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Cheeky Weekly ™ REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, COPYRIGHT ©  REBELLION PUBLISHING LTD, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED was a British children's comic with cover dates spanning 22 October 1977 to 02 February 1980.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Profile - Ursula

Hulking cinema employee Ursula (alliteratively known as Ursula the Usherette until December 1978) was the antithesis of Cheeky Weekly's glamour-puss, Lily Pop.  Absent from only 3 issues of Cheeky Weekly, Ursula was the character to feature most regularly in the comic after Cheeky and Snail, who both appeared in all 117 issues.  She was also the only Cheeky's Week character to undergo a change in circumstances during the comic's run.

Our initial encounter with Ursula came on the cinema interval page in the first issue of Cheeky Weekly.  As Cheeky approached Ursula the usherette to select some items from her tray of ices and snacks, he made some disparaging remarks about her.  The aggrieved ice cream seller smouldered with rage but remained silent throughout the transaction.  This was to be the way that Cheeky's interactions with Ursula played out until the 04 March 1978 issue, in which Ursula found her voice and verbally laid into the toothy funster.

Art - Frank McDiarmid
In the early strips, additional fun was to be had with the incongruous ingredients in the items on her tray, such as kipper-and-custard flavour lollies.

Like Herman the traffic warden, Ursula regularly sported the iron cross.  She also displayed swastika tattoos in the issues dated 29 October 1977 and 20 January 1979, and a swastika badge on her cap in the 09 September 1978 comic.

Ursula appeared twice in the issue dated 31 December 1977 - once in her usual Interval location, and again on page 32 as Cheeky, awaiting the first guest to cross the threshold for his new year party, fearfully conjured up a thought-balloon depicting Ursula turning up bearing mistletoe.

The striking cinema snack-seller made her first front page appearance on the cover of Cheeky Weekly dated 14 January 1978.  This was the first occasion on which Ursula was heard to make an utterance, even if it was only "Snarl!"

Art - Frank McDiarmid
On a number of occasions Libby, defender of poor, weak girls, leapt to Ursula's aid in the face of the toothy funster's verbal assaults, only to slink off after realising that Ursula was hardly defenceless.  In fact on one occasion, Libby was propelled from the cinema by an enraged Ursula's boot.  Yikky-Boo suffered a similar ejection a few weeks later.

Ursula was back on the cover again on 11 February 1978, this time as a member of the Joke-Box Jury panel.

The lumbering lolly lady made it onto the cover for the last time on 04 March 1978.  This was the issue mentioned above in which Ursula finally snapped as a result of Cheeky's verbal onslaught, and she spoke for the first time.  We always knew Cheeky could dish it out, but could he take it?  Rather satisfyingly, we witnessed the toothy funster reeling from an ear-bashing.  In the following week's comic, Cheeky apologised to Ursula (sort of), saying "Well, Ursula, I'm sorry for all the nasty things I've said about you in the past, even if half of them were true!"  Ursula gave Cheeky a conciliatory, if bone-crushing, handshake in response.  However, the toothy funster resumed his disparaging remarks in the next issue, but Ursula retained the power of speech so was able to reply.

Art - Mike Lacey
Ursula's first appearance outside of the front cover or her usual interval location was on Friday in the 28 October 1978 issue, when the usherette's face loomed alarmingly from Crystal Belle's mystic orb, presaging her cinema encounter with the toothy funster later in the issue.

In the 25 November 1978 comic, Burpo launched a custard pie at Ursula and blamed Cheeky.  On the back cover was a maze through which the toothy funster had to negotiate a route home without meeting any of the Ursulas lurking at junctions.

Art - Frank McDiarmid
The final interval feature to appear in Cheeky Weekly was in the comic dated 02 December 1978.  After this issue, no more Saturday morning picture shows were depicted in the comic, instead we got to see what Cheeky did on Saturday afternoons.  However, the Cheeky's Week writer obviously felt that Ursula had potential outside of the cinema, and she continued to appear.  Her first post-interval appearance came in the issue dated 09 December 1978, when she told Cheeky that she had got a new job as a security guard.  Did that mean that the cinema had closed?  Well, Cheeky visited the cinema in 19 August 1978's 60-years-into-the-future issue, and the Commissionaire's grandson says "My grandad used to get trampled on every week when he let this lot in", so it seems that if the cinema did close, it must have reopened at a later date.

Art - Barrie Appleby
The frightening-faced female's next appearance was on Saturday in the 06 January 1979 issue, when she told Cheeky that she nearly got a new job

Ursula was a guest at Cheeky's new year party in the 13 January 1979 issue.  This was the first time that we saw her in civvies, but she didn't look much better out of uniform, to be honest.

In the 20 January 1979 issue, Ursula told Cheeky that she'd been sacked from her latest job.  This set the trend for her subsequent appearances, as she would either tell Cheeky the outlandish reason why she lost her latest job, or the unlikely tasks (usually feats of strength) she was expected to perform in her new job.

Art - Bob Hill
Ursula was a guest at Cheeky's new year party in the 05 January 1980 issue.

For such a long-serving member of the Cheeky's Week cast, it seems an injustice that Ursula didn't make it into the final issue of Cheeky Weekly - her last appearance was in the penultimate issue dated 26 January 1980.  Nor did the gigantic job-seeker ever appear throughout Cheeky's Week, although she did appear on 2 pages in 17 issues.

Ursula appeared in 3 Burpo Specials.  She was the subject of Burpo's interview in the 21 April 1979 comic, but guested in the Burpo Specials dated 17 March 1979 and 09 June 1979.  She was featured on the Pin-Up Pal poster in the 29 April 1978 comic.

Art - Frank McDiarmid
Ursula was created for Cheeky Weekly, but she did appear in Krazy dated 14 January 1978, in the Cheeky's Pal strip (which was introduced by Burpo as a Burpo Special), and also in the 'Ello, It's Cheeky strip in the final issue of Krazy dated 15 April 1978.


Character Total Issues First Appearance Final Appearance
Ursula11422-Oct-197726-Jan-1980


Missing From Issues
25-Aug-1979
03-Nov-1979
02-Feb-1980


Ursula - Number of appearances by Element
Element Number of Appearances
Interval59
Saturday16
Monday11
Tuesday10
Thursday9
Sunday8
Friday5
Wednesday5
Cover Feature3
The Burpo Special3
Easter Saturday1
New Year's Eve1


Ursula - Number of appearances by Page
Page Number of Appearances
2831
2714
2913
308
318
27
226
65
54
94
124
234
264
324
13
103
72
182
31
81
111
151
251


Count of elements by artist
Character Artist Total Elements
UrsulaFrank McDiarmid63
UrsulaFrank McDiarmid pencils25
UrsulaMike Lacey22
UrsulaJim Watson6
UrsulaBarrie Appleby6
UrsulaUnknown Cheeky Artist 15
UrsulaDick Millington4
UrsulaBob Hill1

7 comments:

  1. What a great character...
    Cheeky had loads of them..

    She is different to Plug from Bash Street...Plug thinks he is handsome..

    Ursula wonder what she is doing now..? :)

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  2. The last I heard, she'll be working at the London Olympics. She'll be emptying the swimming pool every night by jumping in off the high diving board.

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  3. I suppose it's vaguely possible in an oblique way that Ursula was inspired by a certain James Bond star from the 1960s; I know who I prefer, and she's not dishing out choc ices in cinemas!

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  4. Ursula was one of my faves - remember when she was supposed to give 'a ladylike sniff' and it came out as 'SNURFLE' :d

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the way Frank McDiarmid's drawings of Ursula got increasingly grotesque as time went on.

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    2. PS thanks for following the blog!

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