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Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK


Cartman top with kids

Role model? Me? South Park's Cartman takes centre stage

Eric Cartman, the animated outcast in the South Park cartoon series, has been named favourite personality in a poll of children.

Cornelia Oddie, of 'Family Youth Concern' is not a fan of Cartman
The obscenity-spouting character pipped a host of pop stars, footballers and actors to top the list compiled by the NatWest Bank.

Kenny, another star of the controversial post-watershed series, was also included in the top 10, along with fellow animated hero Bart Simpson.

Do you think Cartman is a suitable role model for children? Who would you choose? Click here to tell us

The children polled, aged between eight and nine years old, put the irreverent cartoon rascals on a par with more traditional role models such as soccer ace David Beckham and pop sensation Britney Spears.

[ image: Courteney Cox perked up by poll vote]
Courteney Cox perked up by poll vote
The cast of US sitcom Friends also fared well in the vote. Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox both managed respectable placings in the final table.

The success of Cartman and Kenny, sources of the more risqué jokes in the cult animation, came at the expense of figures in mainstream children's television.

Blue Peter presenter Katy Hill was the only figure in the top 10 personalities to represent a show specifically aimed at children.

Traditionalists may be heartened to hear that secret agent James Bond still enjoys the admiration of young people - 007 scraped in at number 10.

Despite the vote of confidence in their heroes, children will not be allowed to see the latest instalment of Cartman and Kelly's adventures. The new South Park film, opening on 27 August, has been given a 15 certificate in the UK.

[ image: Kenny lost for words at seventh place]
Kenny lost for words at seventh place
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut ran into trouble in the United States, with the censor cutting scenes to remove bad language.

"Every time they made us cut something, we added something that was 10 times worse," said a defiant Trey Parker, one of the twentysomethings behind the cult show.

A US company named the film the most profane film ever, out-swearing the previous title-holder Pulp Fiction.

Commissioning editor of Channel 4, Stewart Cosgrove is "surprised and delighted"
Media Index claimed the movie packed 399 "bad words" and 128 "crude gestures" into just 80 minutes.

The South Park film was eventually released in America with an 'R' rating - meaning cinemagoers under 17 had to be accompanied by an adult.

Fuelled by screenings on Sky and Channel 4, South Park has become a playground cult in the UK.

The headmaster of a Cambridgeshire public school even went as far as to appeal to parents to ban their children from watching the show.

[ image: What's wrong with me? Stan's not the man]
What's wrong with me? Stan's not the man
He described the series about nine-year-old Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan as "filth of the most unsavoury nature".

The NatWest poll seems to suggest that youngsters identify more strongly with their South Park counterparts than parents would perhaps like.

"The show's just a little upsetting to people who have an idyllic vision of what kids are like," reckons Matt Stone, the show's co-creator.

"Kids are not nice, innocent, flower-loving little rainbow children. Kids are all little bastards; they don't have any kind of social tact or etiquette."

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