This year marks 45 years since Roger Hargreaves published the first of his Mr. Men series. Since then, his collection of Mr. Men and Little Miss stories have gone from strength to strength and are famed for their simple, colourful illustrations, single-trait characters, and moral lessons. With over 100 million copies sold worldwide, numerous television series spawned, and an upcoming animated film, they have grown to be among the most beloved children’s characters not only in the UK, but around the world. Here we take a look at some of the most iconic characters.
The one that started it all, Mr. Tickle was the result of a peculiar question Hargreaves’ eldest son Adam (who would later take over the family business when his father passed away) asked him in 1971: what does a tickle look like? This set the creative juices flowing, and later that year Mr. Tickle was published. The long-armed, orange miscreant delighted children with his mischievous antics as he went tickling helpless people around Misterland. A million copies were sold within three years.
This butter-coloured, pig-tailed cutey is one of the happiest people in Misterland, right up there with her good friend Mr. Happy (who we know would be good enough to forgive us for his absence on this list). Little Miss Sunshine was among the first batch of the Little Miss series; her original tale sees her thawing the icy heart of the King of Miseryland, and she hosts ‘Good Morning Dillydale’, a morning show in the 2008 TV series The Mr. Men Show.
The second in the series, the glutinous pink blob known as Mr. Greedy has undergone a bit of a makeover in later life — where once he was a no-necked, single-stomached comma shape, he has now morphed into a figure eight. After eating his way through his own food, Mr. Greedy makes an unwelcome forage into a giant’s own personal store, and is then forced to eat until the point of bursting in order to be taught a lesson. A lot darker of a concept now, thanks to Seven.
Fellow resident of Nonsenseland along with Mr. Silly and Mr. Nonsense, Little Miss Dotty eats marmalade and sugar for breakfast, lives in Whoopee Wood, and really wants to bag the Nonsenseland Cup for the dottiest idea of the year. But with a name like that, who are they trying to kid? Although, across the pond Little Miss Dotty is known as Little Miss Ditzy. Which, if you ask us, kind of ruins the whole spotty house plot.
Mr. Nosey is another character to have undergone a drastic makeover over his lifetime, much to the annoyance of earlier generations. Today Mr. Nosey is a dumpy little elephant-like guy, whereas in years gone by he resembled more of a walking nose, all the better for snooping with. His name also happens to have the greatest Danish translation: Fætter Snus.
Everybody’s favourite sloth, Mr. Lazy is more sleepy than anything else in his original story — he lives in Sleepyland and spends all four hours of the day boiling water and toasting bread. It’s a wonder he even had a story at all. In the 2008 TV series, however, he turned full on workshy layabout. He’s practically the star of his own Channel 5 documentary. The real scandal here, though, is the makeover he has undergone. Now a slouching green walking monkey peanut with an oversized pink hat, he is totally unrecognisable from the comforting pink blob first created by Roger Hargreaves.
If ever there was a Little Miss character that belonged in the 21st century, this is she. The Kim Kardashian of all our childhoods, Little Miss Splendid had a penchant for hats and not much else, and was known for strutting around, nose firmly in the air, head filled with thoughts of her own fabulousness. We’re betting she would have relished the age of the selfie.