which begins “In the days of old when kids were bold/And monkeys chewed tobacco/The only master of this school/Was armour-clad Sir Whacko!”.

Page 6: Micky The Mouth. He’s “the boy with the loudest voice in the world”, which is a help and a hindrance, with the strip concluding with Micky sneezing so loudly it blows the front door off his house.

Page 7: The Burrd. The adventures of a rather crazy bird. dandy0002

Page 8: Izzy Skint. “He always is” apparently, a penniless boy who thinks of schemes to still achieve things, like using a ladder to look over a fence and watch a football match. “Just wait till I get my hands on him!”-type fun ensues.

Page 9: Tom Tum. A half-page strip with a rather tubby boy who likes to slurp any food he can. The other half of the page features an advert for the “smashing extra-long comic adventures” Dandy Comic Libraries No. 9 and No. 10.

Pages 10 & 11: Desperate Dan. A double-page story for one of the longest-serving characters and the one that I always remember being on the cover when I read The Dandy. It seems that The Dandy did have some long-runners but not as many that endured as The Beano, and there seem to be a lot more short-lived strips, I must admit I don’t remember seeing too many in this issue before, they must have all come and gone in the mid-80s, but this means that there are a lot of characters that even if they weren’t a big success were still enjoyable, and I’ll be revealing more about many favourite characters soon.

Page 12: The Desperate Dan Pie-Eaters’ Club. The letters page and the equivalent of The Dennis The Menace Fan Club. The star letter receives the prize of a futuristic Casio (Pyramid Game) watch! Again I didn’t join this club rather foolishly. dandy0003

Pages 13 & 14: The Jocks And The Geordies. A strip featuring two groups always battling one another, sort of a Scotland v England or North v South thing.

Page 15: The Tricks Of Screwy Driver. Another half-page strip with a boy who always has a trick up his sleeve. The other half of the page is a plug for the Beano Book 1984.

Pages 16 & 17: Brassneck. A boy called Charley Brand and his best friend who was a robot! Now this one I do like. dandy0004

Page 18: Desperate Dawg. A bit like Desperate Dan, but with a dog. That’s all there is to say about that one really.

Page 19: Dinah Mo. Another character in the Minnie The Minx/Beryl The Peril mould who did last into the 90s. dandy0005

Page 20: Bully Beef And Chips. Another one of the longer-running strips, Bully Beef was always really horrible, and according to this picture he is also a distant relative of Nelson Muntz. dandy0006