“Daddy, what does a tickle look like?”
Six-year-old Adam Hargreaves uttered these immortal words to his author dad, Roger, little knowing he’d just given birth to one of the best loved, successful and psychologically important children’s characters of all time.
Since the creation of Mr Tickle, a round, orange figure with long, bendy arms, the Mr Men and Little Miss books have brought fun and laughter to generations of families.
Currently one Mr Men and Little Miss book is sold every 2.5 seconds worldwide, with all-time sales totalling over 250 million; a third of Brits own a Mr Men or Little Miss book.
Presented by super fan, writer, actor and comedian Matt Lucas, 50 Years of Mr Men charts the history of the colourful little characters from the fictional town of Mister Land who changed global publishing forever and found their way into the hearts and bedtime stories of generations of children around the world.
We begin by learning that the Mr Tickle was rejected by all the UK’s big publishers before being published by Fabbri Books in 1971. Eventually, Mr Men-Little Miss became a family dynasty, and one of Britain’s most pioneering, successful and enduring brands globally.
Tonight’s film showcases the remarkable evolution of these characters and their role in pioneering a new world of inclusivity and openness.
It will explore iconic moments via the Hargreaves’ extraordinary family story, while we also hear from artists and collaborators, child psychologists, marketing gurus, collectors and super-fans from the worlds of fashion, music and the arts.
As well as tracing the history of the books and characters, Matt also goes behind the scenes to reveal the secret world of the astonishing artistic process: what it takes to brainstorm, draw, write and animate new Mr Men and Little Misses for today’s world.
The Little Britain star and Great British Bake Off host says: “I grew up on these books and considered the Mister Men and Little Miss characters my friends. I am delighted to be meeting them all again and look forward to finding out the story behind this much-loved, iconic series.”
Roger Hargreaves died in 1988, aged 53. However, his son, author and illustrator Adam, continued the business – writing and drawing the Mr Men Little Miss books. And to celebrate the milestone birthday in 2021, he has created five prototype new characters for a global public vote, with the two most popular announced when this programme airs, before they become the latest members of the Mr Men Little Miss universe in September.
So, whether you have an inner sense of zen and tranquility like Mr Calm, are always putting others first like Little Miss Kind, have the heart of a lion like Little Miss Brave, have a can-do attitude like Mr Brilliant, or are full of zest like little Miss Energy, there’s likely to be a part of these new personas inside everyone.
And, just like the other 90 or so loveable characters that the Hargreaves family have created over the years, kids and grown-ups won’t be able to get enough of them.
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