Greatest TV Ads Never Seen (C4): KYLIE Mingogue, wearing the flimsiest of bra and knickers, astride a mechanical bucking bronco is a sight denied most of the population - until now.

She was judged too sexy to be seen by viewers in the privacy of their own homes. The ad for Agent Provocateur sexy undies was shown only in a few cinemas. A few more million people were given the thrill in this programme, a valid excuse to show banned commercials, which provided a stimulating insight into the ad world through the minds of the makers, regulators and public. And, of course, there was plenty of sex and violence in the ads themselves.

Even those behind Kylie's effort were surprised to get her to agree to do it in the first place. That's probably because "we weren't entirely honest in how far we wanted her to go," admitted producer Tim Marshall.

But the Aussie songstress threw herself wholeheartedly into promoting erotic lingerie. "I couldn't believe how good it was," said Marshall, with a large grin on his face. The man from the advertising regulators agreed, suggesting the ad should be resubmitted "to give us the opportunity of looking at it purely for academic and altruistic reasons". The phrase "dirty old man" springs to mind.

The snag with that particular ad was that it pleased the lads but not necessarily the women who buy such undergarments.

Celebrity endorsement is a minefield. Getting a star involved is, one industry observer noted, "a great idea if you have no other ideas". An ad in which entertainer Lionel Blair used the f-word was a bad idea. So was getting England coach Glenn Hoddle as the person to embody the wholesome goodness of a breakfast cereal. He was dropped after splitting from his wife.

The prize for the greatest celebrity advert never seen belongs to Barclays Bank. In 1980, it signed comic actor Peter Sellers to play South London spiv Harry Hodges in a commercial. On the first day of shooting, he got rid of the writer and created his own character, a Jewish con man called Monty Casino. It was his last role as he died shortly after filming it. Barclays pulled the ads as a mark of respect, then remade it with Peter Cook as Harry Hodges.

Children swearing - or appearing to swear as the makers got the youngster to say "Jackson Pollock" and replaced it with a similar sounding swear word - and animals being mistreated are surefire ways to get your ad banned. Those featuring toys committing suicide, Jesus returning for a bargain ("a megasale worth coming back for") and a man regurgitating a dog to illustrate dogbreath all fell foul of the regulators.

Now there's one "anything goes" place - email ads, or viral advertising as it's known. You can be as rude and as shocking as you like. Whether you'll sell your product by doing so is still a moot point.

Published: 11/03/2005