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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Mr Tickle laughs all the way to the bank
Noddy meets Mr Happy
Along with Agatha Christie, it's just one big Mr Happy family for Noddy
The popular children's characters Mr Men and Little Miss have been bought by media group Chorion for 28m. BBC News Online looks at the humble roots of the children's book fortune.

If Kermit the Frog can happily cohabitate with Mickey Mouse over at the Walt Disney Corp., it makes sense that Noddy will welcome Mr Happy, Mr Cheerful and Mr Funny to their new homes.

But there is no word on the reception Messrs Grumpy, Clumsy, Nosey or Greedy can expect when the 43 Mr Men characters - and their 30 Little Miss compatriots - join entertainment group Chorion.

The company, which also owns Noddy, Big Ears, and the Famous Five, as well as the literary works of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton, bought Mr Men for 28m. Disney acquired the Muppets in February.

The Mr Men story all began with a tickle.

The first chapter was written in 1971, when seven-year-old Adam Hargreaves asked his father, Roger, what a tickle looks like.

The answer was obvious to Mr Hargreaves, who drew a short, round, orange fellow, with extraordinarily long arms - extended tickling range - a charming grin and a small blue hat.

Mr Tickle was born -- and he was soon followed by Mr Happy, Mr Bump, Mr Greedy and Mr Nosey. There are now 43 of them, as well as Little Misses, and they are remembered by many as loveable characters from childhood. Ask anyone which of the characters is their favourite, and watch a debate begin.

Worldwide appeal

The books, which originally cost 15p and are estimated to have sold 100m copies, have been translated into more than 15 different languages and made into a TV series, which lasted 175 episodes. Many of those programs are available now on DVD.

Mr Hargreaves died after a stroke in 1988 at the age of 53. His son Adam now draws the Mr Men - and introduced six new characters in 2003.

Mr Men books
Slightly more than 15p a pop
He took over the business along with his sister, Amelia Beddoe, and his mother, Christine, and will remain involved with the characters as they move to Chorion, as a creative director.

He said: "Our family is immensely proud that the Mr Men have stood the test of time. My father would have been thrilled to see children still enjoying the characters more than 30 years on."

The most popular of the Mr Men books is Mr Happy; Mr Hargreaves' favourite was reportedly Mr Silly.

His characters covered nearly every human characteristic, good and bad. There was loud Mr Noisy to the retiring Mr Quiet; Mr Slow and Mr Rush; Mr Greedy and Mr Skinny.

The Little Miss books were created in 1980 after requests from Mr Hargreaves' twin daughters, Amelia and Sophie. The first Little Miss was Little Miss Bossy.

Mr Hargreaves' ability to capture basic human characteristics was seen by many as the key to his success.


SEE ALSO:
Mr Men joins Noddy and Big Ears
30 Apr 04  |  Business
Mr Men set for comeback
21 Jan 03  |  Entertainment
Mr Sneeze in drug row
12 Aug 03  |  Health
Mr Men celebrate 30 years
29 Oct 01  |  England


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