Mr Benn Goes Walking
A cartoon character has to got a real Putney pathway named after him. BBC cartoon character Mr Benn lived at 52 Festive Road. This was based on my road ,riverside Festing Road,Putney, SW London where the cartoonist David McKee lived in the l970s. He said,” I changed the name to Festive, I felt the real name sounded to much like festering.”
In the last ten years I have lived in David McKee’s old house and led the residents of Festing Road in keeping this piece of national culture alive. In 2009 we clubbed together to have a commemorative Festive Road paving stone put down. David McKee came over from his home in France and Councillor now Wandsworth Mayor Jim Maddon did the honours.
Since then there have several street parties where Mr Benn and his various characters (pirate, chef, caveman, knight etc) were the fancy dress theme.
Now this year, Mr Benn’s 50 th anniversary the street has going one better and the pathway between Festing and Ashlone Roads has been named Festive Walk. This involved a petition and planning approval. Once again local residents helped by McKee have met the cost. The path signs went up this month.
David McKee “Of all the places I have lived Festing Road is perhaps the best. Friendly, quiet and humane in proportions it was a natural to place Mr Benn next door to myself and use some of the residents in street scenes. To have Festive Walk named is an honour for Mr Benn and myself, we are both very flattered. We wish the residents of the road as much happiness in living there as we had.”
For me, ” Mr Benn has been a wonderful excuse for communal action and identity. Most in the road love the idea that they are part of such an upbeat and positive character as Mr Benn. Some have talked of trying to get the name of the road changed, that would be very complicated and probably impossible. This has been fun and affordable. There are one or two newcomers in the road who say they have never heard of Mr Benn. They have now .”