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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 February, 2004, 17:15 GMT
Sex comedy film grant criticised
Johnny Vegas in Sex Lives of the Potato Men
The film cost an estimated 2m to make
Film bosses have been criticised for handing nearly 1m of lottery cash to a controversial comedy.

One critic has described The Sex Lives of the Potato Men as "toothless, worthless, mirthless and useless".

The film, which stars comedian Johnny Vegas, was made by a West Midlands-based production company with the help of a 900,000 award.

But the UK Film Council - which agreed the cash - defended the movie as "not critic-led".

'Grubby film'

Sex Lives of the Potato Men, which was made by Devotion Films, follows the sexual antics of four young men who work delivering potatoes.

It is set in Birmingham and also features MacKenzie Crook and Lucy Davies, famous for their roles as Gareth and Dawn in the BBC comedy series The Office.

The film may still work despite the fact it hasn't been well-received by critics
UK Film Council spokesman
But the movie has failed to win over the critics, and has been described in The Times as "one of the two most nauseous films ever made".

Will Self wrote in London's Evening Standard that the film was "toothless, worthless, mirthless and useless".

Several MPs have also slated Sex Lives, including Adrian Flook, who sits on the select committee for culture, media and sport.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'm pretty outraged that we should be spending nearly a 1m of lottery players' money on such a grubby film."

Julie Kirkbride, MP for Bromsgrove and shadow secretary for culture, media and sport, said: "You can produce any old rubbish with your own money.

"When it is public money, spending should be guided by the need to maintain public support for the lottery."

Lottery cash 'for everyone'

Actor Laurence Mann, who stars in the movie, said it should appeal to people in Birmingham: "This film is for true Brummies... born within the sound of somebody else moaning."

A spokesman for the Film Council told the Daily Mail: "Public money is for everyone and that includes people who want to get drunk and see a filthy movie as much as those who want to watch a Japanese movie.

"This film is for a very specific demographic; a young male audience which may not be critic-led.

"The film may still work, despite the fact it hasn't been well-received by critics."

The UK Film Council was set up on 1 April 2000 and distributes almost all public money for the UK film industry, including lottery cash.

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