Mrs Doyle taxes the patience of viewers

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The Independent Online

The sight of the batty housekeeper Mrs Doyle urging us to fill in our tax forms electronically with her catchphrase, "Go on, go on, go online", has had viewers rushing to turn off their televisions.

The Inland Revenue advert featuring the actress Pauline McLynn, who found fame in the comedy Father Ted, has been named as the most annoying on television in 2001 in a survey published yesterday.

The poll of 1,000 people for the trade magazine Marketing found that 39 per cent felt Mrs Doyle's droning was the "most abrasive, aggravating, disturbing, infuriating, annoying and cheesy TV ads of the year". It beat the latest advert for Ferrero Rocher, which shows the inner struggle of a dinner-party hostess who does not want to share her chocolates. That polled 36 per cent of votes.

Mrs Doyle replaced the long-standing cartoon character Hector as the friendly face of the Inland Revenue last year. However, her hectoring tone proved the ultimate advertising turn-off for four in 10 viewers.

A Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo advert – in which a lawyer lets her hair down in court – came joint third, alongside a Halifax advert of staff singing finance-related themes to Ricky Martin's La Vida Loca.

Meanwhile, an advert for NatWest bank came fifth in the survey. It was one of several banks and building societies that featured among the worst 20 commercials. A spokesman for Marketing said: "Three of the top five ads relate to finance, which perhaps shows that viewers are turned off by them. The number one choice shows no one likes paying their taxes and being clever can sometimes backfire."

Other turn-offs included the jaunts to Sainsbury's by the TV chef Jamie Oliver; Standard Life's talking baby, and a self-mocking Nivea For Men.