Cole Moreton: Who killed Cluedo's Col Mustard?

It was Hasbro, in the boardroom, with a plan

Share
Related Topics

Thank you for coming. You may be wondering why you have all been called here, to the drawing room. I am afraid there has been a terrible murder. Colonel Mustard is dead.

Yes, madam, you may well gasp. The Colonel has received his last orders. And he is far from the sole victim, I am afraid. Mrs Peacock struts no more. Miss Scarlett's blood soaks the Persian carpet. Professor Plum is beyond reinvention. The Rev Green hasn't a prayer. And Mrs White, doyenne of the kitchen? Her goose is cooked.

For nearly 60 years, these characters have roamed the Hampshire mansion of one Dr Black, puzzling over who made toast of their host. They were all, frankly, suspect. Players of the board game Cluedo were given reason to believe it was one of the guests who had done for the doctor, with a revolver, a rope, a length of lead piping or a candlestick (by roasting his toes?).

Cluedo became a worldwide phenomenon, but the six suspects never changed. Until now. The game has been relaunched. Bang! The Colonel is out of action, replaced by a football pundit called Jack Mustard. Aaagh! The Professor has mutated into a "self-made video game designer billionaire" called Victor Plum. Oof! The vicar is now an unsaintly fixer and wide boy called Jacob Green. All the suspects have lost their titles and been given first names as well as new, funky occupations. Diane White is a former child star; Eleanor Peacock a vain social entrepreneur; Kasandra Scarlet (dropping a "t") a Hollywood leading lady.

Poor old Dr Black, meanwhile, remains slumped on the floor. And alongside him is the corpse of old England. Cluedo was originally created in the depths of war, in 1943, by a solicitor's clerk from Birmingham called Anthony Pratt. With his wife and parlour-gaming friends, Mr Pratt devised a setting and a list of characters that seemed quintessentially English: the clergyman, the retired officer, the inventor, the rosy-cheeked cook, the respectable wife and the slightly racy single gal.

It was nostalgic even then, an evocation of a genteel pre-war England in which people knew their place and all a policeman had to do was lay his hand on the murderer's shoulder. Hasbro says Cluedo has been remade to be "more in tune with modern society". So what do the changes tell us about the way we are? That footballers are more respected than war heroes. That video games are cooler than science. That age and experience count for little. Youth, beauty and money are what matter now.

And that we're all still as gullible as ever. Remember New Coke? Coca-Cola messed with a winning formula in 1985 and launched a sweeter taste to try to match the sales of rival Pepsi. There was outrage across America – so much so that only 77 days later the company reintroduced the original, rebranding it as Classic. Everyone was reminded how much they loved the original, which now felt special instead of tired, and soon it was outselling Pepsi. Which may have been the plan all along.

Hasbro says it has stopped sending out the old Cluedo. Asked if it will be relaunched, a spokesman laughs and says, "I don't know about that." But as we all know, in murder mysteries people often say the opposite of what they mean. Inspector, there is your answer: Col Mustard was killed by the money people, in the marketing department, with a plan. My advice? Don't wait for Cluedo Classic to come out in a year or so. Borrow granny's. Far better to die in England than Blingland.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Party chairman Grant Shapps at the Tory conference  

Nastiness thrives in Tory Britain but voters won’t put up with it any more

Andreas Whittam Smith
This year marks the centenary of the First World War  

Muslims remember too: The poppy hijab will combat hatred on both sides

Sughra Ahmed
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain