LONDON (Reuters) - Zut alors! The popular British cartoon and television series “Mr. Men” has come up with a malodorous Mr. Rude who speaks with a bad French accent.
“Pardon me,” says Mr. Rude in comedy Franglais as he breaks wind when his finger is pulled on a game played on the television show’s website www.mrmen.com.
“Ohhh, don’t seem so surpriiised,” Mr Rude exclaims when loud noises and a noxious-looking gas erupt from his behind. “I’ll geeve you rude,” he tells children as he blows a raspberry in a promotion for the new series which will run on British television on February 25.
The French embassy in London declined to comment to Reuters on whether the coarse Mr. Men character, the only one on the show with a foreign accent, would offend.
But a source at the embassy told Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that this kind of humor won’t go any distance toward easing a centuries-old rivalry between the two nations.
“It is obviously meant in a light-hearted way, but it won’t improve Anglo-French relations,” the source said.
A spokeswoman for Channel Five, which is airing the show, said the Mr. Rude character was just a bit of fun that is not meant to offend France or the more than 300,000 French citizens who live and work in Britain.
“Mr. Men is a comedy show for four to seven year olds. The fact that Mr. Rude has a French accent is meant to be light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek and no offence is intended,” she said.
The much-loved Mr. Men, who include such characters as Mr. Messy, Mr. Strong and Mr. Tickle, were created by Roger Hargreaves in the early 1970s. They appeared first in a series of books and in 1975 on television.
The Mr. Men brand has expanded over the decades, adding Little Miss female cartoons in 1981.
New characters appearing in the updated show include Mr. Scatterbrain, Mr. Stubborn, Little Miss Daredevil and Little Miss Calamity.
Chorion, which makes the show, said it is looking to sell the series to France, among other countries.
But the company could not say whether the French version of Mr. Rude would have a British accent or not.
Editing by Paul Casciato