AS a lifelong fan of the Mr Men, Matt Lucas thought he knew all there was to know about the celebrated children’s books.
But while making a documentary for Channel 4, marking the 50th anniversary of their creation, he got a bit of a shock.
It turned out the wholesome characters came close to being used for a rather racy purpose.
Matt says: “I asked them whether they’d had to say no to any ideas for merchandise, and they told me somebody wanted to make Mr Men CONDOMS.
“They felt that even though condoms were a socially responsible thing, they didn’t feel it was an approp-riate match. Yeah, I think they made the right call on that one.
“But the merchandising is still something that is very big for these characters, they’ve had their own Happy Meals.”
The Mr Men and Little Miss books are not just a cultural phenomenon, they are a major money-spinner, as the Little Britain and Great British Bake Off star discovered.
They are a hit formula first dreamt up when illustrator Roger Hargreaves’ son asked him what a tickle looked like.
The result was the very first Mr Men book, Mr Tickle. Although the same mix of characters still appeal to today’s young children, Matt feels there is room for tinkering to keep the characters in line with 21st-Century thinking.
He says: “What would I do if I had to do a Mr? I might do an ecological one, that might be good — a character that is interested in the environment.
“That might be a nice theme to introduce to young people.”
Matt has another idea, too. He says: “Do you know what I’d do? I’d create a character that was neither a Mr nor a Miss. I think that might be something interesting to explore. It’s not really about gender with the characters, it is more about characteristics.”
A very worthy idea, Matt. Now get drawing.
- 50 Years Of Mr Men With Matt Lucas, 6pm, Channel 4 on May 16.
READ ON FOR MORE OF ROD McPHEE'S BIZARRE TV COLUMN
Rylan of Duty
EUROVISION presenters Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills dish out AC-12 points in this Line Of Duty spoof.
The duo grill 2021’s UK entry James Newman as heads of the BBC’s ESC-21 in the skit, which will be screened during the first semi-final from Rotterdam.
Rylan and Scott are joined by singer-songwriter Chelcee Grimes for the BBC Four broadcast on May 18.
Holl lot of drama for Anna
LINE Of Duty star Anna Maxwell Martin is at the centre of another mystery in new drama Hollington Drive.
After infuriating the nation as misery Det Chief Supt Patricia Carmichael in the hunt for “H”, she joins Rachael Stirling in the ITV series.
They play sisters Theresa and Helen, who fear the worst when their children disappear during a family barbecue.
When they are finally found on the edge of a woodland, Theresa’s son Ben and Helen’s daughter Eva are fighting and it is clear that something untoward has happened.
The four-parter, which has started shooting in Wales, comes from former Midsomer Murders and Lewis producer Jonathan Fisher.
It is written by Sophie Petzal, who worked on Irish TV thriller Blood, which also starred Anna’s Line Of Duty colleague Adrian Dunbar.
Jonathan said: “We can’t wait to share this captivating and surprising story.”
JIM Broadbent and Tim McInnerny are among the stars lined up for the remake of cult French hit Call My Agent. Pirates Of The Caribbean actor Jack Davenport and Rebecca Humphries, ex-girlfriend of Strictly love rat Seann Walsh, will also be in the show, which details life at the offices of a talent agency.
Louise is back in fashion
LOUISE Redknapp will have a spring in her step when she joins the presenting team on ITV’s Lorraine this morning.
The singer and ex-Strictly star showcases this season’s best looks as she fronts the show’s fashion segment.
Louise said: “I can’t wait to be back on Lorraine, hosting the fashion item standing in for the lovely Mark Heyes.
“I think fashion can play a really positive role in our lives and that positivity has never been needed more than now.
“Whether you’re searching for the perfect working-from-home outfit, an ensemble to shake off those mummy vibes or the perfect combo for outdoor get-togethers, I encourage all women to throw away the rulebook and embrace who they truly are.”
After nearly coming down with hypothermia on my first post-lockdown outings, I’ll be sticking to a puffer jacket for now.
NETFLIX has dropped a new trailer for series four of Stranger Things. The short clip features the science fiction show’s original villain Dr Martin Brenner, who is played by Matthew Modine, teasing that he has “something very special planned” for Eleven, played in the series by Millie Bobby Brown.
Kelli on make in break
EMMERDALE’S Kelli Hollis has revealed she got pregnant after hooking up with her partner backstage on the ITV soap during a break from filming.
The actress, who played Ali Spencer in the show from 2011 to 2015, told all on an episode of the Soap From The Box podcast, which is available this Sunday.
She said: “I actually conceived my son while I was filming at Emmerdale. Not on set but in my Winnebago.
“I’m sure there are a lot of worse places to be conceived – and at least we got a bit of kudos.
“Everybody used to joke that if we had a girl we should call her Emma and if it was a boy we should call him Dale.”
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