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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 15:14 GMT
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Marge Simpson (main picture), with Ray Davies, Esther Rantzen, Claudia Schiffer and Steve Harmison.


And the award for best Mum goes to... Marge Simpson. Her emergence as the clear winner of a poll by the Mothers' Union confirms that in a post-feminist age, an image of motherhood that seemed to be consigned to the past is still cherished.

With her spire of blue hair she is more than eight feet tall, but millions of Simpsons fans acknowledge Marge as the embodiment of everything dear to them in a family unit.

Yummy and nutritious!
Oh Homer, I'm so proud of you
Many people in the survey of mothers in public life named their own mum as their top role model. But it's a fair bet that many of those women are just like Marge. Perhaps not in appearance, but in their many qualities.

Homer Simpson may have been the runaway winner of a BBC online poll to find the greatest American - beating Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jnr and Bob Dylan. But today, if a woman is not in front of a great man, she's probably keeping his life together.

In the words of Marge's official biography, courtesy of the Simpsons' proprietors, Fox, she is "a happy homemaker" whose pride and joys are Bart - her "special little guy" - Lisa and baby Maggie.

Tower of power

She's also very proud of Homer, even though he frequently needs her to find his keys - and, as in millions of homes, add shirts, watch, nail clippers and a dozen other items that can be traced only by the sophisticated homing device known as a female.

Mind you, Marge has added advantages. While magicians are happy to pull a rabbit out of a hat, Marge has been known to produce all manner of objects from her big blue "tower of power".

The Simpsons
Marge holds the clan together
They include a swarm of bats, the cat and a telephone number to call if Grampa falls in the bathtub.

Then, of course, while mortal women turn to rejuvenating creams to maintain a youthful complexion, Marge doesn't need to bother. She remains a perpetual 34.

But while one of her chief roles is to soothe Homer's troubled brow, she has caused him the odd moment of anxiety.

It was while she was in detention at high school for burning her bra that she met Homer and later, as his wife, she had a dalliance with a smooth-talking 10-pin bowling instructor.

Surgeon's boob

Once, donning the uniform of a Springfield police officer, Marge arrested Homer and on another occasion, instead of upholding the law, was nearly seduced into breaking it.

Last year, she was mistakenly given a boob job after asking for nip-and-tuck surgery to make Homer fancy her again.

Men's mag Maxim is very animated about Marge's potential to excite, depicting her on its front cover in a clinging wet low-cut dress as she scrubs the floor.

Sometimes, she gets it wrong - well, every episode, really, when she places Maggie on the supermarket conveyor belt.

As The Simpsons' executive producer, David Mirkin, once said: "Marge is a very imperfect mother, but she's also infinitely patient and hopeful."

Marge is that selfless genius that makes mothers unique creatures. Maybe she is obsessed by cleaning and baking, but she retains a strong sense of identity.

She is the balm that eases the family's troubles, big and small, the rock that is its cornerstone, the glue that holds the Simpsons together - just. She knows it, and so does Homer.

Ray Davies, godfather of Britpop

It was a Sunny Afternoon at the Palace when the Kinks' Ray Davies collected his CBE from the Queen. Using a walking stick after being shot in the leg by a mugger in New Orleans, Davies vowed to be back on stage as soon as possible. After major hits with the Kinks including the classic Waterloo Sunset, he proved a major influence on later bands, including The Jam and Blur.

Esther Rantzen, getting flirty again

Esther Rantzen revealed she was going to use television to try to find a man. The former That's Life presenter, whose husband Desmond Wilcox died in 2000, asked to appear on the BBC Two series, Would Like to Meet, during a chance meeting with the network's controller. She'll go on fake dates and be given advice on flirting and what to wear before tackling the real thing.

Claudia Schiffer, stalked supermodel

Supermodel Claudia Schiffer learned that a man accused of stalking her at her Suffolk mansion has been deported. The 21-year-old Canadian was handed over to immigration officers after it emerged he was in Britain illegally. Schiffer had previously been stalked by an Italian kitchen porter who said the Pope had told him to marry her. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Steve Harmison, wonder bowler

On a never to be forgotten day for long-suffering England cricket fans, Geordie Steve Harmison destroyed the West Indies. They were all out for a feeble 47, after his seven for 12. Once he had a run-up as diffident as his personality. But with the help of England coach Duncan Fletcher and bowling tutor Troy Cooley, and training stints at Newcastle United, there's a new purpose in Harmison's stride.


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