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Cult Cartoon Essentials: Dangermouse

Danger Mouse features the eponymous Danger Mouse, (voiced by David Jason) an English mouse who naturally is the world’s greatest secret agent – so secret, in fact, that his codename has a codename. He is assisted by Penfold (voiced by Terry Scott) a timid, bespectacled hamster, who regularly needs saving from the clutches of Baron Silas Greenback (How is that not a band name?) and his crow henchman Stiletto Mafiosa.

The show is a loose parody of British spy fiction, particularly James Bond and can be noted for its quick-witted, very English humour. Although all the characters in the series are animals, the adventures of Danger Mouse take place alongside the human world. This means that there are various examples of a mouse-sized Danger Mouse walking through human-scale sets, not least, living inside a normal size pillar box.

dm 2

By 1983, Danger Mouse viewing figures hit an all-time high of 21 million viewers, the kind of figures that are today reserved for World Cup games or Opening Ceremonies. To keep the budget down the cartoons made frequent use of repeated footage and “in the dark” sequences (black with eyeballs visible only, or, in Danger Mouse’s case, simply one eyeball). A recurring setting for episodes was “The North Pole” – presumably chosen because the white, snow-covered backgrounds required minimal painting and colouring.

Though the animation may appear limited today, the sharp silliness still feels gloriously fresh and funny. The show’s 10 Minute instalments, bursting with imagination and all manner of surreal moments. A favourite has to be the episode where the characters start muddling up their words which is revealed to be down to the script being badly typed. DM’s adventures also later inspired spin off called Count Duckula, though the version of the character in Danger Mouse does differ to an extent.

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Stephen Pryde-Jarman is a Cult TV and Film journalist, award winning short story writer, playwright and screenwriter. A natural hoarder, second hand shopping fulfils his basic human need for hunter-gathering; but rummaging through a charity shop’s bric-a-brac shelf also brought him the inspiration for his novel Rubble Girl having seen a picture of a Blitz survivor sat amongst the rubble of her house with a cup and saucer. Rubble Girl has been described as " thought-provoking" and "fast paced ... with plenty of twists and turns." Amazon.

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