I love Danger Mouse. Well, I loved it when I was eight. I'd probably love it again now if I was still eight. But the announcement that Danger Mouse was being remade by the BBC was a bit of a shock. Is it really the best children's TV the BBC can do today? Are there really no talented British animation houses with original stories to tell?
I don't know about you but since I left my short pants and Panini sticker books behind I've occasionally had moments of nostalgia for the kids TV of my youth: Blue Peter, Grange Hill, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bananaman, Morph - you know the sort of stuff. I loved it all. But when I heard Danger Mouse was back I just thought: how sad.
The short backstory to this is that it all started in May 2012 when the BBC decided, wrongly in my view, to move all children's programmes to CBBC and CBeebies, they said: "Children's output remains a cornerstone of the BBC's public service offering and one of the BBC's foremost editorial priorities," and "Children's programmes are absolutely fundamental to the BBC and that is why we have protected investment in them in the light of cuts elsewhere."
Roll on two years and we've got....Danger Mouse. Again. In 1993, Anna Home, then Head of Children's Programming at the BBC and now Head of the Children's Film and Television Foundation, said she could see only a future filled with cartoons and junior soaps. And she was right wasn't she? But then she was the lady whose idea it was to commission landmark programmes such as Grange Hill, Jackanory and Telletubbies. Oh and she's got a BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award, so despite the rather sniffy reception she gained for her views, she did - and does - know her stuff.
Budgets are tight at the BBC. Hell, budgets are tight everywhere not just at the BBC. But that is no excuse for throwing what little cash there is at old ideas. Let's face it, if you ran any other business, let's say a sock manufacturer, would you pile cash into creating a sock line that was exactly like the sock line you had three years ago? No. You might consider reviving your 1980s sock range. But I tell you what, you'd only think about it for approximately 30 seconds before you slapped yourself round the face, swivelled your eyes and laughed. You wouldn't do that because it's dated. Fashions have changed. The world has changed. Yes, BBC, I know you're going to say: Danger Mouse has changed. But adding the odd iPhone reference (careful with trademarks BBC!) doesn't make spending the cash the right thing to do.
It's all such a shame. There are hundreds of wonderful independent British animation and film companies out there and their owners and staff are all crying into their breakfast cereal at the moment wondering what they have to do to get commissioned to create the amazing, innovative, highly original work they are so obviously capable of producing. Yes, the BBC do still commission new work but the rehashing of Danger Mouse will be a very bitter pill for our creative animation industry to swallow. And we're paying for this folks, all of us.
And what of the children? Yes, Danger Mouse will be well received; probably incredibly well received. After all it was a hit show - a hit formula. Many thousands of children will watch and it will become a new favourite. But in my mind there's something just that little bit sly about feeding children something that's very old; repackaging it as new and shiny. Basically, what we're saying is: 'The new kids have never seen Danger Mouse before so let's take the easy way out and redo it. That way we don't need to think about commissioning any new stuff. Why should try any harder when we've got Danger Mouse sitting around doing nothing. Hey, they'll never know, they've never even heard of Danger Mouse.'
But children are people too, oh yes they are. They need new experiences and new programming that stretches them and makes them think. They deserve TV that's fresh and modern. And they need the BBC to do the very best they possibly can to give them that content. Rehashing Danger Mouse does not fit that remit. I'd rather they repeated Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. And that's saying something!
I'm quite sure I won't be alone in my concern about the danger of Danger Mouse - and where this is leading. As Anna Home has said subsequently: "Children want new ideas as well as looking at old favourites," and "Teletubbies just would not get commissioned now. Children's dramas and shows are just too expensive. Children need to see programmes which reflect their life and they are no longer experiencing this. As a result, children are losing their identities." How very sad.