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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 14:32 GMT
Advert 'offends' Geordies
Nicholas Lyndhurst
Nicholas Lyndhurst stars in the adverts
A television advertisement featuring a fat Newcastle upon Tyne family has been criticised as offensive to Geordies.

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) is to examine whether the item breaches its code on advertising standards.

The WH Smith Christmas commercial, starring Only Fools and Horses actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, features an overweight family eating messily in front of the television.

The ITC has received complaints about its portrayal of people from the North East and of obesity.

A spokeswoman for the ITC said: "We have had 32 complaints, which is not a particularly high number for an advertisement.

Decision expected

"A third of the complaints are about the portrayal of obesity while the other two-thirds is to do with regional stereo-typing."

WH Smith has apologised, insisting it never intended to cause offence.

The ITC's code states: "No advertisement may offend against good taste or decency or be offensive to public feeling, and no advertisement should prejudice respect for human dignity."

The ITC spokeswoman said it should be able to make a decision on whether the advertisement has breached the code within two to three weeks.

Company explanation

A statement issued by WH Smith said: "WH Smith has used Nicholas Lyndhurst to portray the Smith Family in its various guises at Christmas time over the last six years.

"This year the campaign was intended to convey a lighthearted approach to entertaining relatives at Christmas as many people across the country do.

"It was not intended to cause offence in any way to anyone.

"We apologise profusely for any offence caused and can assure you that all comments will be noted and collated with our extensive customer research that we commission on all advertising."

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