Danger Mouse (1981 TV series)
Danger Mouse is a British animated television series produced by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames Television. It featured the eponymous Danger Mouse who worked as a secret agent. It was a parody of British spy fiction, particularly the Danger Man series and James Bond. It originally ran from 28 September 1981 to 19 March 1992 on the ITV network.
|Narrated by||David Jason|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||10|
|No. of episodes||161 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||5–25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Cosgrove Hall Films|
|Picture format||4:3 576i|
|Original release||28 September 1981 –|
19 March 1992
|Danger Mouse official site|
- Danger Mouse (voiced by David Jason) is the title character and primary protagonist of the series. He is often called the world's greatest secret agent—so secret, in fact, that his codename has a codename. He speaks 34 languages fluently, including some extraterrestrial ones. His skills are of a wide variety, including the ability to shatter metal with his voice, perform military style push-ups on his index finger, and reach a 7th level of meditation. He is also a practitioner of the ancient martial art of Kung Moggy. He is referred to as the "White Wonder" and "Wretched Rodent" by his nemesis, Baron Greenback. His catchphrases include "Good grief" when he becomes upset or shocked, "Penfold, shush" when his assistant makes a foolish remark, and "Blast" when his adventure inevitably goes awry. He was originally going to be brown; however, the creators thought that he and Penfold needed to be different colors.
- Penfold (voiced by Terry Scott) is a timid, bespectacled hamster, and Danger Mouse's reluctant assistant. (Penfold is often mistaken for a mole; however, Brian Cosgrove has stated Penfold is supposed to be a hamster.) Penfold stands just over half the height of Danger Mouse, and always wears thick round glasses and a crumpled blue suit with a white shirt and a yellow and black striped tie. He is the sidekick of Danger Mouse, whom he calls "Chief". He is a coward (codenamed "The Jigsaw", as he goes to pieces when a problem occurs), becoming terrified at any sign of danger. He appears in every episode accompanying Danger Mouse, and he is often captured or getting himself into other dangerous situations before needing to be rescued by Danger Mouse. His main catchphrase is "Crumbs, DM!" and others include "Oh, heck!", "Oh, fiddle!" and "Oh, carrots!", all said when things go wrong. He also says "Coming, Chief!" when Danger Mouse wants to speak with him. Nevertheless, he appears to have some moral fibre, and is willing to resist Evil when things begin to go wrong—at least temporarily. He is a self-proclaimed expert in the martial art referred to in the cartoon as "kung moggy", though his skills do not do him much good in practice. He almost always makes ridiculous responses, whether by misunderstanding or mistaking as a joke, to which DM tells him to "shush".
- Colonel K (voiced by Edward Kelsey): Danger Mouse's boss; often mistaken for a walrus, it was revealed in an issue of Look-in magazine that he is, in fact, a chinchilla. He previously worked for Special Branch, where he was known as Special K. He is a champion piano-thrower, decorated judo expert, the first to climb Mount Everest on a pogo stick, was once an Eskimo, took up tap-dancing, is a former kleptomaniac, and cheats at croquet. During the last two seasons, he became more absent-minded, tending to frustrate both DM and Penfold with his tendency to ramble nonsense. Often when it is time for the Colonel to say "over and out", he forgets what the phrase is in a temporary case of memory loss. Other times, he becomes frustrated when Danger Mouse does not immediately respond, such as if he is in the middle of a yoga exercise.
- Baron Silas Greenback (voiced by Edward Kelsey): The recurring villain and Danger Mouse's archenemy; a toad with a wheezy voice, although, sometimes, he was referred to as a frog. Known as Baron Greenteeth in the unbroadcast pilot episode. Commonly known as the "Terrible Toad". In America, "Greenback" is slang for dollar bill in many regions, adding to the sense of his commercial greed. Allegedly, he turned to a life of crime as a schoolboy when other children stole his bicycle and let all the air out of its tyres. In the 2015 revival series, the character was renamed Baron Silas von Greenback, and was given a German accent.
- Stiletto Mafiosa (voiced by Brian Trueman): Greenback's henchman; a crow. He always called Greenback "Barone", Italian for "Baron". In the original British version, he speaks with an Italian accent; this was changed to a Cockney accent for U.S. distribution (i.e., Nickelodeon) to avoid offending Italian-Americans, and all references to his surname were removed as well, although the Italian word "Barone" was retained. In several episodes, a short silence after his first name is said and the next word is quite obvious. The original voicing has been restored on all U.S. VHS and DVD releases and during its Cheez TV run.
