June 4, 2021
Little Miss Brave and Mr Calm announced in Matt Lucas-fronted Mr Men doc
by Tom Clayton
Calmness and courage—two qualities most of us have coveted over the last year—are to be celebrated in the form of two new characters in Roger Hargreaves’ hit Mr Men series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021.
The news was broken during last month’s broadcast of a charming Channel 4 documentary about the books and their legacy, hosted by Great British Bake Off co-host—and Mr Men superfan—Matt Lucas. The result of a global vote among fans, it was subsequently reported widely with ITV among those sharing the story.
There are currently 90 books in the wildly successful Mr Men and Little Miss series, which began in 1971 with some of its most recognisable faces: the spaghetti-armed Mr Tickle; beaming Mr Happy, and exploding blue star Mr Sneeze. The books also spawned a successful animated TV series which ran between 1974 and 1978, narrated by Dad’s Army star Arthur Lowe.
Roger Hargreaves died in 1988, with the work being continued by his son, Adam. Both men produced a steady stream of new characters, with Mr Adventure (2017) and Little Miss Valentine (2019) among the latest inductees.
Despite huge sales (estimated at over 100 million worldwide) and almost universal popularity, the series has not escaped controversy for its perceived depiction of gender stereotypes. Emily Thornberry MP was among its recent critics, suggesting the term “Little Miss” implied women are “less” than men; in 2019 the Independent reported on a viral Tweet joking that Mr. Clever might be renamed “Mr Mansplain”.
These latest arrivals are unlikely to spark such a furore. Adam Hargreaves expressed his approval of the two newbies, which will be released in September, in a quote from the ITV report:
Admittedly Mr Calm was one of my favourites so I’m delighted to be able to share this story with the public later this year… It’s amazing to see people are still connecting to the books after 50 years and here’s to Mr Calm and Little Miss Brave leading the way in shaping the brand’s personality for the next 50.
Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.