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D'oh! Tony Blair meets Homer Simpson

Leader to star as animated self in future 'Simpsons' episode

Prime Minister Tony Blair lends his voice to a
Prime Minister Tony Blair lends his voice to a "Simpsons" episode in which the cartoon family vacations in Britain.

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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair put aside his concerns about Iraq for a few minutes to star as an animated version of himself in an episode of cult TV cartoon "The Simpsons," a Downing Street spokesman said on Saturday.

Blair, a longtime fan of the show, spent a short time on Friday recording a few lines of dialogue for a special edition of the hit series in which the dysfunctional yellow cartoon family come to Britain for a holiday.

"The Prime Minister takes every opportunity he can to promote Britain and the script enables him to bang the drum for the tourist industry to a worldwide audience," the spokesman said, adding that the long-planned episode had nothing to do with the war on Iraq.

U.S. citizens make up the largest number of tourists to Britain but visitor numbers have fallen sharply this year because of the war on Iraq and its lead-up.

The series is known for the steady parade of guest celebrities -- including former President Bill Clinton and actress Elizabeth Taylor -- who line up to be lampooned by lending their voices and animated caricatures in guest appearances.

Blair's cartoon alter-ego is depicted with a big cheesy grin and sticky-out ears.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and actor Sir Ian McKellen also feature in the British episode.

"The Simpsons," featuring beer-guzzling, doughnut-chomping family man Homer Simpson, his blue-haired wife Marge and kids, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, remains one of the most watched TV shows in the United States and elsewhere around the world after more than 10 years on air.

The show derives much of its humor from sharp-edged social commentary, skewering authority figures and institutions such as politics, education, the medical profession, law enforcement and the entertainment industry.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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