Mr Benn

25 February 1971

The bowler hatted everyman Mr Benn was first seen on television on 25 February 1971. Introducing the cartoon as part of the Watch with Mother strand, the Radio Times said "Every week Mr Benn dresses up and finds himself in a different adventure." Mr Benn was written and illustrated by David McKee, who contrasted Mr Benn's ordinary suburban life at 52 Festive Road with the magical costume shop, and its shop keeper, who would appear "as if by magic".

Mr Benn's first adventure was as a red knight, stepping out of the changing room and into a world where he had to help a dragon. In later stories he variously became a big game hunter, cook, caveman, balloonist, zookeeper, caveman, diver, wizard, cowboy, clown, magic carpet rider, spaceman and pirate. The programme was narrated by Ray Brooks.

Mr Benn is loved by several generations of viewers as it has been shown time and again, although only 13 episodes were ever made for the BBC. McKee has created other popular characters in King Rollo and Elmer the Elephant. In 2009 the residents of Festing Road, Putney, marked the inspiration for Festive Road by unveiling a plaque outside McKee's old house at no 54, in tribute to Mr Benn and his creator.

February anniversaries