HM Government comedy warning

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT adopted a new approach to environmental issues yesterday when it stopped lecturing people about saving the planet and turned to humour.

Ministers unveiled a series of irreverent television ad-vertisements intended to encourage individuals to be environmentally responsible. One features a woman switching off unnecessary lights - over a painting of the controversial film director Michael Winner. Another shows the pop band Black Lace performing the song "Agadoo", which was a hit both in 1984 and 1998. The voiceover announces: "Recycling rubbish works."

The advertisements are directed by one of the founding fathers of alternative comedy, Peter Richardson, who wrote, directed and performed in the Comic Strip films in the 1980s. They form part of a pounds 4m television campaign, entitled "Do Your Bit", put together by the agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

Launching the campaign yesterday, John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said: "If you want to reach out to people and say `can you do your bit?' you have to express it in a way that's relevant to their everyday lives."

The campaign accompanies the launch of the UK's strategy for sustainable development - a new comprehensive policy framework to make sure government, business, and individuals are all pulling in the same direction to make quality of life as a whole better throughout the UK.

Mr Prescott said: "I would like another word rather than sustainable development. The Americans, and Vice-President Gore in particular, who have thought about this, use the word `liveability'. I don't know whether that means any more to our people or not, but there is a desperate need to convey what we're trying to do in a language people understand."

To make its points, the Do Your Bit television campaign uses a series of celebrity cameos featuring the disc jockeys Chris Evans and Zoe Ball, the former Manchester United footballer George Best and the boxer Chris Eubank.