What-a-Mess is a series of children's books written by British comedy writer Frank Muir and illustrated by Joseph Wright.[1] The title character is a dishevelled (hence his nickname), accident-prone Afghan Hound puppy, whose real name is Prince Amir of Kinjan.

Created byFrank Muir
Written byFrank Muir
Timothy Forder (Version 2)
Cliff Ruby
Elana Lesser (Version 3)
Directed byTimothy Forder (Version 2)
Kent Butterworth (Version 3)
Voices ofFrank Muir (Versions 1, 2, & 3)
Ryan O'Donohue
Jo Ann Harris
Joe Nipote
Charity James
Miriam Flynn
Michael Bell
Debi Derryberry
Adam Hendershott
Theme music composerAndrew Lloyd Webber (Version 1)
Barrie Guard (Version 2)
Country of originUnited Kingdom (Versions 1 & 2)
United States (Version 3)
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes45
Executive producer(s)Claire Derry
David Hamilton (Version 2)
Andy Heyward
Robby London
Mike Maliani (Version 3)
Producer(s)Mary Swindale (Version 2)
Cliff Ruby
Elana Lesser
Kent Butterworth (Version 3)
Running time5 minutes (Version 1)
10 minutes (Version 2)
30 minutes (Version 3)
Production company(s)Smallfilms (Version 1)
Bevanfield Films (Version 2)
DIC Productions L.P. (Version 3)
Original networkBBC (Version 1)
ITV (Version 2)
ABC (Version 3)
Original release24 December 1979 (1979-12-24) –
4 April 2000 (2000-04-04)

It was later made into three animated series, all narrated by Frank Muir.

Character listEdit

  • What-a-Mess – A scruffy Afghan puppy who is the main character of the entire franchise. His real name is Prince Amir of Kinjan, and has a yellow duck sitting on top of his head. In the US animated version, the duck was coloured blue, as his character was merged with the blue bird in the UK animated version and books, and was also given the name Baldwin by What-A-Mess. In the US animated version, What-A-Mess is voiced by Ryan O'Donohue.
  • What-a-Mess's Mother – Also known as The Duchess of Kinjan is a beautiful pedigree Afghan Hound, mother to What-a-Mess, and is voiced by Charity James in the US version.
  • Family – The owners of What-a-Mess and his mother. They consist of the father, the mother, the son, and daughter. Like most humans, they are mostly seen from the neck down, with their faces slightly obscured. They are voiced by Michael Bell (as the father), Miriam Flynn (as the mother), Adam Hendershott (as the son), and Debi Derryberry (as the daughter), in the US version.
  • Poppet – Belonging to the father of the house's aunt, Poppet is a cute, clean and yet troublemaking dog that What-a-Mess and his friends truly despise, making her first appearance in Super What-a-Mess.
  • Archbishop of Canterbury – A scruffy dark blue dog with brown patches who What-A-Mess met and befriended in What-A-Mess Goes to the Seaside. He's named this way because when What-A-Mess introduces himself with his breed name he sarcastically replies "Wotcher, cock, I'm the Archbishop of Canterbury!", which the naive pup takes as his actual name. His name was changed to Norton in the US Animated Version, and he was voiced by Dana Hill.
  • President of the United States – Ironic, that in one of the US Version episodes where What-a-Mess got lost in town, he was helped out by a dog voiced by Jim Cummings that had exactly the same experience as the Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK Version and books, where when What-a-Mess introduces himself with his breed name, he sarcastically replies "Oh really? And I'm the President of the United States!" which the naive pup takes as his actual name.
  • The Cat Next Door – Also known as Felicia in the US animated version, is a brown Siamese Cat that loves to tease What-A-Mess at times. In the US animated version, she was coloured blue and she was voiced by Jo Ann Harris.
  • Cynthia – A Hedgehog who What-A-Mess befriended in What-A-Mess Goes to School. Her character was redesigned to become a mole named Ramona in the US animated version, due to the fact that Hedgehogs aren't native to America. In the US animated version, she is voiced by Candi Milo.
  • Ryvita – Appearing only in the books, Ryvita is a Ladybird that What-A-Mess and his friends befriended, and who first appeared in What-a-Mess Goes on Television She speaks so small that only Cynthia could understand her.
  • Esmeralda – A white mouse that belonged to the girl of the house, who only appeared in both the book, What-a-Mess and the Hairy Monster, and an episode of the US version of the same name. In the US version she was voiced by Russi Taylor.
  • Trash – Only in the US animated version, Trash is a Bull Terrier who is a real trouble maker for What-A-Mess. His real name is actually Francis. He is voiced by Joe Nipote.
  • Frank – An Old English Sheepdog that narrates the US animated version of What-A-Mess, voiced by Frank Muir himself.

