Yikes! Po­lit­i­cally cor­rect Den­nis loses his Men­ace

The cat­a­pult’s gone, Gnasher’s had his teeth fixed and Wal­ter (or is it Ja­cob Rees-Mogg?) isn’t even a softie in re­make of Beano clas­sic

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Femail - By Jamie Nimmo

gen­er­a­tions, he has been the ter­ror of the school­yard, strik­ing fear into ‘soft­ies’ ev­ery­where.

But the lat­est in­car­na­tion of Den­nis The Men­ace is his most po­lit­i­cally cor­rect yet, with his cat­a­pult re­placed by an iPad – and with his peashooter given a high­tech makeover – and a pet ham­ster called Gala­had.

His dis­tinc­tive black-and-red striped jumper is al­most the only link with the beloved Beano char­ac­ter of old. Even his ca­nine side­kick Gnasher has had a makeover, with his huge trade­mark fangs swapped for rows of per­fect small white teeth.

Where once Den­nis had no other aim than to spread chaos and may­hem, the 2017 ver­sion is all about ‘in­clu­siv­ity’, say pro­duc­ers of the new CBBC show.

Mike Stir­ling, the ed­i­to­rial direc­tor of mak­ers Beano Stu­dios, said: ‘We want to be as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble. In the his­tory of the comic, in­clu­sive­ness was not 100 per cent there, but I think it’s cer­tainly some­thing we’ve been con­scious of in terms of in­tro­duc­ing new char­ac­ters. We’re re­ally rep­re­sent­ing what we see in schools in Bri­tain.’

In the new an­i­ma­tion, Den­nis forms a garage band with old pal Pie-Face, Rubi, a gad­get-lov­ing girl in a wheel­chair – the first time a dis­abled char­ac­ter has ap­peared in Bean­otown – and a new black char­ac­ter, a feisty girl called JJ.

Den­nis’s peren­nial vic­tim, Wal­ter the Softy, has also been smartened up. Now he bears a rather un­canny re­sem­blance to Con­ser­va­tive MP Ja­cob ReesMogg and is de­scribed as ‘grown-up before his time’. He is also known sim­ply as Wal­ter and been made tougher so that he is not per­ceived as a vic­tim of bul­ly­ing.

Stir­ling says he was ‘un­com­fort­able’ with the old Wal­ter and has now made him ‘a more wor­thy foe’.

Den­nis, who first ap­peared in The Beano comic book in 1951, had pre­vi­ously be­ing ac­cused of

ho­mo­pho­bia for his tor­ment­ing of the ef­fem­i­nate Wal­ter.

Sev­eral pre­vi­ous at­tempts have been made at mak­ing Den­nis more palat­able to mod­ern tastes, in­clud­ing the last CBBC ver­sion, made in 2009, which took pains to en­sure that Den­nis wasn’t seen to be en­cour­ag­ing vi­o­lence.

Emma Scott, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Beano Stu­dios, says she wants to ex­port the new-look skate­board­FOR lov­ing char­ac­ter around the world. She said: ‘There’s some­thing about it which is uniquely Bri­tish but which also has great res­o­nance with chil­dren of every age.

‘I think it’s us find­ing that se­cret sauce, bot­tling it, ex­pand­ing it and tak­ing it global.’

The new se­ries, en­ti­tled Den­nis And Gnasher, and with ac­tor Fred­die Fox voic­ing the lead char­ac­ter, will air on CBBC next month.

WHOLE­SOME: Den­nis with, from left, JJ, Gnasher, Rubi, Pie-Face and, inset, Wal­ter and dop­pel­ganger Rees-Mogg

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