Danger is his first name
October 13, 2013 10:10 PM   Subscribe

Danger Mouse (previously), Count Duckula, and Victor and Hugo were three of the many very silly, very British cartoons created by the Manchester-based Cosgrove Hall animation studio. First airing in the 1980s and early '90s, each of the shows were chock-full of wordplay, bad puns, absurd humour, and general zaniness. The studio stopped making original shows after being sold off by its parent company in 1991, and eventually shut down in 2009. The BBC recently covered the history of Cosgrove Hall in a short article and a much longer 30-minute radio tribute by David Jason, voice of Danger Mouse himself (as well as Count Duckula, Hugo, and many other characters).

posted by narain (55 comments total) 99 users marked this as a favorite

 
Crikey, what a post!
posted by zabuni at 10:13 PM on October 13, 2013 [17 favorites]


The "Thames" logo always freaked me out.
posted by curious nu at 10:17 PM on October 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


N.B. I may or may not have been inspired to post this after seeing an apparently unrelated use of the pun "Count Duckula" in a recent FPP. Many thanks to Helga-woo for the BBC links. Cosgrove Hall has made many other great things, including an award-winning stop-motion film adaptation and subsequent TV series of The Wind in the Willows, but I haven't seen those, so I decided to focus only on the TV shows I am familiar with, i.e. the ones I watched and loved as a kid.
posted by narain at 10:20 PM on October 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


omg, upon reading the DM wiki article just now for apparently the very first time, colonel k was a chinchilla? what.
posted by elizardbits at 10:23 PM on October 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


The universe-eating custard episode where the space hopper goes off the edge of the map, is all I have to say.
posted by migurski at 10:35 PM on October 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh my god I loved Danger Mouse. That show is responsible for both introducing child-me to the concept of custard and also forever ruining the concept of custard. In the same episode, I'm pretty sure it was.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:36 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


DM was obviously an elaborate James Bond joke, but what if DM was a John le Carré joke instead?
posted by migurski at 10:36 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Si, Barone.
posted by Artw at 10:37 PM on October 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


One of the reasons I liked DangerMouse is that it had the same kind of sense of humor as the Diana Rigg seasons of "The Avengers".

DangerMouse taught me the word "boffin", which Americans don't use.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:41 PM on October 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Crumbs!
posted by pompomtom at 10:42 PM on October 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


Wasn't James Bond a John le Carré joke?
posted by Brocktoon at 10:49 PM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


DM was obviously an elaborate James Bond joke, but what if DM was a John le Carré joke instead?

As a child, I had very limited access to pop culture, so I thought the characters were based on Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering from My Fair Lady.

The best part of visiting my grandparents, the forbidden fruit of cable TV.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:59 PM on October 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hello, little old lady.
posted by zoo at 11:17 PM on October 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh I loved Count Duckula. You've just put the theme song in my head.
posted by Jimbob at 11:38 PM on October 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


From a different production team, but very much in the same vein, schoolboy Eric is ... Bananaman! (SLYT)

Voiced by ... The Goodies!
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:07 AM on October 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hey, looking through the Cosgrove Hall site, it occurred to me to ask, after all these years: why is Nanny's arm in a sling?
posted by JHarris at 12:59 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


London.

Teeming city of millions.
posted by kyrademon at 1:13 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weird, I just read this Danger Mouse thread from 2010 last week.....
posted by guy72277 at 1:28 AM on October 14, 2013


Loved Danger Mouse. Was utterly confused to hear David Jason's voice attached to David Jason's face sometime later. The theme tune brings back the taste of green mint imperials and the sound of the folding tin trays we ate our lunches off in front of the telly in Granny's front room.
posted by runincircles at 1:33 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Si, Barone.

Turns out he a-couldn't be Italian for the American market, so they had to cockney him up, using the same voice actor. That was strange.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:57 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The title Danger Mouse was presumably a reference to the rather obscure Danger Man which was a forerunner to The Prisoner.
posted by memebake at 3:26 AM on October 14, 2013


It was indeed a reference -- there is no good reason to call it Danger Mouse unless the audience understands it's a joke on another show. In the UK, I understand, Danger Man isn't that obscure at all, and I figure Patrick McGoohan wanted to make The Prisoner partly to play off his prior popularity playing a secret agent while doing something rather different.
posted by JHarris at 4:00 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not true, Dangerman was Obscure. I cetainly didnt know of it as kid, and i doubt many of my Peers did either. Sure we might have watched the Prisoner and on a Sat Morning but most of us wouldnt be old enough to have seen an early 1960 (60-62) tv show. A reference for the adults maybe.
posted by PaddyJames at 4:31 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bananaman, then.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:32 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Watching Danger Mouse on Hulu a couple of years ago, I was a little confused to hear Stiletto's original Italian-ish voice, rather than the "culturally sensitive" Cockney version they redubbed for Nickelodeon in my childhood.
Was a little bit strange.
posted by jozxyqk at 4:37 AM on October 14, 2013


Year, 10 year olds in the 80s would have no idea WTF Danger Man was.
posted by Artw at 4:40 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Danger Mouse reminds me of visiting my grandparents' house in the mid to late 80s. They had cable (Nickelodeon) long before we did. My memories from that time was that all they showed was DM and You Can't Do That On Television.
posted by kuanes at 4:42 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Year, 10 year olds in the 80s would have no idea WTF Danger Man was.