- Leatherhead (voiced by Terry Scott): Greenback's other crow henchman. Even less intelligent than Stiletto, he only appeared in several of the early episodes, where he spent most of his time reading comic books.
- Nero (sounds provided by David Jason): Greenback's pet. A fluffy white caterpillar (equivalent to the stereotypical white cat frequently associated with arch villains, particularly Ernst Stavro Blofeld). He is a non-speaking character, although his noises and laugh are supplied by David Jason's voice sped up. Readily understood by Greenback and, less frequently, by Stiletto. At one time, he is shown to have a form of telekinesis after falling into one of Greenback's inventions, proving to be just as much a match to DM and Penfold as his master. However, he lost this power when he was drenched in water. In the special features of Danger Mouse cartoons, audiences were informed that Nero is actually the mastermind of Greenback's schemes.
- Isambard Sinclair/The Narrator (voiced by David Jason): The unseen narrator, who occasionally interacts with the characters, sometimes to the point of halting the plot for one reason or another (in one episode, he accidentally sends Danger Mouse back in time). He often voices his disdain for the show and his job, to the point that he refuses outright to narrate some episodes altogether. He usually comments at the end of every episode when the credits roll before the end theme tune begins. These comments—along with the episode breaks—have been cut from some releases, greatly reducing the size of this character's part.
- Agent 57: Initially, a master of disguise, Agent 57 later gained the ability to alter his own molecular structure to transform into any appearance he wished. This ability went temporarily out of control in one episode when he contracted a cold, causing him to involuntarily change shape whenever he sneezed. His original appearance was never shown, and as a result of changing his appearance so many times, he eventually forgot what it was.
- Miss Boathook: Colonel K's secretary, only referred to by the colonel and never seen (though sometimes heard). In some versions, the Colonel's secretary is referred to as Miss Prentergast or Miss Hackett.
- Count Duckula (voiced by David Jason): A fame-obsessed vampire duck who wants to appear in television. However, his utter lack of anything approaching talent makes his attempts to "entertain" rather terrifying (he has been known to use his "act" as a torture device). This resulted in a spin-off series, titled Count Duckula, starring the Count himself. The two versions of the character differ, however; the character featured in Danger Mouse is not a vegetarian, makes far greater use of his vampiric magic, and has an accent consisting of a lisp and a stutter, as well as occasional stuttering and duck-like squawks and quacks.
- Doctor Augustus P. Crumhorn III (voiced by Jimmy Hibbert): A mad scientist wolf, he recurred as Danger Mouse's adversary less frequently than Baron Greenback (in four episodes in total). In one episode, he attempted to undermine Danger Mouse by metamorphosing into a Shirley Temple lookalike. In only one episode, "Penfold Transformed", as opposed to his stage name "Augustus P. Crumhorn III", he lists his full name as, "Aloisius Julian Philibert Elphinstone Eugene Dionysis Barry Manilow Crumhorn", omitting both Augustus and the III. Crumhorn and Greenback were at odds; once Crumhorn kidnapped Penfold and Penfold managed to escape simply because the two villains were too busy quarreling to notice his absence.
- Fifi: Fifi is an unseen character mentioned occasionally throughout the show, but Danger Mouse is reluctant to discuss her. According to Cosgrove Hall, she is Danger Mouse's ex-girlfriend.
- Flying Officer Buggles Pigeon (voiced by David Jason): Another of Colonel K's agents who came to the aid of Danger Mouse and Penfold in the episode, "Chicken Run," and appeared in several episodes afterward. His name is a reference to James Bigglesworth.
- Penfold's Aunt (voiced by Brian Trueman): Penfold's formidable aunt from Abergavenny, Wales, who sends him cookies in the episode, "The Statue of Liberty Caper". The fact that she is Welsh is stated by the piece of a witch's broom in "The Four Tasks of Danger Mouse". The broom is her fifth cousin. She denies that Danger Mouse is a real secret agent and says that he and Penfold are just playing silly pretend games.
- Professor Heinrich Von Squawkencluck: (voiced by Edward Kelsey) Mad scientist/inventor/boffin. Inventor of the Mark III, Danger Mouse's flying car, and the Space Hopper, his personal spacecraft. A mole, despite his avian name (which comes from his first appearance on the show, in which, he was engaged in hormone experiments to grow chickens to enormous sizes). He speaks in a broken German accent. Penfold is naturally leery of the professor, as he often winds up on the wrong side of his experiments.
