The Deceived is a four-part contemporary thriller created and written by Lisa McGee (of Derry Girls fame) and Tobias Beer. It’s recently finished airing on Virgin Media One here in Ireland, and for me, personally, it was an absolute triumph.
Not because of the story or the acting or the scenery or whatever, although there was definitely some of that stuff in the show, as far as I recall.
No, for me the show was memorable because in one scene a character enters a dark room and in the background we see this:
A copy of Hoot comic! (Actually, it technically should be called “It’s a Hoot” because “It’s a” is tucked away in the top-left corner of every cover, just above the logo.)
In the same vein as its older siblings The Beano, The Dandy, The Topper, The Beezer, Buzz, Cracker, Plug, and Nutty, Hoot was a humour comic packed with one- or two-page strips. It was the final mostly-original humour comic from DC Thomson: it was followed by comics like BeanoMax, Danger Mouse and The Beezer and Topper, but all of those were based on pre-existing material. Hoot was also, sadly, one of the publisher’s least successful comics.
Hoot (DC Thomson)
First issue: 26 October 1985
Last issue: 25 October 1986
Absorbed into: The Dandy
It’s a shame it didn’t catch on because it was pretty manic stuff and I know I would have loved it as a kid. For me, the standout strip was “Cuddles,” about a hyperactive infant who constantly got into trouble. “Cuddles” originated in Nutty in 1981, and the similarly-themed “Dimples” started in The Dandy a few years later. When Hoot and The Dandy merged, the strips were mashed together to become “Cuddles and Dimples” with the characters retconned to be twin brothers. (Their other brother, Sybok, was never mentioned.)
(Note for older readers: “Retcon” is a portmanteau derived from “retroactive continuity.” Remember when Bobby Ewing was brought back and they pretended that all the episodes since his death never really happened? It’s like that.)
(Note for younger readers: A “portmanteau” word is, like, when a bruv does a mash-up of two songs but instead of songs it’s like two different words to get a wicked new word, like “Chillax” which comes from “chill and relax,” or “Cosplay” which comes from “dressing up and pretending to be a character from a show or a game or something, I don’t know, I’ve never been able to get my head around it, but, sure, they look like they’re having fun doing whatever it is they do, so why not?”)
Throughout Hoot‘s entire run, right up to the end, the below-the-logo tagline was “Britain’s Bubbling New Comic!” It’s not the “new” part that was a problem, though: I’m sure that featuring “Britain” on the cover couldn’t have helped sales over here in Ireland (see also: Captain Britain).
Nevertheless, the comic was indeed available here in The People’s Glorious Republic of Ireland if The Deceived is anything to go by, because the scene in which the comic appears is set in Donegal (the jaggedy bit up in the top-left).
As comic fans I’m sure that the question currently and urgently tickling the back of your mind is “Yeah, but which issue of Hoot was used as part of that scene’s set-dressing?”
With our previous entry in this series, Life on Mars, I was able to take screen-grabs from Netflix on the PC, but for The Deceived The only way I was able to capture the image was to photograph the screen, which gives less than clear results, and the image wasn’t that clear to begin with. Here’s a zoomed-in close-up magnified and size-enhanced look at it:
I wasn’t going to let lack of detail stop me… After all, there were only fifty-three issues of Hoot published, so all I had to do was examine the covers one-by-one until I found one that had the right pattern of indistinct brownish and bluish smudges beneath the logo.
And, indeed, find it I did…
It’s actually the final issue of the comic. On the Grand Comics Database this is the only cover of Hoot that’s tagged as “Needs replacement” which suggests that this issue is quite rare… so if you’ve been having a tough time tracking down this last issue, now you know that a copy was used to dress the set of a TV show probably filmed sometime in 2019.
(Spoiler alert: The comic isn’t integral to the plot, probably, so I expect that it’s unlikely anyone involved in the production kept it as a souvenir.)