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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 May, 2003, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Big Brother defends 300ft chalk logo
Photograph by Michelle Sadgrove: Big Brother logo next to Uffington White Horse
The logo appears next to the Bronze-Age horse

Channel 4 has hit back at claims that a logo promoting reality TV show Big Brother, painted near a chalk horse on a hillside, has angered local residents.

The "eye" logo, about 300ft wide, was painted on to the site near Uffington, Oxfordshire, on Thursday so it could be filmed as part of the TV show's idents.

The Observer said local residents "warned the incident could trigger a local uprising", and said archaeologists wanted an inquiry into how the National Trust (NT) gave permission for the logo to be added.

A Channel 4 spokesman confirmed to BBC News Online that the chalk "eye" would be hosed off by Monday morning, and said locals who gathered at the site were "fine" about the addition to the hillside.

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"At first they thought we were May Day protesters," he said, having been present as the logo was being painted on Thursday morning.

"But once they were over the initial shock they weren't really too upset."

He described it as an "environmentally friendly stunt" and said the NT had been paid 2,000 to allow the logo to appear.

The chalk "eye" would "not damage the grass", he added.

The NT was reported as saying: "We thought long and hard about whether this was something we would want and decided it was an innovative way to raise funds for what we do."

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The Observer said experts now feared that the NT's decision could "spark a series of similar campaigns" that use the UK's cultural landmarks in ad campaigns.

It reported that Sharon Smith, curator of the Tom Brown's School Museum in Uffington, said a national monument was being used to "promote a tacky game show".

And Alan Hardy, senior project manager for Oxford Archaeology, told the paper that "people should not think the site was a free advertising hoarding".

The horse is thought to originate from the Bronze Age, and was created by people digging trenches and filling them with chalk.

Big Brother is returning for its fourth series at the end of May.

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