The show was intended to have a more serious tone as seen in the pilot episode but Mike Harding gave Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall the idea to make the series silly. Mike said: "The characters had got stuck in reality and were doing James Bond type things rooted in the solid real world. I argued that once you invented a Mouse Secret Agent then all of creation and a good chunk of not creation was his oyster. In other words we could be as barmy (crazy) as we wanted."
On 4 June 1984, the show was the first British cartoon to appear on Nickelodeon and became one of the earliest ones to be in syndication in America, as it appealed to both preteens and adults with its quick-witted English humour. It was often compared to American audiences as a British equivalent of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, due to its gentle satire of politics and outrageous plots.
In the UK, Channel 4's 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows, the show came third, beaten only by The Muppet Show and The Simpsons. It returned to terrestrial television after the BBC purchased episodes of it to broadcast in its daytime schedules with its first broadcast on 12 February 2007.
The show was expensive to make, sometimes needing 2,000 drawings thus footage was reused while certain scenes were set in the North Pole or "in the dark" (i.e. black with eyeballs visible only, or, in Danger Mouse's case, simply one eyeball) as a cost-cutting measure. This time-and-money saving device was cheerfully admitted by both Brian Cosgrove, who conceived the character and the show, and Brian Trueman, who wrote almost all the scripts from the beginning.
In other mediaEdit
A long-running comic strip adaptation, written by Angus P. Allan and illustrated by Arthur Ranson, ran in Look-in magazine and was syndicated in various other magazines. Ranson also provided some backdrops for the show. Allan and Ranson's work was highly appreciated by Cosgrove Hall, and the pair were awarded an "Oh Goodness!, Oh Crikey!" award in appreciation of their services. Some of Allan's stories were adapted for the show, although Allan's name was misspelled "Angus Allen". Artist Ranson later went on to illustrate Judge Anderson in the UK comic 2000 AD.
A series of video games based on the character also appeared. The first were Danger Mouse in Double Trouble and Danger Mouse in the Black Forest Chateau (both in 1984) followed by Danger Mouse in Making Whoopee! in 1985.
Two mobile games were published by ZED Worldwide; Danger Mouse: Quiz in 2010 and Danger Mouse in 2011.
Some stories were also available as read-along cassettes with accompanying books. They were re-read by the cast for audio.
During its run, the show spawned a wide range of merchandise, including storybooks, hardback annuals, jigsaw puzzles, a Panini sticker album, View-Master reels, and of course, VHS releases. In the years since, products have continued to sell, often aimed at the now-adult audience which grew up with it, such as T-shirts, mugs, key rings, fridge magnets and posters. To coincide with the 25th anniversary, Cosgrove Hall also licensed rights to a number of companies to produce a range of new anniversary merchandise including Blues Clothing (women's and girls' underwear and sleepwear) and Concept 2 Creation (collectible figurines).
FremantleMedia launched a webshop run by Metrostar e-commerce where a wide variety of goods were for sale, including the CD Audio adaptation of two of the show's episodes using the original artists voices, released by Steve Deakin-Davies: The Ambition Company.
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The show has the initials 'DM' prominently emblazoned on his chest. This causes problems for those translating it into other languages, where a literal translation of the words 'Danger' and 'Mouse' do not have those initials; the Scots Gaelic version, for example, calls the show (and the lead) Donnie Murdo (two given names unconnected either with mice or danger). He was Dzielna Mysz (brave mouse) in Polish, Dundermusen (Thundermouse) in Swedish, and Dare Dare Motus in French, "Dare Dare" being French slang for "as fast as possible". The Slovene translation omitted the DM initials entirely, however, dubbing Danger Mouse Hrabri mišek ('Brave Mouse').
In Australia, the show was first broadcast on ABC TV in 1982, then moved to Network Ten in 1996. It is still best remembered by Australians as a Classic ABC program. It was also the first British cartoon to break into Cheez TV, being shown on the weekdays.
- United Kingdom
- ITV/CITV (1981–1992, 2013)
- STV – broadcast the Scottish Gaelic version called "Donnie Murdo" from 1990 to 1994.
