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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 January, 2004, 17:48 GMT
Review: Blair's Simpsons role is great PR
By Robin Brant
BBC Radio 1 political reporter

Prime Minister Tony Blair made a guest appearance in The Simpsons, on UK channel Sky One on Friday night.

Tony Blair meets Homer Simpson

He has faced Jeremy Paxman, Trevor McDonald, and Radio 1 listeners.

Now the PM has faced the toughest of them all - millions of devout American cult cartoon fans.

Tony Blair gets just over 50 seconds in the Simpsons episode that will be shown in the UK in January.

In blue suit and tie, two-inch Tony meets Bart and family at Heathrow.

Send us your views on the episode

"Hello, welcome to the United Kingdom," is the first thing you hear him say.

He recorded the script in secret at Downing Street back in April, just weeks after the war started.

Playing chief salesman for the country he goes on to tell Homer to take the kids to Stratford upon Avon and Parliament.

"You Americans love castles," he says to Homer, "there's a huge one in Edinburgh, the city where I was born."

It may not be Oscar-winning but it is a PR masterstroke.

This is a 50-year-old politician doing his best to appear far from the usual stiff, boring image most have of politicians.

Famous Brits

Other famous Brits pop up during the disastrous tour that takes in Harrods and the London Eye - JK Rowling and Sir Ian McKellen play themselves, but when the Queen appears after Homer rams his Mini hire car into a royal carriage she is played by an actor.

Even though Downing Street got script approval there are rumours one line caused problems; Homer takes evasive action to get out of a roundabout the family are stuck on saying: "I'm acting the way America acts best, unilaterally."

Although Number 10 denies any interference, that dig at George Bush's disdain for diplomacy may have been the reason this was not shown until after the US President's UK trip was over.

At the end of the episode Homer is seen trying to escape from the Tower of London after a nasty face-off at the palace, but the Queen lets him off.

Tony Blair has got more work to do, though.

He runs off to greet another family at Heathrow with a "cheerio" as Homer delivers a blow to the Blair ego.

"Wow, I can't believe we met Mr Bean," he says.


Back to top

The episode was broadcast in the US last year and some views of the American audience are below.

But UK viewers can now send in their views on the show on the postform at the bottom of the page.

I thought It was quite funny, Mr.Blair wasnt quite what I expected. All in all, 8/10
Ashleigh, Hull, Uk

Despite Tony Blair's words about the UK being cool and modern (the scriptwriters obviously left the lines in to show how hopelessly modern us 'quaint' Brits think we are) the episode goes on to depict a horribly outadated stereotypicial and distictly 'Mary Poppins' London complete with toffs in bowler hats, lords, beefeaters and Queen's guards.

There was a Trainspotting-style hallucination scene (erm, that was Edinburgh, nowhere near England last time I checked and I thought Trainspotting was supposed to be Scottish, not English) and a terrible Carnaby Street/cool clothes reference (which was only about 40 years too late).

If this is the way the Americans view the British (sorry, the English - let's not forget that the two are NOT the same thing) this episode hasn't done much to kill the stereotype, and it ended up portraying Tony Blair as a crackpot, desperate to be taken seriously.

Worst episode ever, as Comic Book Guy would say.
Ed, UK

I think it was hilarious, but it showed that we were very historical people, which we are not, and it showed that the English community sound posh, which is an ideal view of Britain, but that's not what it is really like. I have never liked my country as its getting too old, and the government spends wrongly.
Ben C, Bucks

To those people who think that this is "inappropriate", I would advise them to get a sense of humour. Well done Tony Blair, for having the humility to do such a thing!
James Robson, Watten, Scotland

I thought Mr bean was great.
Jim, Reading, UK

Has Tony Blair got nothing better to do than do voice overs for The Simpsons? Any chance of fame and Tony's there - whether the country is at war or not.
Parfitt, UK

Tony Blair held up quite well. He did not take himself too seriously yet managed to retain some dignity. His encounter with the Simpsons takes place shortly after their arrival in London. The PM would certainly have a more accurate view of public opinion in the United States if he spent more time chatting with Homer Simpson and less time listening to George W. Bush.
Tim Zarazan, Oak Park, IL USA

It was very amusing to see Mr. Blair greeting our animated "low lives" on their arrival at London. Mr. Blair would make a great tourism representative: a cross between your friendly Wal-Mart greeter (sans dentures) and a jet-pack suited James Bond.
Joan, USA

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SEE ALSO:
Blair in The Simpsons: Your views
24 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Blair lined up for Simpsons debut
20 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Emmy for Simpsons star
19 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Homer eyes 'best American' prize
13 Jun 03  |  Americas
Homer tops TV favourites poll
12 Jun 03  |  Entertainment
The Simpsons: The world's favourite family
15 Feb 03  |  Entertainment


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