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:: DVD Reviews :: Interview with Brian Cosgrove :: Pilot Episode :: Penfold's Peril ::

Interview with Brian Cosgrove

The DVD entitled "The Great Bone Idol" contained an interview with Brian Cosgrove as a bonus feature.
Here it is, transcribed and edited for your reading pleasure!

Brian Cosgrove


1) Was Danger Mouse based on James Bond?

I suppose there is a little of James Bond in the series. But the original idea came from a television show way back with the actor Patrick McGowan in called Danger Man. I suppose he was a James Bond type. That's what, I suppose, sparked the idea of the name. Being a cartoon, that's where it started being silly; the idea that a mouse could be a secret agent and that he would have a sidekick called Penfold. (Smiles) I make no excuses!


2) How did Danger Mouse lose his eye?

Well the thing is, has he really lost his eye? If he lifts that patch up, is there something else underneath? Well you never know. James Bond had Q, a guy who would give him all sorts of secret weapons, and there could be something under that eye patch that we've never revealed. But we don't talk about how he lost his eye...if he did indeed lose the eye.


3) Where did the Danger Mouse characters come from?

There are other characters that do come from James Bond. I think that Colonel K is very like James Bond's M, his controller. Greenback's little white caterpillar, Nero, there was a villain called Bluefield who had a white Persian cat. And that certainly gave us the idea for Greenback having a white caterpillar. Then, of course we added Nero's voice, which is really David Jason saying silly things sped up very, very fast. So if you listen to it very carefully, maybe record it and slow it down you may hear David saying something silly.


4) Did working on Danger Mouse allow you endless scope for experimentation?

Yeah, we broke a lot of rules with Danger Mouse. I think when we set out to make Danger Mouse, the films that were around at the time weren't really anarchistic like Danger Mouse is. The whole idea of the things that he does is somewhat anarchic. The fact that if he runs too fast to the left he could come off the edge of the film and have to struggle to get back on again. I suppose it's an old-school mentality. We had a lot of young designers who liked to break rules. Danger Mouse was the perfect show to do odd things. I remember that they went into outer space, I think it was the Custard episode, and we had a section of the film to fill. You have an allocated number of weeks to turn the artwork around and we had roughly 30 seconds of film to use and I remember that I got a photograph of a London transport bus and photos of birds and insects, placed them in the windows and sailed them through space along with other odd items like flowers and vacuum cleaners. Now in a structured animated film you wouldn't do that. But we did with Danger Mouse, we liked doing silly things and breaking the rules and I think the show was better for it.


5) Was an adult perspective important for writing the scripts?

(Laughs) I don't suppose it's the sort of thing that I would ever claim that Danger Mouse is intelligent, but if you think about it, it is full of quirky things that I'm quite proud of. The level of humour I believe would be entertaining to adults. Take, for example, the announcer. Tucked away in a booth somewhere whose job is to introduce the show. Isenbard, I think his name was. We didn't just give him the task of introducing the show, we made him a little bit crazy! He was constantly talking about having left his bicycle outside the studio when he was coming in and he was saying he was looking for his bicycle clips or "Oh I'm fed up of introducing this rubbish, I'm not going to introduce it anymore" and the telephone would ring and it would be his boss and he'd say, "Yes sir, alright sir, I won't do it again sir". The idea that you would use an announcer like that and make a character of him was fresh and original. Where those ideas come from, it's difficult to explain really. If you have a group of people, they just come and you are thankful that they come (laughs), and if you've got any sense as a director, you don't close the door on those ideas, you say "That's great! Give me more like that!"


6) Do you feel that Danger Mouse influenced today's animation?

I suppose I can be presumptuous enough to believe it does. When you think about your own career, you realise that you yourself has been influenced by, say, what Chuck Jones or the Warner Bros did. You're influenced by Monty Python and all sorts of comedians. So yes, I think that Danger Mouse did influence people. If not, then at least I like to think that it certainly entertained them down over the years, giving them a lot of pleasure. I think that if something like that gives you pleasure, it stays in your head and becomes part of you. I think it influences you in strange ways (laughs)


7) Can you explain to us how Penfold came about?

I was sketching in a reception area while waiting for a meeting, and I happened to come up with the design of Penfold. When everybody saw it, "That's it! We've got Penfold!". It was only when I got back to the studios that a colleague pointed out that I had done a caricature of my brother! (Laughs) He wore rather thick-framed glasses and a round face, a bit like me. He's never held it against me. I think he's quite proud of it, but I didn't know I'd done that until much later. Of course he isn't as silly as Penfold (smirks) and he isn't a hamster but there is still a vague sort of relationship between the two (Laughs)