MEDIA: 2DTV - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. ITV's cartoon satire show, 2DTV, is a bit hit or miss but no-one is spared its attack

Back on our screens in a blaze of controversy comes 2DTV, the satirical cartoon show from ITV. Previously a ten-minute collection of animated sketches, 2DTV's third series now has an extended Wednesday night slot.

Likened to Spitting Image for the 21st century, 2DTV takes an irreverent look at the week's news and sends up the principle protagonists from Michael Jackson (with child, just) to Posh and Becks, George Bush and that orange bloke off Bargain Hunt. No-one is safe, from C-listers to world leaders, unless none of the four impressionists can "do" them, of course.

Naturally, the strength of the programme depends on the writing, the animation and the impressions, all of which can be a bit hit or miss.

When the voices are spot-on and the writing is sharp, this can make for entertaining satire. Bush's grammatical "misusifications" are a nice touch and the spoof Barclays ad in last week's programme was great. The sketches involving Ant and Dec, however, were diabolical.

With Radio 4's Dead Ringers recently making the move to BBC2, Jon Culshaw, the principle vocal talent for both programmes, must be raking it in.

An animated satire can obviously push the visual gags a lot further than programmes using live actors and there is little risk of detracting from the impression because the actor bears no resemblance to the person they are taking off. For this reason, 2DTV can at times be much stronger than both Dead Ringers and Alistair McGowan (whose nose manages to get in the way of most of his characters' authenticity).

And the controversy? Last week, the BACC banned an ad for 2DTV's Christmas video, offering the producers an early Christmas present in the form of an avalanche of free PR. The ruling came on the same day the new series was to be broadcast. Funny that. In one of the 2DTV ads, a cartoon president Bush was shown opening a copy of the video and saying: "My favourite - just pop it in the video player." But he places it in a toaster instead and burns the tape. Oops, I just told you the gag. As did every paper and news report, most showing the image too.

Rather like last year's Brass Eye furore, it seems censorship will only serve to increase the number of viewers eager to see what all the fuss is about, turning 2DTV into a self-referential satire.

Uisdean Maclean, the BACC's director, defended the decision. "People are entitled not to be exploited for someone else's commercial gain," he said. I take it ITV will not be selling any spots in 2DTV's centre-break, then.


Frequency: 10.30-10.55pm every Wednesday

Audience: 3.2 million average (20.8 per cent share)

Advertisers include: Famous Grouse, Smirnoff Black Ice, Tennents,

Grolsch, De Longhi coffee-maker

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