British PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair refused to hold a dog in his cameo appearance in The Simpsons, because he was afraid of being portrayed as "America's poodle".

The British premier was worried that his dwindling popularity at home would be further damaged by the cheeky gag.

But the cartoon's writer and executive producer Al Jean has praised the British leader for being a genuine fan of the show.

He says, "There was a scene where Mr Blair presents the Simpsons with a corgi dog as they get off the plane. This had to be cut because Downing Street felt there was a risk that he would be seen as America's poodle.

"Mr Blair was great with his lines. It seems he genuinely loves the show. He had clearly watched a lot of episodes and told us he felt that if he did this, then maybe he'd be a bit of a hero to his children."

05/01/2004 17:55