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Last Updated: Friday, 13 February, 2004, 10:32 GMT
Birthday bash in Bash Street
Ten things about The Bash Street Kids, the Beano cartoon which celebrated its 50th birthday on Friday.

Class act: The Bash Street Kids back in the 50s

1. The strip was titled When the Bell Rings when it first appeared on February 13, 1954. However readers and Beano staff almost immediately began referring to it as The Bash Street Kids. The name was officially adopted in 1956.

2. Just two men have been responsible for drawing almost every one of well over 2,000 strips. Creator Leo Baxendale drew The Bash Street Kids until 1962. His successor, David Sutherland, is nearing his 1,800th episode.

3. Teacher appeared in a photo shoot with pop band Take That in 1994, as part of a bid by his pupils to make him more trendy.

4. The last regular character to join the strip was Olive the cook in 1980. The purveyor of consistently awful school dinners was based on the Beano's tea lady at the time, the now-deceased Olive Milne. Insiders say her brews "could strip paint".

5. Ten years ago, school inspectors closed down Bash Street School and sacked all the staff. Meanwhile help was offered to the kids, including plastic surgery for Plug, sunlamp treatment for Spotty, and a diet for Fatty. The changes prompted a reader outcry involving petitions and hundreds of letters, forcing the Beano to put things back the way they were.

Looking good: These 50-year-olds have aged well
I can't think of anything I'd rather have done in my life than create Bash Street
Leo Baxendale

6. The last pupil to join class 2B was Cuthbert Cringeworthy in the early 1970s. The class swot's striking resemblance to Teacher has prompted suspicion about his parentage. The kids all look exactly like their parents, and even their pets, while Teacher looks exactly his wife, Mrs Teacher - even down to the moustache.

7. The kids of class 2B also appeared in text story form in the comic, The Wizard, in the late 1950s.

8. Aesthetically-challenged character Plug - real name: Percival Proudfoot Plugsley - was originally known as Pug. The Beano claims the "l" was added when classmate Smiffy had one to spare, having mis-spelt "silly".

9. Leo Baxendale saw Plug as a child version of The Goon Show character Eccles.

10. Acne-ridden schoolboy Spotty has christened all his pimples with names beginning with "S". A particular favourite is Simon, who can be found on his stomach.

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