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'Hip, cool, unusual': Marge Simpson goes nude

She has just turned 20, boasts an hour-glass figure, and has millions of male admirers around the world. But there Marge Simpson’s similarity with your average Playboy cover-girl ends.

In a bold departure for both Hugh Hefner’s empire and America’s longest-running television sitcom, Ms Simpson has nonetheless agreed to become the first cartoon character to disrobe for the glossy gentleman’s magazine.

Pictures of her cover shoot, draped over a strategically placed “bunny girl” chair, in a manner that perhaps recalls Christine Keeler, were released yesterday. It will appear in next month's magazine, under the headline: “The devil in Marge Simpson.”

A Playboy spokesman said Ms Simpson had granted them an interview, which would appear next to three pages of portraits that are “sexy” and feature “implied nudity”.

The decision for the matriarch of America’s most famous – and lucrative – family to dip her bright yellow toe into the world of soft-core pornography was not taken lightly.

Fox TV, which broadcasts The Simpsons, agreed to the project as part of a public relations offensive for the show’s 20th anniversary. It has just been renewed for another two years, after which it will become America’s longest-running primetime television show ever.

Playboy, for its part, is hoping that the venture will attract a younger generation of readers to its magazine. The firm’s new CEO, Scott Flanders, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Ms Simpson’s cover-shoot is “obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It had never been done, and we thought it would be kind of hip, cool and unusual.”