Baby doll shocks adult ears

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The Independent Online
IT WAS Christmas Day in Hall Green, south Birmingham, and the Willis family was gathered round the tree to open its presents. Gemma, aged 10, took the wrapping off 'Tummy Talks', a round-faced, big-eyed talking, doll which was supposed to make happy gurgling noises.

Instead, when Gemma pressed its stomach, the baby doll shouted: 'Eff-off' and broke into a peal of deranged laughter.

'We thought we were going mad,' said John Willis, her father, who bought the doll at Tesco in Redditch. 'I said 'maybe it's my ears or something'. But we listened again and it was exactly the same thing. The doll went 'mama, mama, eff-off . . . ha] ha] ha]'

'It put a bit of a dampener on Christmas. We want compensation.'

In Peterlee, Co Durham, a shocked Shirley Adamson heard the same thing a week before Christmas when she checked whether the pounds 13.99 doll she had bought from Asda for her granddaughter worked.

Tesco said last week that it had begun a full investigation into the Birmingham doll. But at Asda, where hapless managers and toy buyers have been forced to listen to dozens of Tummy Talks talking, a spokesman said that its internal inquiry had already been completed and had found that what sounded like 'eff-off' was really Tummy Talks giggling.

'If you are primed in advance to hear her saying 'eff-off,' you will,' he said, 'but it's not really there. We sell tens of thousands of these dolls and this is our first complaint.'

Atlantic Toys Ltd, which imports the Chinese-made doll, agreed that the apparent swearing 'depended on your translation of the laughter'.

John Hames, the company sales manager, said the Chinese giggle was 'a little strange' but ruled out the possibility that a foul-mouthed saboteur had been at work.

(Photograph omitted)