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.

Snow White, The Studio,

York Theatre Royal

NICK Lane's latest family show begins as it means to go on with an announcement that the sending and receiving of carrier pigeons during the performance is not permitted. And people should turn off their mobile phones too.

It's the irresistible mix of the knowing, the witty, the childish, the surreal and the downright daft that make Lane - writer, director and half the cast - something of a genius at creating this type of show. If anything, this five-star treat is even more imaginative and funnier than his previous York shows, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and Beauty And The Beast.

By the time the dwarf Robert De Niro appears - and I won't spoil the surprise by revealing the exact circumstances - Lane and co-star Fiona Wass have already scaled the heights of silliness in this retelling of the Snow White fairy tale.

While Wass appeals as a down-to-earth Snow White and scares the kids as her evil stepmother, Lane gives us a collection of true originals. Like Teapot the Guardian-reading dog ("I'm not eccentric, I have character"); Dudley Huntsman, the axeman and children's entertainer; and an out-of-work actor who specialises in playing dwarfs despite his height.

Alas, the magnificent seven little people have gone off to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood, but Lane has an ingenious trick up his sleeve to get them into the action.

What's great is that the show works on two levels. While youngsters get to shout "Pants" and "Bum", and laugh at fart and poo jokes, the adults can appreciate the more sophisticated humour that Lane has slipped in.

Until April 2. Tickets (01904) 623568.

Steve Pratt

The Jungle Book, Darlington Civic Theatre

WHEN you are up against a Disney classic loved by millions, you have your work cut out to produce a show that's entertaining, fast-moving and fun in comparison. Yet the Birmingham Stage Company does exactly that with its production of The Jungle Book.

From the moment we see the baby Mowgli being cared for by a pack of wolves, we take the creatures of the jungle to our hearts. All our favourites are here - from the loveable cuddly Baloo, played by Tony Jayawardena, whose hugs smother Mowgli, to Mary Betts' excellent Kaa, the cunning snake, who fancies choosing her supper from the children in the audience.

Children love the slapstick elements - the barmy Jackal who bursts into a Bee Gees number, the monkeys who blow raspberries and throw bananas, and the scene where Mowgli learns to say the word "shoe". Because the story is so absorbing, the play doesn't need audience participation to maintain interest.

The highlights were the foot-tapping new songs, every one as catchy as those in the film. A good show leaves us adults singing as we leave the theatre but you know it has been a true children's hit when four-year-olds are attempting the words of new songs on the way home.

This production is about to tour the country before its transfer to London's West End. It's fun, it's poignant and it's family entertainment at its very best. Catch it while you can.

Until Saturday, tickets (01325) 486555

Christine Fieldhouse