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Welcome to the Cheeky Weekly blog!
Cheeky Weekly ™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT ©  REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED was a British children's comic with cover dates spanning 22 October 1977 to 02 February 1980.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

The Whoopee Years - Cheeky Weekly Characters in the Popularity Polls - part 2

Before commencing this second part of my examination of the fortunes of our ex-Cheeky Weekly chums in the popularity polls following their absorption into Whoopee, I have to apologise because the version of the first part that I originally posted was in fact incomplete. I have therefore updated it, taking the opportunity to also correct an erroneous reference to the date of the demise of Ivor Swap.

The previous post in this series concluded with the Top Ten results printed in the issue dated 20 June 1981...

...it was later revealed that the Bumpkin Billionaires secured 2nd place, and at number 1 was Mustapha Million.

The next results appeared in the 20 February 1982 edition. No Top Ten voting coupon was printed in the intervening period, so the results were compiled from the small voting coupons that appeared on most Whoopee Chit-Chat letters pages - readers were asked to complete and return the coupon when responding to the participation features.

To understand what features were appearing in the comic between the previous results and those of 20 February 1982, let's first examine those that had ended between the two dates...

01-MAR-80 20-JUN-81 Dads As Lads
04-JUL-81 18-JUL-81 The Young Road Traveller's Handbook
11-OCT-80 05-SEP-81 Cheeky
12-SEP-81 26-SEP-81 The Spectacular New Adventures of Willie Bunk
03-OCT-81 24-OCT-81 How To Draw Comic Strips book two
31-OCT-81 07-NOV-81 The Firework Code
16-FEB-80 28-NOV-81 Ivor Swap
01-MAR-80 05-DEC-81 Claws V Caws
23-FEB-80 12-DEC-81 Sheerluck and Son
09-FEB-80 19-DEC-81 Supermum
12-SEP-81 26-DEC-81 Cheeky's Pal
12-SEP-81 02-JAN-82 Cheeky's Snail
12-SEP-81 02-JAN-82 Tee-Hee TV News
16-FEB-80 16-JAN-82 Blabbermouth
02-JAN-82 23-JAN-82 Cheeky Diary 1982
09-JAN-82 23-JAN-82 Cheeky Diary 1982 Instructions
12-SEP-81 23-JAN-82 Cheeky's Week
06-DEC-80 13-FEB-82 Pest Of The West

In this period all the strips that had appeared in rotation under the Merry-Go-Round banner (Dads as Lads, Ivor Swap, Claws V Caws, Sheerluck and Son, Supermum and Blabbermouth) had come to an end. Willie Bunk, owner of a pair of magical spectacles, who had first appeared in Whizzer and Chips, had been revived under the title The Spectacular New Adventures of Willie Bunk, drawn by Frank McDiarmid, in the 12 September 1981 edition. However, as of the 03 October 1981 issue the title of his adventures became Willie Bunk (although they were still new and not reprint), so his New Adventures run is listed in the above table. The cowboy comedy of reprinted Pest Of The West strips had also moseyed out of town. Cheeky's eponymous 4-pages-a-week strip had finished as of 05 September 1981, allowing Frank McD to begin work on the aforementioned Willie Bunk revival which made its debut the following week. Following the cancellation of the Cheeky strip, the toothy funster's allocation of weekly space was reduced to 2 pages, in an arrangement whereby his new strip, Cheeky's Week, shared the centre pages with strips entitled Cheeky's Pal, Cheeky's Snail and Tee-Hee TV News. Sadly, this attempt to revive our grinning pal's fortunes was evidently unsuccessful as all these strips were dropped by the end of January 1982.

What had started in the same time period?...

12-SEP-81 25-JUN-83 Tom Horror's World
03-OCT-81 24-APR-82 Willie Bunk
31-OCT-81 05-NOV-83 Guy Fawkes Supermask
28-NOV-81 03-APR-82 The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk
02-JAN-82 25-JUN-83 Teacher's Pets
30-JAN-82 15-MAY-82 It's Cheeky (second run)
06-FEB-82 27-FEB-82 Go to the Pictures - Free
20-FEB-82 06-MAR-82 Enter For Frankie's Monster Awards

The first impression is that the 'enders' far outnumber the 'starters', but that's of course because 6 of the features ending were being rotated on the Merry-Go-Round so weren't appearing every week. Willie Bunk appears twice in the above table - as mentioned earlier, following 3 weeks under the title The Spectacular New Adventures of Willie Bunk, the young optically-enhanced hero went on to appear under the more succinct, non-eyewear-referencing heading of Willie Bunk. However, on 2 occasions during the period under review, reprints appeared entitled The Spectacular Adventures of Willie Bunk. Reg Parlett's Teacher's Pets had begun, the editor clearly not troubled by doubts that readers would find another school-based strip (Stage School was of course a fixture of the comic at this time) a surfeit of classroom capers. Another lurch in Cheeky's career occurred with the launch of a second run of strips titled It's Cheeky, this time contracting to just to a single page per week.

What strips/features were ongoing?...

09-FEB-80 24-APR-82 Smiler's Smile-In
09-FEB-80 24-APR-82 Whoopee Chit-Chat
09-FEB-80 25-JUN-83 Smiler
09-FEB-80 12-JAN-85 Cover Feature
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Bookworm
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Bumpkin Billionaires
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Calculator Kid
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Frankie Stein
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Lolly Pop
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Mustapha Million
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Paddywack
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Stage School
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Sweeny Toddler
09-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Toy Boy
16-FEB-80 30-MAR-85 Chip
01-MAR-80 19-JAN-85 Top Ten voting coupon
10-MAY-80 09-MAR-85 Top Ten Results
01-NOV-80 27-OCT-84 Guy Fawkes Mask
08-NOV-80 24-APR-82 Blinketty Blink
10-JAN-81 24-APR-82 The Cavers
21-MAR-81 27-NOV-82 Whoopee It's Quiz Time
28-MAR-81 27-MAR-82 Mother's Day Messages
09-MAY-81 25-JUN-83 Robot Granny

Calculator Kid, Mustapha Million and Stage School continued with their formats unchanged since being transferred into Whoopee. Paddywack had been thrust to stardom on the front cover and his strip expanded, but he was then demoted to the interior although securing a whole page. Gran had been transformed from her former $6,000,000 incarnation into Robot Granny.

So what was the readers' verdict on the comic's contents as revealed in the 20 February 1982 poll results?...

The Billionaires had bumped Mustapha from his former top spot to number 3. Calculator Kid was up one place to number 4. The aspiring showbiz stars of Stage School had moved up the bill from 10th to 7th place. Gran and Paddywack were unplaced despite the changes wrought to their strips, as was Cheeky, notwithstanding the considerable efforts made to find a format for him that would prove popular.

My examination of the fortunes of the ex-Cheeky Weekly funny folk in the Whoopee Top Ten polls continues in part 3.

Back to part 1