I did too.

I loved Danger Mouse, and recalled that fact. When, over a viewing of Trial Of A Time Lords (on a VHS smuggled direct from the UK) a friend mentioned that it led to The Prisoner (a show I had heard of but never seen - because 1980s!) my MIND WAS BLOWN.

More recently I love Cosgrove Hall because of The Invasion! I'm iffy on Scream of the Shalka (oh, but.... The Master! and REGth Doctor!) and The Infinite Quest.
posted by Mezentian at 4:48 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although rumours of a CGI revival of the show have persisted in recent years,

*shudder*

I may have also squeed a bit like a girl the first time I saw a pillar box in Olde London Town.
But I may have also squeed a bit like a girl the first time I saw a Red London Phone Box. Or a English pub pint. Had I seen an actual blue police box I probably would have done something that is the subject of certain niche market blue films. *nods*
posted by Mezentian at 4:53 AM on October 14, 2013


Not true, Dangerman was Obscure.

Not only is it obscure here in the states but it wasn't even broadcast under that name here. We knew it as Secret Agent.
posted by octothorpe at 5:14 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cosgrove Hall have a strong claim on being my all time favourite animation studio. Their Wind in the Willows adaption (which gets a mention above) is incredible - not least because of the insane level of detail they went to with the models. They admitted that pretty much every minor element (from door knobs to cars) was properly cross-referenced against real world designs of the time. The soundtrack is also incredible.

It's great to see them getting some attention again actually. This is one of those rare instances of a rights-holder needing to do PR for an upcoming release giving an opportunity to get a proper look behind the scenes at a studio that has traditionally kept a low profile. It meant we could do a full history of Cosgrove in the last Cult TV Times (handily it's the feature in the free download version for those who want a read), and I wasn't at all surprised to see the BBC follow suit.

The thing being PR-ed which has lead to this, by the way, is another one of their much-underlooked gems. It's the upcoming DVD release of their animated version of Terry Pratchett's Truckers (clip on youtube). In fact one of the great tragedies of Thames Television losing its ITV franchise was that it meant massive job cuts at Cosgrove - cuts that meant the two planned sequels to Truckers had to be dropped.

Cosgrove did other Pratchett bits later on - Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music (with Cristopher Lee as Death). Both are decent, but they just don't hold a candle to the beautiful stop-mo of Truckers. It really, really, is worth watching.
posted by garius at 5:21 AM on October 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


FWIW Danger Man is kinda fun if you get to watch it. Not as surreal as The Prisoner, but there is endless speculation of if John Drake (Danger Man) is meant to be #6.

Did a whole Nerd Nite presentation on the connections between the two and Portmeirion was used in Danger Man as well. Lot of actors appeared in both shows. In consultation Flemming kinda tried to make Danger Man into a James Bond clone, before Mcgoohan got involved and molded the character himself.
posted by edgeways at 5:42 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although rumours of a CGI revival of the show have persisted in recent years,

Penfeld, shush.
posted by azpenguin at 5:42 AM on October 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Had I seen an actual blue police box I probably would have

You never made it to Kangaroo Valley?
posted by pompomtom at 5:43 AM on October 14, 2013


Hey, looking through the Cosgrove Hall site, it occurred to me to ask, after all these years: why is Nanny's arm in a sling?
Her right arm is perpetually in a sling, (though it was revealed in a newspaper comic that she in fact is only wearing it to cover up a tattoo.).
That's... strangely perfect.
posted by zamboni at 5:48 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I loved Danger Mouse as a kid and had a friend of my older brother's who was quite an artist make me a hand drawn Danger mouse and Penfold shirt for my birthday.
posted by josher71 at 6:22 AM on October 14, 2013


Danger Mouse was an early confirmation of my weirdness. After watching and loving it as a preteen, I showed a few episodes to my younger nieces, who met it with bafflement and boredom. They didn't like wordplay or weird British things or dry humor. They wanted to watch Ernest movies. And while I knew it was possible to appreciate the humor stylings of Jim Varney as well as jokes about impenetrable Welsh accents, alas, they could not. They just rolled their eyes at me and waited eagerly for Ernest to do something wacky.

It was a lonely time.
posted by emjaybee at 6:30 AM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I used to live down the road from Cosgrove-Hall! Sadly it wasn't open to visitors. My mum and I loved watching Count Duckula together.

