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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October 2004, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Scooby's years of snacks and scares
Children's cartoon Scooby-Doo has officially become the most prolific TV animation in history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Scooby-Doo
Scooby-Doo first appeared in 1969
Canine crimefighter Scooby-Doo may have remained seven years old on screen since he first appeared - but in dog years he would be 245 by now.

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon series has entertained generations of children - and adults - since 1969, with new versions, spin-offs and movie versions.

But despite its popularity, those nefarious janitors - whose disguises are invariably unmasked by "those pesky kids" - never seem to learn.

It began when CBS's head of children's programming, Fred Silverman, wanted to bring a new look to Saturday morning TV.

He was prompted by criticisms of the allegedly violent content of programmes such as Superman and Space Ghost.

William Hanna and Joe Barbera had years of cartoon success behind them, but wanted to try something different - a series that would incorporate contemporary human characters.

Scooby-Doo book
Scooby-Doo is still a children's favourite
But the show - under the working titles Mysteries Five and Who's Scared? - was rejected at first, when TV executives judged the cartoon's haunted houses, monsters and eerie locations too scary for children.

Fred Silverman is credited with softening the tone of the show by making the huge dog a yellow-bellied comedy figure.

He is also credited with coming up with the name for the Great Dane - Scooby-Doo - reportedly inspired by Frank Sinatra's improvised vocals on Strangers in The Night, who sang: "Dooby dooby do - be dooby dooby dooby dooby dooby do."

Teenage gang

The show launched in the US on 13 September 1969 with a cast of cartoon teenagers - the sensible, all-American leader Fred, bespectacled and brainy Velma, pretty Daphne and the bumbling hippy Shaggy.

The gang travelled throughout the country in their van, The Mystery Machine, on the trail of supernatural adventures.

Almost every episode followed a certain formula.

The team would arrive in a foreboding spot, to take on a local ghoul ruining things for everyone else.

Scooby and Shaggy in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Two films featuring a computer-animated Scooby have been made
After chases, accidents and scares - but no actual violence - the team would unravel the mystery, usually helped by Scooby-Doo chancing on a lucky clue.

Fred and Velma would reveal that the malevolent presence was actually a real person, posing as a ghost to scare others away from some selfish scheme.

And inevitably, the villain would say, as they were led away, that they would have succeeded in their evil efforts "if it weren't for those pesky kids".

Their adventures would be punctured by the hilarious and cowardly antics of Shaggy and Scooby, who invariably ended up in ridiculous scrapes after splitting off from the rest of the group.

Hip-hop

After 10 years, a few changes were made. Scooby-Doo was teamed with a new partner - his cheeky nephew Scrappy - in Scooby and Scrappy-Doo.

There was another change in 1982 with the introduction of a Wild West cousin, Yabba-Doo in Scooby, Scrappy and Yabba-Doo - but these new characters are not as well-regarded by Scooby-Doo enthusiasts.

Other experiments included The 13 Ghosts of Scooby, which added characters and a more action-adventure format, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, which reinvented the original gang as hip-hop 12-year-olds solving mysteries around Coolsville.

In 2002, a new series featuring the classic cast - What's New Scooby-Doo? - began, bringing the gang into the modern age with mobile phones and new technology.

Blockbuster

That year, Scooby also made it onto the big screen for the first time, with actors like Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar taking the roles of Scooby's sidekicks.

But the Great Dane himself was still animated, albeit by computer this time.

Critics savaged the film, but that did not stop it doing good blockbuster business at the box office, earning more than $150m (80m) in the US alone.

A sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, came out in March 2004 - and earned a $84m (45m) from the children's market.


SEE ALSO
Scooby-Doo breaks cartoon record
25 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
Scooby takes US box office lead
29 Mar 04 |  Entertainment
Scooby snaps up box office
16 Jul 02 |  Entertainment
Favourite Scooby-Doo moments
12 Jul 02 |  Entertainment

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