Blair completes odyssey to US stardom by meeting Homer

Just when you thought Tony Blair could do no more to ingratiate himself with the American public, the Prime Minister has allowed himself to be portrayed meeting and greeting The Simpsons on their arrival at Heathrow airport.

Homer, Marge, Bart and the other cartoon stars are depicted shaking hands with an animated version of Mr Blair in the latest series of the hit television show. The Prime Minister has approved the sequence, and provided the voice-over himself a few days after the end of the Iraqi war.

J K Rowling and Sir Ian McKellen also appear (as themselves) in the British-based episode, called 'The Regina Monologues', which is likely to become a Simpsons classic.

But the cartoon image of Britain's Prime Minister giving personal attention to America's most famously dysfunctional family will not displease those critics who already portray him as a poodle to President George Bush.

The episode will be shown on American television at the start of November and in Britain on Sky One later in the same month.

In another British angle to the show, Simon Cowell, - the acid-tongued talent-show judge who made himself a household name in America after Pop Idol crossed the Atlantic - is featured in another episode of The Simpsons in the new series. Mr Cowell appears in cartoon form as a cruel nursery school admissions officer who refuses to accept the toddler Maggie Simpson because of her speech disability.

While Mr Blair associates with dysfunctional cartoon families, Sky One highlights the potential mayhem caused by British children running wild in a new series, Little Monsters.

A group of children, aged between nine and 13, is given the opportunity to "terrorise'' adult volunteers in what are described as "sick and twisted challenges'', including giving them electric shocks. David Alpin, the show's executive producer, was more restrained, describing Little Monsters as "a cross between The Simpsons and The Bash Street Kids.''

The rest of Sky One's autumn schedule is dominated by sex shows, such as Vivid XXX andThe Big Fantasy.

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