Festing Road Shares Memories of Mr Benn

David McKee described the street as 'friendly, quiet, humane'

A host of Mr Benns with David Mckee at the stone unveiling in 2009. Picture: Hugh Thompson


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The recent death of David McKee the creator of the hit cartoon show Mr Benn brought a host of thoughts and feelings to Festing Road, where McKee lived when he wrote the series.

Hugh Thompson lives in the house where author lived in the 1970s. He says, ”Mr Benn has given our street a place in the national culture, we even get the occasional pilgrim. It has given us all a pride and identity. Personally through putting down the commemorative stone and naming Festive Walk I got to know the man ,who was as delightful as he was creative. With Elmer and Rollo, a real national treasure.”

In 2009 McKee came to the street to unveil the commemorative stone. He famously said “Everyone thought I was stoned when I wrote Mr Benn, well, now I am”.

Emma Hyner lived in the house where Mr Benn was supposed to live and she put on the party that day. She say, ”I remember it well , I was heavily pregnant with Sadie and our kitchen was full of David’s family and our neighbours. It was jam packed and I made a life time volume of tea to warm everyone up.”

Annie Styles says,” I wasn’t conscious of Mr Benn when I first moved in but over the years his story and identity have helped make this street the very active community it is.”

In 2017 the street got together to pay for the naming of Festive Walk. McKee not only helped with the finance but wrote a letter from his home in Arles, Provence to the Council. He said “Of all the places I have lived Festing Road is perhaps the best. Friendly, quiet, humane...it was natural to place Mr Benn next door and use neighbours in street scenes...to have a place named Festive Walk is an honour for Mr Benn and myself, we are both flattered.”

The sign for Festive Walk
The sign for Festive Walk

Ian Johstone says, “ I loved Mr Benn as a kid I didn’t realise at first that this was his street. Now my kids love watching the show and picking out the houses .”

Last year during the street’s annual summer party the children had a Mr Benn fancy dress competition. McKee wrote in support “I travel very little now...it feels fantastic.. there is still Festing Road with its honest innocence...a perfect place to live in.. I wish everyone who lives there much happiness. I was very happy there and so was Mr Benn.”

David McKee (right) on a visit to Putney
David McKee (right) on a visit to Putney

And now he is gone, no doubt to the dressing up shop in the sky. The happiness he created will always remain.

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April 29, 2022

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