MR MEN and Little Miss characters are being carved into more than a million maize plants in York as Europe's biggest maze prepares to reopen.

York Maze have teamed up with Mr Men and Little Miss to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the popular children’s literary and TV characters when it launches in July.

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Farmer and York Maze creator Tom Pearcy has cut out more than 5 km of pathways in his 15-acre field of more than a million maize plants.

In keeping with tradition, he aims to choose a maze design which is both topical and makes a great aerial image.

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Previous themes have marked the 40th anniversary of the first manned flight to the Moon in 2009; the 2017 design toasted the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, while in 2019 it celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of The Lion King, with a carving of a giant image of a lion, mandrill, warthog and meerkat.

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Harry Potter was a previous theme at York Maze

When the crop is fully grown by mid-July the maze of pathways between the two-metre tall plants will form an image when viewed from the air, a bit like crop circles.

Covering the size of eight football pitches, the attraction in Elvington planted the maize seeds in April ready for this season.

“We use GPS technology to plot the pathways and cut them out when the maize plants are only a few centimetres tall," said Tom who was unable to open the Maze last year due to Covid.

"It is nerve-wracking because I can’t tell if we’ve made a mistake and put a path in the wrong place until the maize plants are fully grown.”

Alastair McHarrie, licensing director at Sanrio, said: “The Mr. Men Little Miss 50th anniversary has really struck a chord with the public.

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"Parents and grandparents who grew up with the stories are now re-discovering their favourite characters alongside their children and grandchildren.

"Celebrations so far this year have included Mr. Men Little Miss 50th anniversary coins from the Royal Mint and two new characters chosen by our fans, Little Miss Brave and Mr. Calm.

"We can’t wait until July when the Mr. Men Little Miss 50th Anniversary Maze design will be revealed.”

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The 2017 design toasted the 40th anniversary of Star Wars

The Mr. Men Little Miss 50th Anniversary Maze will open for visitors to explore from July 17 to September 6 when the crop will be harvested.

Visitors will have to navigate the maze of pathways to find the Mr. Men Little Miss characters. There is a prize for those who find all of them.

As the biggest and most visited maize maze in Europe and one of the biggest in the world, it offers families a full day out with more than 20 other maze and corn-themed rides, attractions and shows.

These include Crowmania tractor trailer ride, the dinosaur-themed Jurassic maize, Volcorno climb, Popcorn pillow, Corn Snake Tower slides, maze of illusions, House of Cornfusion, Corn on the Club crazy golf, Cobstacle course, shop & café.

For 2021 to manage the number of visitors on site, all tickets must be booked online. Tickets bought in advance start at £15.

Tom's previous York Maze designs include a Viking longship, the Flying Scotsman, Big Ben, Star Trek, James Bond, Harry Potter and Yorkshiremen – Brian Blessed, Geoff Boycott & Jeremy Clarkson.

The Mr. Men and Little Miss franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary since the first book, Mr. Tickle was published in August 1971.

Mr. Men Little Miss creator Roger Hargreaves was born in the West Yorkshire Town of Clekheaton.

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Working in advertising he had a natural talent for drawing, so when his eldest son Adam (then aged eight), asked “What does a tickle look like?” Roger created his first character and Mr. Tickle was born.

The Mr. Men books sold a million copies within the first three years.

The BBC quickly saw the potential and commissioned The Mr. Men original TV series (1974-78) with Dad’s Army actor Arthur Lowe providing the narration and character voices.

Roger Hargreaves went on to create more than 60 Mr. Men and Little Miss characters before his untimely death in 1988. His son Adam took up the mantle and continued writing and drawing the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters with new stories. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, following a public vote, Little Miss Brave and Mr Calm joined the Mr. Men and Little Miss family. There are now over 90 characters.

Since Sanrio acquired the Mr. Men Little Miss brand in 2011, the iconic licensor has remained the second biggest pre-school brand in the market. Over 1.8 million books were sold in the UK in 2019 alone. Mr. Men Little Miss brand has appeared on hundreds of products, from clothing to yoghurt pots.