A small but significant part of my childhood died recently. Yours too, although you may not have even realised it.
It’s a pretty safe bet that you’ve probably heard our dear, departed friend’s terrified yelps as he and his four-legged chum scarpered from that week’s Yeti, ghost or headless horseman.
Casey Kasem, who was the voice of Shaggy from Scooby Doo for almost 40 years, died last week at the age of 82.
The cult cartoon classic, which started back in 1969, may have been a ridiculous concept on the face of it – a talking dog travelling around with a group of mystery-solving teenagers.
But like many of the kids TV shows from my childhood, it stood the test of time, spawning several spin-offs, films and comic books. Scooby Doo was just one of those shows that everyone watched.
News of Shaggy’s demise stirred up some cartoon nostalgia for me. I realised that shows like Scooby Doo played quite a role in my childhood and they just don’t compare to the more watered-down kids TV offerings these days.
The first cartoon that caught my eye as a youngster was Tom and Jerry. I saw a lot of myself in cheeky Jerry – constantly acting innocent after winding someone up (my brother, in particular) – so I felt I could relate. I then graduated to the old Looney Tunes, which had a character for everyone, from Bugs Bunny to the Tasmanian Devil and Tweety Pie – my personal favourite.
Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote would often have me and my dad in stitches as they waged a seemingly endless battle of wits.
It says a lot about the show that even without words and just a few well-placed ‘meep meeps’ from the super speedy bird, it still made us chuckle.
I was also lucky enough to be around for the dawn of proper, dedicated children’s channels. Whereas previous generations had to wait for Saturday mornings to get their cartoon fix, the launch of Cartoon Network opened up a whole new world of modern programmes.
Dexters’ Lab, The Powerpuff Girls and Pinky and the Brain were regularly watched in our household, but I also had to sit through Dragonball Z, Pokemon and Jonny Bravo, as my brother and I battled over the right to the remote control.
Most people my age will remember the Animaniacs too, which, whilst it wasn’t laugh out loud funny, did have one of the catchiest theme tunes. A lot of the time these cartoons would be funny but carry some sort of moral at the end too. But sadly for today’s youngsters, it just ain’t the same.
Perhaps it’s political correctness invading the world of animation, but kids these days are subjected to saccharine shows populated by cuddly puppets and piglets.
She may have raked in tens of millions for her creators, but Peppa Pig is surely one of the most irritating characters to hit our screens since Jedward.
I’ve had to sit through episodes with my young cousin, and found myself lamenting the fact she wasn’t growing up watching Wile E Coyote trying to take down his avian adversary with Acme dynamite.
Peppa might be hot property right now, with some online episodes boasting over 32million views, but my God is she annoying.
But just when I feared all hope was lost, news broke this week that secret agent Danger Mouse is set to return to our screens next year – two decades after his last appearance.
Perhaps this will be the first step in a triumphant return to the good old days of kids TV, when hippies and Great Danes ate giant sandwiches together and cat and mouse beat each other around the head with frying pans to their heart’s content.
This could be our only chance to save the current crop from a cartoon catastrophe.