His adventures always end by the shopkeeper reappearing and leading him back to the changing room, and so the story comes to an end. Mr Benn then returns to his normal life, but is left with a small souvenir of his magical adventure. Additionally, scenes before and after his adventure usually have some connection to his adventure, such as the games the children are playing in the street as he passes.
Several of Mr Benn’s adventures are available to buy in book-form: four were published originally, and further books in the 1990s were based on the television series. The original four books were: Mr Benn – Red Knight, Big Game Benn, 123456789 Benn and Big Top Benn. There were six original books planned, but the fifth and sixth were never published. The fifth was called Mr Benn Rides Again, the story of which was used to make the television episode The Cowboy. The sixth, never completed, was Superbenn, in which the superhero Mr Benn sets out on an environmental adventure.
There is one book for which no corresponding television episode has ever been made. 123456789 Benn was published in 1970 and tells the story of Mr Benn as a prison convict inspiring his jail-mates to brighten up their cells. However, the BBC felt that the story was too mature for a children’s series and was never broadcast.
In 1999, it was reported that a feature film was in development. The film was to star John Hannah as Mr Benn and Ben Kingsley as the Shopkeeper. However, the film was cancelled in 2001 and the project has remained dormant ever since.
Writer David McKee published a new story in 2001, the first Mr Benn story in thirty years, and is called Mr Benn – Gladiator. He has also hinted that he may write more Mr Benn stories in the future but nothing more has been forthcoming.
The series was voted the sixth most popular children’s television programme in the 2001 Channel 4 poll 100 Greatest Kids’ TV shows. It was also rated number 13 in the 50 Greatest Kids TV Shows which aired on Channel 5 in 2013.
Tate Publishing republished all of the original books in 2010.
Mr Benn has decided to join Jammy Toast to tell his own side of his stories rather than having everyone rely on David McKee’s versions. Stay tuned as we welcome Mr Benn to Jammy Toast next month with his first story, The Red Knight.