Alexander Armstrong says that voicing the new CBBC version of Danger Mouse is “the nearest thing I’ll ever get to Bond”.
The presenter of BBC One quiz show Pointless plays the new show’s title character, originally voiced by David Jason in the Cosgrove Hall production, which aired on ITV between 1981 and 1992.
“Danger Mouse is kind of James Bond; he’s sort of Batman with the car too,” the 45-year-old said. “But most definitely the nearest thing I’ll ever get to Bond. I’ve just about given up my white-knuckle grip on the possibility of playing Bond.”
An affectionate spoof of 007, the animated children’s series Danger Mouse - which returned to the screens today - depicts the adventures of an eye patch-wearing, secret-agent mouse.
News of the reboot startled fans who cherish the original incarnation. In addition to enjoying success in the UK, the much-loved cult series was also a big hit in countries including the US, Australia, Germany and Sweden.
Armstrong admitted to nerves for his new version. “I think when you take on a titular role like that, and a famous role, inevitably it’s a big deal; it’s not something you can just slide into.
“It’s a weird mixture of wanting to do the right thing by the wonderful character David Jason created, but at the same time to make sure the new version was mine as well.”
The CBBC series co-stars comedian Kevin Eldon as Danger Mouse’s sidekick Penfold, voiced in the original ITV series by the late Terry Scott, and Shauna MacDonald of The Descent fame, who plays new character Professor Squawkencluck - the niece of the original professor.
An impressive roster of names recruited for the reboot includes Stephen Fry as pompous veteran spy Colonel K, formerly played by The Archers star Edward Kelsey - who also voiced amphibious villain Baron Silas Greenback during the ITV run (actor Ed Gaughan takes on that role in the revival).
Game Of Thrones star Lena Heady will play US Secret Agent Jeopardy Mouse and fellow Brit John Oliver, host of US show Last Week Tonight, will voice mad scientist wolf Dr Augustus P Crumhorn III.
Armstrong’s Pointless co-host Richard Osman is also joining in the fun to play a faceless jellyfish in a motorised fish tank named Professor Strontium Jellyfishowitz.
The Danger Mouse reboot presented funnyman Eldon with the biggest challenge due to Penfold’s distinctive voice.
“When I went along to the casting, they didn’t say we’d have to do it exactly as it was, which I thought was an interesting take on it,” he revealed.
“I tried a few different voices: I took the tone right down - didn’t work at all. Then I did him a little West Country - didn’t work. Did him a bit northern - didn’t work. And then in the end, Terry Scott’s one really worked so I tried that.”
Eldon pointed to what he believes is a crucial difference: “I think I’m a little less posh with my Penfold voice than Mr Scott was.”
He added: “We can’t do any more than three or four episodes a day; the voice just won’t take it because it’s right up in the register and they didn’t tell me to get husky or lose any resonance so there’s lots of ginger tea and honey around the place to keep the voice clear.”
Armstrong believes we’re all more like the two lead characters than we know. “I think Danger Mouse and Penfold are two sides of all of us, really,” he said.
“We have a fantasy of ourselves as a kind of Danger Mouse figure, who’s this rather daring superhero character who can fly and do all this ‘chwing-chwing’ stuff and ‘pow’ baddies into oblivion and then the actual side of us, which is the Penfold side, which would rather just be uncomfortable in our collars and ties and be myopic and be at home eating toast and watching telly.”
Danger Mouse airs today on CBBC.