Tussauds give Brown the wax for being too obscure

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The Independent Online

He may be Britain's Prime Minister, but Gordon Brown has been deemed too obscure to merit a place in Madame Tussauds.

The museum of world-famous waxworks, which has just unveiled likenesses of the actresses Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, has had second thoughts about including his model in its world leaders' section.

It marks a rapid about-turn by the London visitor attraction, which only last week invited Mr Brown for a sitting, saying he was a "hugely popular" choice among visitors. All that had changed yesterday, when the museum said there was simply not enough demand to justify commissioning the £150,000 waxwork.

Ben Lovett, a spokesman for Madame Tussauds, said: "We are going to wait for a general election to see what will happen, because that is the ultimate test of public opinion. We are always continuing to monitor public opinion so if there's a surge of support then we will reconsider."

To make matters worse, Mr Lovett added that Mr Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, who was cast in wax while opposition leader 13 years ago, was still a big hit with foreign visitors. He added: "Tony Blair is a very popular attraction. He is instantly recognisable to tourists."

The Tories said the decision proved that Tussauds thought Labour would lose the next election, although they were unable to say whether David Cameron had been invited for a sitting.

Within hours of the apparent snub emerging, the saga took a bizarre twist when Downing Street released a letter written eight days ago in which the attraction's global head of external relations, Nicky Hobbs, invited Mr Brown for a sitting just 10 days ago. She wrote: "I am honoured to tell you that the Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown, has been selected to be honoured by the Tussauds team and be amongst the very select group of people that are made into wax figures."

She added: "I would send a team to a location of Mr Brown's choice and to suit his schedule if he is happy to sit. We realise Mr Brown is of course incredibly busy, and we would hope to agree on a sitting date that falls within the next six months."

The waxworks museum was involved in a similar political controversy in 2002 when it decided not to display a model of the then Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith. Until then, every major party leader had been exhibited since the museum opened at its current site since 1884. Mr Duncan Smith's predecessor, William Hague, was portrayed as was Kenneth Clarke, who had lost out to Mr Duncan Smith in the leadership the previous year.

A spokesman for the museum said at the time: "We want figures who will inspire strong emotions and provoke strong reactions. In our view, Mr Duncan Smith, who most people have never even heard of, is unlikely to achieve either of those feats. Ever."