A TV advert to promote legendary North-East comedian Bobby Thompson has been banned - because he is seen smoking in the footage.

The comedian, who was known as “the little waster”, was famed for his flat cap, his broad pitmatic and his trademark cigarette.

But an advert to promote a DVD using old footage of shows has now fallen foul of advertising rules, which bans cigarettes and smoke.

His cigarette has been digitally removed from the footage, but Clearcast, a company which works with advertisers to ensure they meet standards set by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), says the presence of smoke also breaches their code.

Some of Thompson’s jokes also failed to make the grade, with four adverts banned because Clearcast said the content might offend women, upset the recently bereaved or encourage heavy drinking.

Producer Ray Laidlaw said: “We sent off around 20 scripts at first so they could make some edits. Four of them came back saying we couldn’t use them.

“We were a bit fed up about that but it’s the way it goes. But then they banned them all because you can see smoke in the air.”

“Anybody that’s got an ounce of brain can see it’s archive footage and at the time, in workingmen’s clubs, most people smoked.”

He added: “We can’t remake them because the only footage we have has smoke in it.

“It’s sad because unfortunately the decisions are made by people who don’t understand our culture up here. At the time he represented a whole tranche of people, the pitmen and the working men. It’s been taken out of context.”

An advert for the DVD, which was first produced as a video 15 years ago, ran on TV last year but was allowed because it was a re-run of one approved some years ago.

A spokesperson for Clearcast said: “We were recently asked to approve an ad for a Bobby Thompson DVD. We were unable to approve the ad at this stage because it showed an excessive amount of cigarette smoke and rule 10.3 of the BCAP code states ‘Advertisements must not promote smoking or the use of tobacco products’.

“Our job is to get ads to air so we would be happy to work with the advertiser on an edit that we consider would be acceptable for broadcast.”