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DVD Reviews :: Interview
with Brian Cosgrove
:: Pilot Episode :: Penfold's
with Brian Cosgrove
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!
1) Was Danger Mouse based on James
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
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)