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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Actress joins call for Perrier boycott
Emma Thompson with Greg Wise
Thompson won a Perrier award in 1981
Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson has added her name to the performers calling for a boycott of the Perrier Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The action began when stand-up comedian Rob Newman told The Independent newspaper that the awards should be boycotted because sponsors Perrier are linked with food firm Nestlé.

Emma Thompson
Thompson won a best actress Oscar for Howard's End
Thompson, who won the award in its inaugural year with the Cambridge Footlights, added her voice to the campaign on Tuesday.

"The Perrier Awards should be boycotted by all right-thinking people because Nestlé has got to be stopped," Thompson said through her agent on Tuesday.

A number of celebrities have publicly asked comedians not to enter the competition because of Nestlé's sales of powdered baby milk in the Third World.

Campaigners believe that breast-feeding should be encouraged in developing countries as bottle-fed babies are more likely to die of water borne infections.

Allegations

Nestlé has rejected the criticisms, saying it promotes infant foods in line with World Health Organisation codes of conduct.

"Many of the allegations made about our behaviour are years out of date and have long since been rectified," the company said in a statement issued in London.

A number of other celebrities including Julie Walters, Richard E Grant and pop bands Pulp and Ocean Colour Scene are backing the lobbying group Baby Milk Action.

Rich Hall
Rich Hall saw off competition from 140 other acts in 2000
The group wants to increase pressure on the food firm by persuading as many top comedians as possible not to enter the Perrier competition.

American comedian Rich Hall scooped the coveted Perrier Comedy award in 2000.

The prize, which is in its 20th year, is awarded to the most original and funny cabaret, revue or comedy act at the fringe.

Other Perrier winners, including Steve Coogan, Frank Skinner, Lee Evans, Sean Hughes, and The League of Gentlemen, have gone on to win wider recognition.

The awards have been running since 1981 when the Cambridge Footlights, which included Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson, won the inaugural contest.

To be eligible for the awards, acts must be original and fall into the cabaret, comedy, revue or stand-up category.

See also:

27 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Hall toasts Perrier prize
30 Aug 99 | Edinburgh Festival 99
Pub landlord draws Perrier prize
31 Aug 98 | Edinburgh Festival
Tommy takes the Perrier
02 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Mad about the boys
26 Aug 99 | Edinburgh Festival 99
The winner takes it all
24 Aug 98 | Edinburgh Festival
Talents who sparkled in comedy's Hall of Fame
24 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Comedian calls for prize boycott
06 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Baby.com for actress Emma
30 May 01 | Showbiz
Thompson heads for Africa
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