Coincidentally, a card game we were playing yesterday reminded me of this Claymation classic.
posted by mippy at 6:35 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved Danger Mouse, and I was in college. It was the perfect break from working on projects. I still use "You're as gorgeous as the Borgias" as a form of praise.

My friends and I figured that a good metric for the excellence of any given episode was the amount of screen time the characters spent falling.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:52 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I much prefer the Danger Mouse reboot to the original series.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:00 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


You never made it to Kangaroo Valley?

Full of Australians, innit?
I left to get away from that.

(IF I have have known...... but the internet was early, my copy of Travels Without The TARDIS lacks an index ) and Dr Who was in the Wilderness.
posted by Mezentian at 7:09 AM on October 14, 2013


I got into a conversation in an expat bar in China that somehow wandered into Danger Mouse territory. I started explaining the episode where they discovered Earth was being set up with the planets in a giant snooker game, which I had seen when it was on Nickelodeon. That's when the guy I was talking to looked at me and drunkenly said, "You're a nerd, aren't you?"
posted by gc at 7:28 AM on October 14, 2013


A bit surprised that nobody's mentioned the CH animated Doctor Who stuff, but perhaps it's best that we don't.
posted by Devonian at 7:29 AM on October 14, 2013


Where I lived in Canada, Danger Mouse was always one of those second-string programs CKVU 13 showed on Sunday. KING, KOMO and KIRO 7 didn't broadcast American cartoons on Sunday, so it was either Danger Mouse on Sundays or Jack Van Impe Ministries.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:18 AM on October 14, 2013


The episode of Dangermouse where the production secretary has mistyped the script—

The Narrator: Lodnod - Comreeshal snitter of the... uh... yeah, I'm awfully sorry. It's... a new typist again. Uh... [clears throat] London - Commercial center of the Nation. Home to of the pillar bix; one of which, standing snettled down on Beaker Stroot, is home of the world's great agnet - Danager Moose. Good grief.

—ascends to almost Goon Show-like levels of brilliance. A fond memory. If I ever watched it again I'd probably discover it was rubbish.
posted by Hogshead at 8:18 AM on October 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


The two bits of dialogue that always stick in my head:

Penfold: "A block of flats! Ooh, sorry--me glasses got steamed up. A flock of bats!"


...and:

Professor Heinrich Von Squawkencluck: "Nein, nein, nein!"

Penfold: "Twenty-seven!"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:38 AM on October 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I came to DM late (my college years), but Penfold will always be one of my all time favorite cartoon characters/sidekicks. Anyone whose codename is The Jigsaw* is alright by me.

* Say it with me - "because when faced with a problem he falls to pieces."
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 8:51 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cosgrove Hall was Manchester based but specifically Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, hence Chorlton & The Wheelies
posted by niceness at 9:40 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


EDIT: Just read the post...

I hope I'm not the only one who fondly remembers Victor and Hugo, also of Cosgrove-Hall fame. If only for the Sherlock Holmes parody and the errant dog*








*You know what I mean
posted by prufrock at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2013


I grew up in Chorlton, and when I was a kid. I used to walk past Cosgrove Hall every time we went to the swimming pool.

Looking back, it never occurred to me that it would be strange that the home of Danger Mouse should be close by. It was just a part of how the world worked: milk came from the Dairy across from school, groceries came from the Supermarket up the street, Danger Mouse came from Cosgrove Hall on the way to the pool. I did, however, find it odd that Danger Mouse itself was set in far off, exotic, London and not somewhere sensible like Albert Square ("A Litter Free Zone").

The studio did, indeed, keep a low profile. I remember it as a surprisingly small, brown building with dark windows and a moat of mossy driveway. I never saw anybody going in or out, and the only thing to mark its presence at all was the ritual acknowledgement of adults every time we walked past: "did you know that that's where they make Danger Mouse?"
posted by Dreadnought at 11:10 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not true, Dangerman was Obscure.[...]A reference for the adults maybe.

Sure, but that stuff is far from rare in kids cartoons. The Looney Tunes trafficked in it every short. The key is the creators knew about it, and the right people (hip adults) would get it.
posted by JHarris at 1:35 PM on October 14, 2013


No Cosgrove Hall thread is complete without a mention of the cartoon of The BFG, and the Discworld cartoons of Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters.

Youtube links:
posted by Magnakai at 4:45 PM on October 14, 2013


"Grovel!"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, master!"
posted by gern at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Danger Mouse, along with Sesame Street, are my earliest media memories as a little kid in 1980s Kansas. It's really bizarre to watch this again, not just to have random sounds and sights trigger memories that hadn't been triggered in ages, but to see the influence that this show I had largely forgotten has had on my sense of humor.
posted by maus at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2013


I was going to day "Whither Doctor Snuggles?", but I was misremembering that as a Cosgrove-Hall production.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2013


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