It was the executive, in the boardroom, with the hatchet...

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The Independent Online

For more than half a century they have stood accused of murder in British living rooms, but now Colonel Mustard and friends may have killed their last.

The board game Cluedo has been torn up and redesigned for the 21st century: its cast of six characters, including the balding Reverend Green, the erudite Professor Plum and the glamorous blonde Miss Scarlett, have fallen victim to the falling blade of its manufacturers, Hasbro.

The company's marketing department has decided that Cluedo, in which players try to uncover the identity of a murderer, has become too stuffy and old fashioned. The game has remained virtually untouched since its launch in 1949 but it will now be updated in time for Christmas.

The haughty Mrs Peacock, the portly Mrs White and their contemporaries have been replaced by characters including a computer-game billionaire and a film star. Their surnames will remain, but the original characters have been stripped of their titles and given first names to try to make them accessible.

The austere Reverend Green has morphed into a debonair fixer named Jacob Green, while Colonel Mustard has become the slick former footballer Jack Mustard. Each character has also been endowed with a special skill, which can be used to gain an advantage over their opponents as they rush to solve the mystery.

Seasoned Cluedo players accustomed to searching for clues in the study, library, ballroom and conservatory will find themselves lost: the board itself has also been brought up to date to resemble a luxury modern pad instead of an ageing English country house. The new rooms include a film theatre, spa,boardroom and patio.

The murder weapons have been modernised. Killers can choose from a dumb-bell, axe and baseball bat. The murderer has also been given the ability to strike again at any point in the game, adding an element of suspense as players try to avoid becoming part of the body count.

A spokesman for Hasbro said: "We wanted to bring the game bang up to date. The new characters are more in tune with modern society, and, with the added touch of a first name, more human.

"The new rooms and weapons have helped to give the game a much-needed facelift, and with the added risk of players being killed off mid-play we have increased its tempo."

Anthony Ernest Pratt, a solicitor's clerk from Birmingham, invented Cluedo in 1943 with the help of his wife, who came up with the famous board design. Five years later he submitted it to Waddington's Games, which published it for the first time in 1949.

Jason Howlett, of the Games Club, which organises board and card games in central London, said Cluedo was popular because it was easy to learn and good for the whole family to play.

"This update just seems to be a bit like what they've done with Monopoly – slap a new skin on top of it so they can sell more copies... Putting a new skin on it might make it more accessible to the younger generation."