Additional voicesEdit

Books listEdit

Large BooksEdit

  1. What-a-Mess = What-a-Mess is sure he can't be the same creature as his slim, clean mother, so what is he?
  2. What-a-Mess The Good = What-a-Mess tries to be well-behaved, but he doesn't think things through.
  3. What-a-Mess at the Seaside
  4. What-a-Mess Goes to School
  5. Prince What-a-Mess
  6. Super What-a-Mess = When the adorable but cruel Poppet comes to stay, it seems only a super dog can put things right.
  7. What-a-Mess and the Cat Next Door
  8. What-a-Mess Goes on Television
  9. What-a-Mess and the Hairy Monster

Small BooksEdit

Four Seasons

  1. What-a-Mess in Spring
  2. What-a-Mess in Summer
  3. What-a-Mess in Autumn
  4. What-a-Mess in Winter

Four Square Meals

  1. What-a-Mess has Breakfast
  2. What-a-Mess has Lunch
  3. What-a-Mess has Tea
  4. What-a-Mess has Supper

Mini Books

  1. What-a-Mess has a Brain Wave
  2. What-a-Mess and Little Poppet
  3. What-a-Mess and a trip to the Vet
  4. What-a-Mess the Beautiful
  5. What-a-Mess Goes to Town
  6. What-a-Mess Goes Camping

Animated seriesEdit

An animated series was made in the UK in 1979 by Smallfilms. A second version was made in the UK in 1990 by Central Independent Television, Link Licensing, and Bevanfield Films. A third version, this time American, was made in 1995 by DIC Productions L.P.[2] and aired on ABC in the United States. It aired on YTV from 1995 to 1999 in Canada. All three versions were narrated by Muir.[2] Two out of the three animated series aired on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Australia.

Episode listEdit

Version 1 (Smallfilms / UK series)Edit

  1. A Bee? / 1979.12.24
  2. A Hat? / 1979.12.26
  3. A Fish? / 1979.12.27
  4. A Mole? / 1979.12.28
  5. A Hound / 1979.12.30
  6. Mighty Hunter / 1980.01.01
  7. Enough for One Day / 1980.01.02
  8. A Very Good Dog Indeed / 1980.01.03
  9. A Prince / 1980.01.04

Version 2 (Bevanfield Films / UK series)Edit

  1. What-a-Mess at the Seaside / 1990.03.26 (Adapted from What-a-Mess at the Seaside)
  2. What-a-Mess Goes to School / 1990.04.02 (Adapted from What-a-Mess Goes to School)
  3. Prince What-a-Mess / 1990.04.09 (Adapted from Prince What-a-Mess and What-a-Mess in Winter)
  4. Super What-a-Mess / 1990.04.16 (Adapted from Super What-a-Mess)
  5. What-a-Mess Keeps Cool / 1990.04.30 (Adapted from What-a-Mess in Spring and What-a-Mess in Summer)
  6. What-a-Mess and Cynthia the Hedgehog / 1990.05.14 (Adapted from What-a-Mess has Supper and What-a-Mess in Autumn)
  7. What-a-Mess Has a Brain Wave! / 1990.05.21 (Adapted from What-a-Mess has Breakfast and What-a-Mess Had a Brain Wave)
  8. What-a-Mess and the Cat Next Door / 1990.06.04 (Adapted from What-a-Mess and the Cat Next Door)
  9. What-a-Mess and Little Poppet / 1990.06.18 (Adapted from What-a-Mess and Little Poppet)
  10. What-a-Mess Goes Camping / 1990.07.02 (Adapted from What-a-Mess Goes Camping)
  11. What-a-Mess The Beautiful / 1990.07.09 (Adapted from What-a-Mess The Beautiful)
  12. What-a-Mess Goes to Town / 1990.07.16 (Adapted from What-a-Mess Goes to Town)
  13. What-a-Mess Goes to the Vet / 1990.07.23 (Adapted from What-a-Mess Goes to the Vet)[4]

