Mr Benn coins on sale to mark cartoon’s 50th anniversary

·2-min read

New 50p coins featuring Mr Benn designs approved by the Queen have gone on sale.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1970s cartoon, Guernsey Treasury has released the coins bearing illustrations of the character on some of his best known adventures including The Red Knight and The Spaceman.

The collection includes a colourful limited edition official anniversary coin which sports a stylised Mr Benn character standing in front of a number 50. It costs £65.

Mr Benn 50th Anniversary
(Westminster Collection/PA)

The 50p coins bearing the cartoon’s characteristic black suit and bowler hat start at £6.25, and are available from the Westminster Collection.

The original creator and illustrator David McKee said the cartoons have allowed people to “escape to another life” over the past half-century.

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He said: “Mr Benn endures, I think, because people like the idea of being able to escape to another life, and at their heart they’re old-fashioned stories which last.

“The elements that make up the films – the voice, the music, the story – all simple elements that endure, good old-fashioned stories, with a good rhythm.”

Mr Benn 50th Anniversary
(Westminster Collection/PA)

He said his creation is “living his own life” through the coin collection.

Mr McKee said: “I often say your characters are like your children – you potty train them and look after them and point them in a good direction, but they go off and do things you don’t expect.

“Mr Benn is living his own life and I’m excited to see what people make of the new products that are coming, and hope a new generation of children enjoy them as much as me.”

The stories – which followed the pattern of Mr Benn leaving his house at 52 Festive Road in London before being transformed at a fancy dress shop and entering another world appropriate to his outfit – began life as a children’s picture book in 1967.

Mr Benn 50th Anniversary
(Westminster Collection/PA)

Mr McKee’s book was transformed into a popular animated television series first transmitted by the BBC in 1971.

It was aired by the broadcaster for almost 30 years until Nickelodeon UK showed the series for a further nine years until 2010.

In 2017, UK-based animation studio Factory acquired the rights to Mr Benn, allowing the company to grow the classic brand and release a series of 50th anniversary products including the new 50p coins.

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