The Third Leader: Yogi and friends

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The Independent Online

Yabba Dabba Doo! It's not, admittedly, the most decorous way of marking the final credits for Joseph Barbera, but I'm sure the great man would forgive us, as Fred Flintstone's mighty yell best sums up what Barbera and his partner, William Hanna, brought to entertainment: that most uncomplicated and American of qualities: exuberant energy.

There are, of course, those who are a bit sniffy about the quality of the Hanna-Barbera oeuvre, just as there are those who are sniffy about American qualities, which are not in their highest period of international esteem. But the influence of the former as a popular expression of the latter in the late-20th century is matched only by the output.

Tom and Jerry, the Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, Quick Draw McGraw, Scooby-Doo and many more: each generation will have its favourite, but the manic produce also shares another unfashionable asset: warmth.

Michael Barrymore once told me that, to succeed in light entertainment, "the audience has to like you", a theory his career has gone on to prove pretty spectacularly. And thus certainly with children's cartoons. But anyone who can produce equal amounts of sympathy for both Tom and Jerry is touched by genius. What a pity Hanna and Barbera couldn't have been employed on other stages, such as, for example, the Middle East.

And now, after considering, and rejecting, some deeper messages, such as Officer Dibble in Top Cat as a well-meaning and impotent Uncle Sam, I am going outside to voice a final tribute to H&B and lost days by shouting, very loudly, "Smarter than the average bear, Boo-Boo!"