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Relax with F

Almost three decades after setting the standards with risqué and downright naughty humour, Robert Todd’s Quitting Hollywood are thriving with both multiples and independents as well as moving forward into new areas such as children’s humour.

ART is one of those words that provokes a reaction from just about everybody, from kids’ gales of laughter through general giggles to gentler souls’ snorts of disgust – but Quitting Hollywood didn’t expect it to be banned from a design. With their history of being set up by owner

Robert Todd as the furore raged over the BBC’s banning of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s debut single Relax for obscenity, Basildon-based Quitting Hollywood are known for leading edge, innovative humour. The fi rst 12 cards Robert commissioned in

1985 were rude and sexist – talking about blow jobs, being a dick, secretaries and cucumbers – and they’ve continued in that vein.

So, having now expanded that humour speciality to cover children’s sends in a gentler fashion, commercial director Richard Edmondson and creative manager Paula Malloy were very surprised when a major customer insisted the word fart was removed from their Pik-A-Do boys’ card for an eight-year-old.

“The whole thing has come almost full circle,” said Richard, who joined the publishers in September 2012 after working for Hallmark and Carte Blanche, “when Robert started they were banning stuff for being obscene but he was getting away with doing the rudest cards.

“Now you switch on the TV at 6.30pm and can see someone with their tongue down someone else’s throat, and on

kept under the counter and only sold in brown paper bags. Richard added: “It’s

quite ironic that, in the year when the BBC was banning obscene content, Robert decided to launch a card company that was very rude and then trudge round London with an A-Z to sell his products. “The funny thing is that the media at the time was very quick to jump on content in music and on television but rude greetings cards were ok. “In the early

days it

Google you can get almost anything, yet we can’t put fart on a card for a UK retailer!” Paula, who creates 90 per cent of the designs and has worked with Robert for 11 years, added: “It’s one of the points we have to really take on board now as to what’s acceptable – my seven-year- old nephew comes out with the word fart so he’s comfortable with it, but maybe parents aren’t.

“Even though the world has become broader minded, we have to be mindful of who we’re supplying and whether they’ll be happy.”

When Quitting Hollywood began

there was no internet, and TV had a rigidly-enforced 9pm watershed, with just four TV channels as Channel 4 was less than two years old . And offi ce legend confi rms some cards were


was very leading edge – or bleeding edge even – and Robert even got hauled in front of the local police on one occasion because someone complained about a rude card!”

● No quitters - Richard and Paula, with Robert (left)

These days Quitting Hollywood supply all the multiples from Tesco and Asda to their just-confi rmed listing with Morrisons, as well as many independents, and export to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and some expat areas such as Spain. There is volume in the

multiples, but the independents are able to take a broader, more risqué selection as the bigger operations have a more rigorous approval process. “These big corporations take great

responsibility,” said Richard, “and will decide not to take a card rather than upset 0.001 per cent of the

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