- The Children's Channel (1997–1998)
- Cartoon Network (2000–01)
- Boomerang (2000–06)
- BBC Two (2007–09)
- UK Gold (1992–94)
- The Family Channel (1995–96)
- BBC Alba - rebroadcasting the STV "Donnie Murdo" version (2015)
Australia and New ZealandEdit
It was reported in 2013 that the series was under consideration for a reboot, and in June 2014 it was announced that a new series was being made for broadcast on CBBC in 2015. The new series is produced by Boulder Media for FremantleMedia Kids. It is directed by Robert Cullen with Brian Cosgrove, one of the original creators, acting as creative consultant. Alexander Armstrong and actor Kevin Eldon voice Danger Mouse and Penfold, respectively; Dave Lamb takes the role of the narrator, whilst Stephen Fry plays Colonel K and Ed Gaughan takes over as Baron Greenback. Armstrong's Pointless co-host Richard Osman appears in the series as Professor Strontium Jellyfishowitz. John Oliver voices the character Dr Augustus P Crumhorn III and Lena Headey voices the character Jeopardy Mouse, a character newly introduced into this series. This series will be aired on Netflix in the US. Kevin Eldon describes the animation style as 'much the same as the original'.
Jazwares is the master toy partner, Penguin Books will publish a range of printed books, including story books, official guides, sticker books, novelty books, annuals and electronic titles and D.C. Thomson & Co. will publish a monthly magazine with comic strips, puzzles, fact files, poster and competitions.
The first episode aired on 28 September 2015.
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- "Interview with Brian Cosgrove on danger-mouse.net". Retrieved 7 December 2012.
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- "Ooh-eck, Penfold are rocking it up at the Inland Revenue". STV News.
- "How Danger Mouse became king of the TV ratings". 11 October 2013 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- Georg Szalai. "'Danger Mouse' Remake: More Female Characters Planned". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Hannah, Warner (2004). Fascinating TV Facts (1 ed.). London: Ted Smart. p. 99. ISBN 0-7535-0919-9.
- "100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows". channel4.com. Archived from the original on 4 August 2002. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
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- "Danger Mouse in Double Trouble". SpectrumComputing. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- "Danger Mouse in the Black Forest Chateau". SpectrumComputing. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- "Danger Mouse in Making Whoopee!". SpectrumComputing. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- "BBC ALBA - Donnie Murdo/Danger Mouse". BBC.
- "Danger Mouse (1981–1992) : Release Info". IMDb.com. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "◖Programación◗ Martes 1 de octubre de 1991 - Televisión del Recuerdo - Fotech - Foro de Televisión y Espectáculos de Chile". Foros.fotech.cl. 12 October 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
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- "DIRECCIÓN GENERAL DE RADIO, TELEVISIÓN Y CINEMATOGRAFÍA : DIRECCIÓN DE CONTENIDOS Y DISTRIBUCIÓN DE SEÑALES DE RADIO Y TELEVISIÓN : SERIES AUTORIZADAS, ABRIL 2005" (PDF). Rtc.gob.mx. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "DIRECCIÓN GENERAL DE RADIO, TELEVISIÓN Y CINEMATOGRAFÍA : DIRECCIÓN DE CONTENIDOS Y DISTRIBUCIÓN DE SEÑALES DE RADIO Y TELEVISIÓN : SERIES AUTORIZADAS, MAYO 2005" (PDF). Rtc.gob.mx. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "DIRECCIÓN GENERAL DE RADIO, TELEVISIÓN Y CINEMATOGRAFÍA : DIRECCIÓN DE CONTENIDOS Y DISTRIBUCIÓN DE SEÑALES DE RADIO Y TELEVISIÓN : SERIES AUTORIZADAS, JULIO 2005" (PDF). Rtc.gob.mx. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
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- "'Danger Mouse' reboot considered after CITV Old Skool weekend success". Digital Spy. 12 March 2013.
- "Danger Mouse to return to TV screens". BBC News. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- Koch, Dave (18 June 2014). "Three New Animated Series, Reboots All". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
- "BBC - Danger Mouse back on TV as new series announced for CBBC - Media Centre". bbc.co.uk.
- "Danger Mouse to be voiced by Alexander Armstrong". BBC News. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "Stephen Fry and Richard Osman join cast of CBBC's Danger Mouse". Prolific North.
- Jacob Kastrenakes. "Netflix picks up Inspector Gadget and Danger Mouse reboots". The Verge. Vox Media.
- "Kevin Eldon on Danger Mouse reboot: 'It's pretty imaginative'". WOW247.
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- Danger Mouse on IMDb
- Danger Mouse at the BFI's Screenonline
- Danger Mouse at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- A comprehensive listing of every Danger Mouse episode, with original transmission dates and episode descriptions.
- Danger Mouse appears on cover of Computer and Video Games magazine - September 1984.