Barely a day goes by when there isn’t an episode of the new Danger Mouse playing in our house. Since its debut in 2015 it has been a firm family favourite.
In recent years, we have seen a glut of children’s TV remakes, from the so-so The Clangers to the splendid Thunderbirds Are Go. However, my favourite remains the new adventures of ‘the greatest secret agent in the world’.
The original series boasted the inimitable vocal talents of David Jason as Danger Mouse and Terry Scott as his hapless sidekick Penfold. However, the reboot more than holds its own. Jason and Scott have been replaced by comedians Alexander Armstrong and Kevin Eldon. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of a cast that includes Stephen Fry, Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey and Morwenna Banks (Peppa Pig‘s Mummy Pig). Guest stars have included Armstrong’s Pointless co-host Richard Osman, Brian Blessed, Christopher Eccleston, Miranda Richardson and Richard Ayoade.
The new version is pleasingly faithful to the original. The iconic theme tune is virtually unchanged. And other elements from the parent series remain such as Danger Mouse’s white jump-suit and flying yellow Danger Car, Baron Greenback’s frog’s head flyer and the use of a red pillar box as our heroes’ secret base.
There’s also plenty of rapid-fire quippery, awful punnery and sight gags which will leave adults sniggering.
Shush. We’ll worry about those problems after we’ve caused them.
I’m forever chuckling at the appropriation of classic films as episode titles. (I’m easily pleased like that.) For Bond fans there is Gold Flinger, the Christmas special Yule Only Watch Twice and Quantum of Rudeness. Look a little further and you will find The Unusual Suspects, Dry Hard and (my personal favourite) The Good, the Baaaaa and the Ugly.
The show’s villains remain as absurd as ever; more in the style of Johnny English than Jason Bourne. In addition to Greenback, we have the automated toilet Dr Loocifer, terrifying pre-teen Dawn and the monkey scientist Isambard King Kong Brunel. Oh, and Count Duckula (who first appeared in the original show before getting his own series).
It’s not all the same, though. There’s an unmistakable 21st-century feel to the new show. London’s contemporary skyline and buildings feature regularly. Danger Mouse’s eye-patch now contains a head-up display. And the lack of a major female character has been addressed with the inclusion of the Q-like Professor Squawkencluck. Penfold even has a love interest of his own, the glamorous actress Scarlett Johamster.
Clever wordplay and top-notch animation aside, the new show is genuinely excellent. Our kids love the slapstick goofiness. Alexander Armstrong’s dry vocal delivery is spot on; the same is true of the other major characters. Most importantly, though, the new series has not been PC’d to death. It retains the sly, anarchic charm of the original, whose humour and visual style echoed Monty Python and The Goodies.
Danger Mouse is that rare beast – a nostalgia trip for grown-ups that is equally loved by a new generation of kids. Unmissable.