Happy Birthday Roger Hargreaves

Little Miss Chatterbox?

It feels weird to link to Google like this (“I just discovered this great new search website! Watch out Altavista!” (wow, Altavista still exists!)) but when I opened my browser to go to my firm’s document management system, I saw the current Google Doodle and had to post this.

I used to love the Mr Men books by the late Roger Hargreaves (he would have been 76 today). I had quite a few. I didn’t have any of the Little Miss equivalents – reasonable enough for the time, I think.

My favourites by far were Mr Strong & Mr Bump. I remember Mr Strong was so strong that he picked up a barn, turned it upside down and filled it with water to put out a fire. Mr Bump kept bumping into things, like walls, cupboard doors and the like, and was clearly in an abusive relationship with Mr Strong. Oh, and Mr Bounce got mistaken for a tennis ball! Bummer.

The books came in several waves – you could tell which wave each book was in by  the complexity of the character design. The earlier designs were quite simple, but as the number of characters increased, and the number of unused basic shapes ran out, they had to add details like hats, belts, hair, and in some cases some pretty awesome brogues (although the brogues belonged to one of the first wave, which is why you should ignore this paragraph if you’re looking for facts).

It turns out that as well as the splendid BBC animated shorts, narrated by the late Arthur Lowe in his wonderful plummy voice, there was a US-produced TV series created in about 2004 by the same producers as made Rugrats. No idea if that was any good. Lowe’s final role was in the very-much-of-its-time Britannia Hospital, which also starred the brilliant and departed Graham Crowden, whose final speech was sampled and used in the Orbital track Forever. Britannia Hospital was the final part of Lindsay Anderson’s satirical trilogy, which started with if…. and continued with O Lucky Man. If was the source of some samples too – by Dreadzone I think.

If nothing else, you can rely on this blog for Holistic Nostalgia™.

I did a Mr Men homage/ripoff as part of my series of Book Covers With The Wrong Genre:


Get it? I considered having the little guy having blood spurting out of the bite mark on his head. Or I could have gone with the old stake in the eye. Either way, the hat is artist’s license – Polyphemus was more a loincloth kind of guy.