Dear Tony, Please Don’t Ruin Danger Mouse

An Open Letter to BBC Director General Tony Hall

Dear Tony,

Can I just start by saying you made my week when you announced that Danger Mouse is coming back to our TV screens.

The animated superhero, though two decades gone, was one of the most memorable of childrens’ TV icons from my formative years.

Bringing the eye-patched, big-eared crime-fighter and his bug-eyed hamster sidekick Penfold back from the dead might just be one of the most inspired moves of your tenure as DG thus far.

It could be a valuable lesson to today’s kids, and those who make programmes for them, that modern TV production has much still to learn from the classics of bygone times.

This new generation of kids TV viewers, constantly reminded that they’d rather kill virtual mutants than climb a tree, still need some animated escapism outside of their Xbox or PlayStation.

And what better way than through the medium of a super-sleuth mouse who has to wear his initials on his chest in case he forgets who he is.

Just one thing, Tony – don’t let the BBC’s natural desire to be ‘with it’, to be at the vanguard of 21st Century programming modernity, stuff up the re-imagining of this classic. Promise us that, at least.

I’m worried. Already you’ve dispatched CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor to detail how Danger Mouse’s eye patch will be replaced by an “i-patch” with multiple technological functions and his headquarters will be kitted out with “state-of-the-art wizardry”.

And Fremantle’s Rick Glanker has stirred the sauce further by informing us that this rebooted version will be brought up-to-date for today’s tech-savvy and content-hungry kids with mightier missions, voracious villains and knee-trembling threats.

On the surface that sounds great. But remember that the essence of Danger Mouse is that underneath all the bluster, the derring-do and crime-fighting superheroism, is the comedy gold of a mouse who’s a little insecure, hangs around with a hamster and saves the world despite being a little bit crap at pretty much everything.

I know some things will have to change. You can’t use the voice of comedian Terry Scott to bring Penfold to life any more, for example.

But some things might be better left alone. Don’t wave too much technology, too much 21st Century CGI at DM. Keep it simple. It won’t be any funnier, any more loved by today’s bright young things simply because it features a few more iPad references than the originals.

Look where allowing technology and special effects to take over got the newer movies in the Star Wars franchise.

Don’t ruin Danger Mouse for my kids.

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