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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Anger over cancer ad censorship
Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais' ad tries to use humour to raise awareness
Campaigners are criticising a radio watchdog's decision to allow a prostate cancer ad starring comedy star Ricky Gervais to be aired only after 9pm.

The Prostate Cancer Charity ad features a doctor inserting a finger inside a man's rectum to check for cancer.

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, which governs commercial radio, has also ordered the removal of a "squish" noise from the advert.

The charity said the ruling was a disgrace and draconian.

Many categories of radio ads, including those by charities, have to be cleared by the watchdog before they can be aired.

The radio authority has actually enhanced this as a taboo
Ricky Gervais

The recommendations on time - the ruling said the advert could only be aired from 9pm to 6am - are only a guide, but refusal to follow them can put stations at risk if they are reported to the Advertising Standards Authority.

John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "We do not believe this advert is offensive.

"If men's health promotion is for night time only and not in front of the children, then we are putting it in the same league as adult entertainment and top shelf literature.

"This decision is a disgrace."


Mr Neate said the charity had tried to use humour to raise awareness about the condition which kills 10,000 men a year.

Ricky Gervais said: "It's pathetic. One of the reasons that people die of cancer is that they don't get themselves checked.

"One of the reasons they don't get checked is embarrassment over the issue.

"The radio authority has actually enhanced this as a taboo."

And Peter Baker, director of the Men's Health Forum, added the "preposterous decision" demonstrated the obstacles campaigners were up against in trying to get men to take their health seriously.

But the watchdog said the "squish" noise had to be taken out as it was too graphic.

Will Stubbs, an advertising clearance executive at the watchdog, said: "We give charity and government campaigns which tackle sensitive subjects more leeway then we do commercial adverts.

"But if they are of an adult nature we sometimes have to schedule it away from when families are listening."

And he added commercial radio was "quite conservative" in many respects.

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