Having found success by producing a Saturday morning cartoon filled show called "Fun Factory" presented by two puppets and one human, UK's Sky Channel, which at in it's early years had more viewers across mainland Europe than in the British Isles, asked Dutch producer John de Mol to produce a similar, daily show to be broadcast between five and six pm, then repeated a week later at seven thirty am (central European time). Thus, the "DJ Kat show" was produced in Holland (hence the Dutch spelling of cat), filmed in Hilversum but performed in English and debuted on the first of September, 1986. It starred a scruffy looking puppet of a cat, not at all based on the then popular Cool Cat logo, wearing a Fonzie jacket and a permanent scowl on his face. The reason he claimed to be a DJ was probably because Sky Channel was basically an MTV rip off during the day (this was before MTV Europe was born) and TV-land at night. DJ was performed by German puppeteer Robbie Hahn. His foil was played by Linda de Mol (John's sister) already a regular on Sky Channel and just about to start her own talk show on Tros television in Holland (produced by, you guessed it, big brother John).
DJ and Linda only appeared as a framework feature between the 'toons (including eighties regulars such as Inspector Gadget, Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling, M.A.S.K, Heathcliff and Transformers, as well as three filler uppers from Filmation originally produced for "Uncle Croc's block": M*U*S*H, Wacky & Packy and Fraidy Cat. Occasionally there were even some life action shows, including The Double Deckers and Ivanhoe. Not exactly what you would call a great roll model, DJ always insisted on drinking milk from a dirty glass (don't try that at home, kids) and his favorite meal was something called 'Yuck'. One episode featured him singing a five minute version of "All you need is Yuck", which was made bearable only by the power of the original Lennon and McCartney composition. Other stories (written by Mies Bouwman's son and former front man of Bloom, Joost Timp) included DJ teaching Linda how to speak cat language, planning to become a superhero, or the next James Bond (agent 006 and a half in this case). Shows usually ended on a shot of Linda looking on exasperated (blowing into her hair so a lock of it would fly up). After a while, the morning edition was preceded by a 5 minute "DJ Kat Wakeup club" in which DJ congratulated young viewers on their birthday if they send in a card to notify him.
Starting February 1989, Sky suddenly decided to stop broadcasting in Europe and concentrate on the British satellite market instead. DJ Kat being their property, the show was moved to Blackbird productions in London and directed by Jon Coxall. Kat got a new female foil, Steffanie Pitt (daughter of Hammer Queen Ingrid) and a Scouse mouse called Yummy Tickle Mouse (a name that still baffles me to this day), later joined by an even smaller rodent she referred to as 'our Cheesie'. After yet another round of negotiations, September 1989 saw Robbie Hahn replaced by British puppeteer Don Austin and Steffi by a Katrina Hylon Hull, but as she did not do any tap routines in tight mouse outfits like Steffi, she never quite held by interest much. Unlike Linda, Miss Pitt got 'properly' written out: she supposedly joined a band called "The Sweet Patatoes". In 1998, Steffanie briefly sang lead for the failed parody band "The Slice Girls". Meanwhile, the concept for the show had already been sold to Fox kids, where an American version (with a softer, fluffier looking version of the Kat) was already going strong (wether it was Sky or John de Mol who got the money for this, I am not sure).
Never one to be outmaneuvered, John de Mol had his sister and Robbie and Joost back at work almost immediately, after converting the Kat puppet into a big shaggy dog (the same shape of the head was unmistakable though) for a Dutch children's show called "De Billy Hotdog Show" that debuted during the 1989 winter season. Instead of speaking English with an American accent, now Robbie got to talk Dutch with his own German one.
7 out of 10
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