Version 3 (DIC Productions L.P. / US series)Edit

  1. Talkin' Trash: What-a-Mess is forced to be a servant for Trash, who has just moved into the neighborhood. (16 September 1995)
  2. A Bone to Pick: What-a-Mess unintentionally causes chaos at a museum, while avoiding a hotheaded curator.
  3. Midnight Snack: What-a-Mess wakes in the middle of the night to look for food.
  4. Schoolin' Around: What-a-Mess comes to a puppy academy to make the grade, and face against Bully Dog, Buzz Jr.
  5. The Legend of Junkyard Jones: What-a-Mess and Norton go to the Junkyard to see the ghost of Junkyard Jones, of course, Felicia will scare the pups to death with Her tricks.
  6. It's Raining Cats and Dogs: What-a-Mess believes Felicia's fiction that a storm will rain down cats and dogs.
  7. Home Alone...Almost: What-a-Mess watches over the house while the family was away for two days.
  8. Super What-A-Mess: What-a-Mess is forced to endure the ordeal of Poppet's mean personality.
  9. The Recliner
  10. Afghan Holiday: What-a-Mess is put into a kennel while the Family goes on vacation.
  11. The Bone Tree: Felicia tricks What-a-Mess into thinking He could grow bones trees.
  12. Just Four More Left: What-a-Mess turns to the Buyer's Bargain Network to get a Birthday gift for his mother. Though when Felicia found out about it, it quickly made her into a shopaholic.
  13. The Ropes: Trash shows What-a-Mess the ropes which involves stealing food.
  14. What-A-Mess Has Breakfast
  15. Prize Puppy
  16. The Great Escape
  17. The Scarecrow and Prince Amir
  18. Shampooed What-a-Mess runs scared when He thinks a groomer has come to take him away and replace him.
  19. Show and Tail What-a-Mess tries to get the daughter's science project to her school.
  20. I Spy, I Cry, I Try: The Mail Carrier tries unsuccessfully to get past What-a-Mess and deliver the mail.
  21. What-A-Mess and the Hairy Monster: What-a-Mess runs scared of what He thinks is a monster in the house.
  22. Trick Or Treat: What-a-Mess has a Halloween adventure with the Children.
  23. My Teatime with Frank: What-a-Mess has some tea time with Frank.
  24. Out With the Garbage: After He goes into a garbage truck, What-a-Mess is lost in another city.
  25. Dr. What-A-Mess: What-a-Mess and Felicia feed Trash some food with fertilizer, making him stiff as a board.
  26. Ultimate What-A-Mess What-a-Mess competes in a freebee catching competition, but can only catch flying pizzas.
  27. This Hydrant Is Mine What-a-Mess and His pals must defend their corner fire hydrant from a rival gang.
  28. Trash's Wonderful Life: Trash goes through His history and learns what would happen if He never existed.
  29. Snowbound: What-a-Mess has an adventure at a ski resort while keeping a snowman safe.
  30. The Thanksgiving Turkey What-a-Mess, Felicia, and Trash re-enact the first Thanksgiving.
  31. Santa What-A-Mess What-a-Mess questions the truth about Santa and Christmas.
  32. Here Comes Santa Paws
  33. All Around the Mallberry Bush What-a-Mess gets lost in the Mall.
  34. What-A-Mess at the Movies What-a-Mess goes to a cinema in hopes of watching the Wonder Pup Movie.
  35. His Royal Highness, Prince What-A-Mess: After getting on the wrong plane in the baggage, What-a-Mess meets his relatives in Afghanistan.
  36. Party at Poppet's: What-a-Mess tries to avoid Poppet during Poppet's Owner's birthday.
  37. Take Me Out to the Dog Park: What-a-Mess is forced to fight a Bully who is stronger than any normal canine, but another dog helps What-a-Mess, and You'll never guess who!
  38. The Watch Out Dog
  39. Molenapped!: What-a-Mess tries to save Ramona (and later Felicia) from the exterminator.
  40. Pound Pals: Trash and What-a-Mess are caught and taken to the pound.
  41. Taste Test
  42. Slobber on a Stick: What-a-Mess' slobbering friend Leonard comes for a visit.
  43. Scout's Honor: What-a-Mess travels the great outdoors with the boy on a camping adventure.
  44. Seein' Double
  45. Luck on His Side: What-a-Mess gets the wrong ideas about luck from Felicia and Trash.
  46. What-A-Mess Keeps the Doctor Away: What-a-Mess becomes scared when He is to go to the vet.
  47. There's No Business Like Shoe Business
  48. Joy Ride: What-a-Mess accidentally causes chaos and calamity in the town driving a convertible.
  49. Baldwin's Family Reunion: Baldwin turns to What-a-Mess to help arrange a reunion for the bird's family.
  50. Do the Mess Around: What-a-Mess and Felicia have fun singing at night time.
  51. On Vacation
  52. Messy Encounters: What-a-Mess and Trash are zapped in a spaceship by cat-like aliens.
  53. Dog Days of Summer
  54. Fetch!
  55. Real Puppies Don't Meow
  56. Invasion of the Puppy Snatchers: What-a-Mess, Felicia and Norton are confounded by itchy fleas (contains a scene of blood when the fleas first bite into What-a-Mess)
  57. The Ballad of El Pero
  58. What-a-Mess Has Lunch: What-a-Mess decides to go hunting for His food when the family forgets to feed Him.
  59. Walking the Boy: What-a-Mess has the boy take Him on a walk, but not without consequences.
  60. Messed Up What-A-Mess: What-a-Mess has amnesia, but Felicia and Trash take advantage of His situation.
  61. Water Mess: After being drenched with water by What-a-Mess, Felicia decides to pull a prank on What-a-Mess at the pool.
  62. The Big Sleep: Trash is trying to sleep, but Norton and What-a-Mess' playful nature keeps Him awake.
  63. High-Wire Heartthrob: What-a-Mess falls for a female afghan hound who is a circus performer.

