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
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