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Saturday Morning Cartoon Club: Danger Mouse (1981-1992)


Grab your bowl of cereal and put on your PJs and join us for Saturday Morning Cartoon Club, AFA's feature that celebrates the cartoons we grew up with (and the modern shows that keep their spirit alive).

What do you get when you cross James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, a Pythonesque sense of humour and... a mouse? Why, the classic British toon Danger Mouse, of course!

First broadcast on ITV in 1981 and produced by Cosgrove Hall Films, it went on to run for 11 years, and spawned spin-off series Count Duckula. The series introduced Danger Mouse- "the greatest secret agent in the world", according to his iconic theme tune. From his secret base in a pillar box near 221b Baker Street, he and his faithful but cowardly sidekick, (a hamster named Penfold) foil various plots and go on adventures. Taking orders from a mustachioed Chinchilla named Colonel K, he takes on villains such as Baron Greenback and Doctor Augustus Crumhorn III, and saves the world time after time.

The series takes obvious cues from Bond and various other spy-based films and TV, but DM himself is apparently most closely modeled on the  1960's spy series Danger Man (broadcast under the somewhat less imaginative Secret Agent in the US). But it's most fondly remembered for its sense of humour. The show had witty scripts full of jokes that clearly went over the head of its younger audience. Years before the likes of The Simpsons, Danger Mouse became a hit with adults as well as children.  At its peak, its viewing figures hit a high of 21 million.  The series has also aired in the United States, first appearing on Nickelodeon in 1984. 

The voice cast also played a big part in how well the show worked. David Jason, best known for the sitcom Only Fools and Horses, played DM and his interplay with Terry Scott, who played Penfold, is at the heart of the show's success. Jason also doubled up as the narrator, whose hilarious asides and fourth-wall  breaking was way ahead of its time.


From a modern perspective the animation may look crude but the writing absolutely still holds up. In 2015 a reboot was launched, a collaboration between the BBC and Ireland's Boulder Media. The new series may be a heck of a lot slicker but it does (improbably) feel thoroughly in the spirit of the original. Casting aside nostalgia goggles, in many ways it actually surpasses the original. 

Be that as it may, the original Danger Mouse remains one of the most iconic an ground-breaking animated series in UK TV history. And for that, it should not be forgotten.

The classic version has remained popular, airing regularly over the years,  selling well on DVD and screening on Cartoon Network, Boomerang and The BBC.

And if you want to, you can check it out for yourself on Netflix both in the UK and the US and now also on Paramount Plus in the US. The 2015 version is also available from the same places, plus BBC iPlayer in the UK. You can also watch full episodes and clips of both versions on the official Danger Mouse YouTube page.


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