If I remember correctly, when I was a kid, The Pink Panther Show was on BBC1 in the UK on a Saturday evening just before Doctor Who.
The character first appeared, of course, in the animated opening credits of the 1963 live action film The Pink Panther, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau (who is investigating the theft of the world’s biggest diamond, a pink gem with a flaw in it that resembles a leaping panther, hence the title).
It was, I believe, basically a TV repackaging of short cartoons originally produced for release in cinemas (back in the days when films were screened with cartoons and supporting features). The first in the series, The Pink Phink, won the Oscar for best animated short in 1964.
The cartoons starred either the Pink Panther himself or a stylised, animated version of Inspector Clouseau (though he is only ever referred to as “The Inspector” – possibly for copyright reasons – he is clearly based on Sellers’ character).
The Pink Panther cartoon is memorable for two very good reasons.
First, there was a Pink Panther candy bar on sale in the UK in the 1970s which was outstandingly good.
It was pink (obviously) and was basically pink, strawberry-flavoured white chocolate. But it was the best pink, strawberry-flavoured white chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Admittedly, that’s based on a pretty small sample size, given the general lack of pink, strawberry-flavoured white chocolate on the market, a situation that really needs rectifying.
The second reason The Pink Panther Show is so memorable is its opening credits.
First of all, there is the theme song (written by Doug Goodwin and not to be confused by the instrumental Pink Panther theme, composed by Henry Mancini, that used in the films and in most of the short cartoons), with its catchy, instantly familiar music and lyrics – “Think of all the animals you’ve ever heard about, like rhinoceroses and tigers, cats and mink…”
And on top of that, you have that amazing pink rocket car, driven by a 10-year-old(!), that the Pink Panther and the Inspector arrive in (note that they are dropped off at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard).
It is quite possibly the only cool pink car in the world (and yes, that includes Lady Penelope‘s pink Rolls Royce). Some 30-odd years after I first saw the Pink Panthermobile, I still want one of them.
But until someone buys me one, I guess I’ll just have to make do with revelling in the nostalgia of these opening titles. Enjoy!