Ofcom bans Now TV ad after EastEnders star complains

LONDON - Jessie Wallace, the actress who plays Kat Slater in BBC soap 'EastEnders', has had an ad for celebrity title Now magazine banned by Ofcom after she complained that it referred to her in a derogatory manner.

The spot for IPC Connect's Now magazine was created by Heresy, part of Chime Communications, and shows a woman and her presumably gay flatmate dissecting the previous night's goings on through Now magazine.

In the spot, the woman's friend tells her that at 9.30pm she looked like Jennifer Aniston at a premiere but that by 11.30pm she looked "fabulously Jessie Wallace". He then shows her a picture of whom she looked like at 1.30am in the copy of Now magazine that they are reading together, and the woman is horrified.

Wallace complained that her name had been used in the ad without her permission and objected to the ad, which is in breach of the Advertising Standards Code. The code states that with limited exceptions, no living person can be referred to without their permission.

The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre had originally OKed the ad for screening because it did not consider the reference derogatory nor offensive and did not think the actress would object.

However, it has since withdrawn the ad on the instructions of Ofcom, with IPC now using a 10-second cutdown that does not use her name.

The watchdog said in a statement: "We required that advertising making this reference to remain off air unless Jessie Wallace gave her permission for it to be used."

Wallace found herself fodder for the celebrity weeklies for a period when she turned up for numerous premieres and parties on the celeb circuit, although she has now toned down her lifestyle reportedly after being threatened by 'EastEnders' bosses about her antics.

The Sunday Mirror reported this weekend that Wallace's hugely popular character Kat Slater is due to split up with her onscreen husband Alfie Moon, played by Shane Richie, only five months after their wedding.

The ad was written and art directed by Heresy's creative directors, Shaun McIlrath and Andy Taylor, and directed by Simon Cheek through Spirit Films.

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