Cartoon capers add menace to Edinburgh Tattoo

TROUBLE lies ahead for the Tattoo. Dennis the Menace is set to shake up Scotland’s military showcase after organisers agreed to give him a starring role.

The iconic cartoon character in his trademark red and black jumper is set to be unleashed at the Military Tattoo on Edinburgh Castle esplanade under a tie-in with the Dundee-basesd publishers of The Beano.

He and Minnie the Minx are set to perform stunts on BMX bikes during each performance this August as part of a shake-up of the long-running event.

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Artists behind The Beano, Oor Wullie and The Broons have also created a special commemorative poster of the Tattoo, which will be distributed with all programmes for the event.

And a new book due out to coincide with the Tattoo features Wullie and several members of The Broons paying a visit to the highly-popular tourist attraction.

Tattoo organisers admit the appearance of Dennis and Minnie, along with other “surprises” for audiences, are part of an attempt to shed the event’s “stuffy” reputation.

This year’s show will also see a six-minute excerpt of music created for the new Disney-Pixar film Brave, which is set in Scotland. Composers Patrick Doyle and James Sherman have been working with Tattoo musical experts to adapt some of the music from the film so it can be performed by the massed pipes and drums.

Tattoo producer Brigadier David Alfrey, who is masterminding his first full show this year, is urging audiences to “bling up” to help celebrate the main theme of this year’s 
performance, the Queen’s 
Diamond Jubilee.

Brigadier Alfrey said: “We’re very excited that Dennis the Menace and Minnie will be coming to the show to entertain our audience, although we can’t say too much about what they’ll be up to on the night. People will have to keep a close eye out for them.

“I’ve always been a fan of The Beano. It’s such an institution and I can even remember reading it overseas when I was on exercise in the Army. People might find it a bit surprising we’re doing something like this, but all the traditional elements of the Tattoo will still be there.

“We’ve always got to manage the balance between what people expect to see and keeping the show fresh every year with something a bit left-field like using characters from The Beano.”

John-Paul Murphy, head of marketing at DC Thomson, said: “Our comic characters and the Tattoo are truly iconic and have stood the test of time.

“When David told us of his mischief-making plans for this year, it seemed a perfect fit with Dennis and Minnie and we were pleased to join forces.”

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is set to be marked on the esplanade by a series of graphic installations showing the monarch at various stages of her reign.

But Alfrey hopes many of the 220,000 people expected to flock to the event will get into the Jubilee-spirit by wearing diamond-themed attire.

He said: “We want the whole audience to be sparkling, whether it is digging out old tiaras at home, wearing a sparkly outfit or creating special diamond-themed costume for the night, we want people to use their imagination before they come along.”

The DC Thomson tie-up with the Tattoo has been unveiled weeks after it emerged that Edinburgh Zoo’s pandas were being featured in The Beano, Britain’s best-selling comic, which was first published in 1938.

Yang Guang and Tian Tian followed in the footsteps of other famous features to feature in the comic, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, US President Barack Obama, the Queen, Andy Murray and Simon Cowell.

The tie-up with Disney over the film Brave has involved several months of negotiation. The Tattoo’s showcasing of the music will coincide with the public release in Scotland of the film on 3 August, the opening night of the esplanade spectacular. It is hoped that the link-up will help generate further interest in the film, which shot to the top of the US box office in its opening weekend and is expected to generate more than £140 million for Scotland’s economy.

Alfrey said: “We’ve been speaking to Disney for some time about using some of the music from Brave in the show, which so many people are saying is going to be huge for Scotland, and we’re delighted we’ve been given permission to have some of the pieces performed live on the esplanade.”