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