This week we have blogger Lucian Badger talking about his love of forgotten eighties kids television show, The Butter Mouse. Back to the flash fiction next week!
Today, I come to you with a question. Why does nobody remember The Butter Mouse?
I know I did not make it up. I know I did not mistake it for another cartoon. I remember the start of every episode, when the titular words appeared, formed from a hundred different galaxies. This is the show the world forgot.
To fill you in, The Butter Mouse was a Saturday morning stop motion animation, the kind where you can still see the fingerprint marks in the clay. Each episode ran five minute apiece. The plot followed a creature called Butter Mouse, who travelled around in a spaceship (made of tinfoil and balsa wood) through the Spaghetti Sea, a world of different galaxies formed of different bits of pasta. Every episode he had a new adventure. Maybe multicoloured dragons would ride alongside his ship, or he would land on a planet full of castles made of soap.
Butter Mouse would always be OK, help out who he met, and by the end of the episode would be back in his spaceship, heading further into the Spaghetti Sea.
‘I wonder where I will go next…’ He always said at the end of each episode. You could never, ever guess.
A few years ago I had bit of a nostalgic moment, and decided to casually Google it. If someone had posted anything, even just the first thirty seconds. But I could not find any footage, not even a fuzzy snatch of VHS. There was not a single photo under images. There were no official releases on video or DVD, any book of the series, not even some home made badges.
All I found were the followers on a message board. Just a handful, but there were four or five people obsessed with the vanishing of The Butter Mouse. They swapped vague memories of plots, drew fan art, talked of funding a remake.
A user named WorldPeach32 provided the real gold dust. They had somehow found an old fanzine from the late eighties, which featured an interview with a couple named Ronald and Alison Jacobs. They apparently made every episode in a workshop in their home using super 16 cameras, building puppets, props and dioramas from scratch. This is why there is a Spaghetti Sea. It was what Ronald and Alison was in their kitchen.
What shocked me however was the postscript at the end of the article. A fire cut through their studio, wrecking the sets, destroying the master tapes, and taking the happy couple with it. The remains of their house and workshop lie empty and boarded up in a London suburb, lost in an argument with relatives and the banks that goes on to this day.
If that had been it, I would have moved on, and I doubt this article would ever have got written. But in the interview itself, there is a picture of Ronald and Alison standing in front of their house, clutching each other, and smiling. A little Butter Mouse sits on Ronald’s shoulder. Behind them is their front door, and on it a very distinctive door knocker. It was brass, in the shape of a mouse’s head. Clutched in the mouse’s jaws was a cat, the tail forming the handle which you use to knock on the door.
When asked in the interview where she got her ideas from, Mrs Jacobs responded.
‘We knock on the door for another adventure. And the mouse shows us everything we need to know.’
What WorldPeach32 started with his post were rumours. That rather than being the eccentric children television producing couple the Jacobs seemed to be, they had unlocked a door to another dimension. The door knocker was too weird to be real, people said. There are no screws on it. The Butter Mouse has vanished because it was their interpretation of visits to another world, and should never have been seen by human eyes.
Madness of course. But try and find clips of The Butter Mouse online, and you will not find it. That much is true.
That is all I have. With the masters gone, and apparently no recordings, you will never get a chance to see The Butter Mouse. But this is also why I have written this blog. I hope it will act as an alarm to anyone who has any memories of episodes, plots, and perhaps if we are really pushing the boat out, any recording. It is a silly thing I know, but I remember sitting in my parents living room, and marvelling. The animation and imagination in every episode was so amazing, and if we could find something, anything, it would be a true discovery.
So if you know anything at all, get in touch.