Reggae-loving Rasta rodent on box

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TO NDR Rastamouse1

A NEW crew of furry creatures make their debut on local television today: Rastamouse and the Easy Crew on CBeebies (channel 306 on DStv).

Rastamouse is the most-talked about, coolest rodent in the UK, with celebrity fans, a record deal, several award nominations and an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival (a major contemporary arts festival in England) under his belt.

Not only is Rastamouse known for spreading all tings irie, mun, he is also great at solving crime mysteries and the everyday “mysteries” of life.

In an interview with Tonight the creators of the show, Michael de Souza and Genevieve Webster, shared their feelings on the beginnings of the Rastamouse book-turned-show and what children (and parents) can expect.

Webster explained that since the first Rastamouse book hit the shelves in 2001, they always knew he would be a hit, but never expected him to blow up this big.

“We both worked with children. Michael has been writing poetry for a while and a poem he wrote inspired me to draw Rastamouse.

“We felt he was a really special character and deserved his own story,” she said.

De Souza continued: “The books developed a following over the years, and with TV the character’s popularity just shot up further.”

Rastamouse had an empathy with children in trouble, De Souza explained. “At an early age you make a lot of mistakes, but it is okay, you’ve just got to make it right,” he said.

Webster picked up: “We both had experience around kids who’ve always been in trouble and not really had the chance to put it right. They are constantly told they are troublemakers.”

De Souza said Rastamouse was a “cool” character, with a number of human qualities that made him seem super.

“He’s also very thoughtful and wise,” said Webster.

The duo explained that in Rastamouse’s day-to-day problem-solving, the show relied heavily on reggae music: “We are big Rasta fans, so we had this idea to get kids to listen to some irie music,” laughed De Souza, saying Rastamouse was also an avid skater and skate-boarder.

On the developmental front, De Souza said apart from solving mysteries in each episode, Rastamouse also answered the mysteries of life, “dealing with issues such as lack of confidence and growing up. He deals with these things in a child-friendly way.”

Webster said: “The show deals with things like what is important is what is inside you. It is put in a subtle way, in a manner that can be easily absorbed.”

The show was also a shared experience in that older siblings could sit down with a younger brother or sister and watch it.

“This is something rare in TV as (target audiences) are usually split,” she explained.

The duo said they were happy that Rastamouse was launching in SA, thereby affording kids the opportunity to be “exposed to Rastamouse and his irieness”.

Described as the “biggest children’s television cult hit since Teletubbies”, Rastamouse features the adventures of the music-loving mouse and his friends, Scratchy and Zoomer – The Easy Crew – in their adventures about “makin’ a bad ting good”.

• Rastamouse debuts on CBeebies (channel 306, DStv) today. Episodes air at 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

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