John Ryan died today aged 88. I am too young to recall Captain Pugwash's heyday: I discovered him as an adult through Ryan's picture books. But I do have fond memories of Sir Prancelot from the early 1970s.
Pugwash war revived in the 1990s. This was in the days when I did not have a television, but I did see an episode at someone else's house. The animation had been jazzed up and modern sensibilities had dictated that the Captain should have a Black crewman. But he was as stupid as the other pirates, so that was fine.
What did matter was that Tom the cabin boy had been given a voice. In the books (and, I believe the original television series, Tom was always the hero and always "said nothing"). Presumably in order to signal to the hoped-for American audience that Tom was a good character, he had an Irish accent.
One other thing has to be mentioned in connection with Captain Pugwash: the myth that the stories contained all sorts of obscenities. Seaman Stains, Master Bates, Roger the Cabin Boy... You know the sort of thing.
Snopes.com confirms that these stories are nonsense, suggesting that the jokes are far older than Pugwash. ("Pugwash" isn't rude either, incidentally.) It also quotes a Guardian apology from 1991:
In the Young Guardian of September 13 we stated that the Captain Pugwash cartoon series featured characters called Seaman Staines and Master Bates, and for that reason the series had never been repeated by the BBC. We accept that it is untrue that there ever were any such characters. Furthermore, the series continues to be shown on television and on video. We apologize to Mr. Ryan, the creator, writer and artist of the Captain Pugwash films and books. We have agreed to pay him damages and his legal costs."Young" Guardian? "In the Young Guardian"? No wonder the country is in the state it is. Give our young the original Pugwash, not sniggering like this.