VHS/DVD releasesEdit

UK seriesEdit

  • What-A-Mess: 5 Hilarious AdventuresWhat-a-Mess Goes to the Seaside, What-a-Mess Goes to School, Prince What-a-Mess, Super What-a-Mess, What-a-Mess Keeps Cool (Extra Episodes – What-a-Mess and Cynthia the Hedgehog, What-a-Mess Has a Brain Wave!)
  • What-A-Mess: Small VHS SampleWhat-a-Mess and Cynthia the Hedgehog, What-a-Mess Has a Brain Wave!, What-a-Mess and the Cat Next Door
  • What-A-Mess: Cat & Seaside (DVD) – Consisting the entire UK series.

US seriesEdit

In October 1996, Buena Vista Home Video under the DIC Toon-Time Video banner released 2 VHS tapes called Monsters, Goblins, and Ghosts, Oh my! and Here Comes Santa Paws. The former contained the segments What-A-Mess and the Hairy Monster, Trick Or Treat and My Tea Time with Frank and the latter containing the Santa What-a-Mess special.

On November 13, 2003, Sterling Entertainment released a VHS/DVD called "Christmas Mess", containing the Santa What-a-Mess special as well as the segments "Trash's Wonderful Life", "The Thanksgiving Turkey", Snowbound", All Around the Mallberry Bush", "It's Raining Cats and Dogs" and "At the Movies", with the DVD version containing the segments "His Majesty, Prince What-a-Mess", "Ultimate What-a-Mess" and "This Hydrant is Mine" as bonus episodes. The DVD was re-issued by NCircle Entertainment in 2007.


  1. ^ Russell Williams, Imogen (4 July 2007). "Whatever happened to What-a-mess?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b "IMDB What-a-mess". Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  3. ^ 1979 series episodes at the BBC Genome
  4. ^ 1990 series episode guide at the Big Cartoon DataBase