Family-friendly actor dies at the age of 83

The actor, Lionel Charles Jeffries who is best known as Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, has died at the age of 83 years old.

Mr Jeffries, who appeared in more than 100 films, was a prolific actor, screenwriter and director.

And when more explicit and violent movies began to replace family feature films Mr Jeffries, who was the screenwriter and director of The Railway Children, condemned the trend.

Later in his career he began to encounter problems in getting his family-friendly scripts produced.

He lamented the situation saying: “No one wants family entertainment any more. They want explicit sex”.

A spokesman for Mr Jeffries agent said: “We can confirm he passed away this morning following a long illness.”

Mr Jeffries was born in East London in 1926, and both of his parents were social workers in the Salvation Army.

He is survived by his widow Eileen, to whom he was married for nearly 60 years.

Mr Jeffries’ life-long concern over too much sex in the media echoes recent debates surrounding child sexualisation.

Last week David Cameron said that children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood and be protected from increasing sexualisation and commercialisation.

Mr Cameron laid out Tory plans to penalise companies who market their products inappropriately to children.

And last August the director of a centre for rape victims said that suggestive clothing and explicit music videos are putting children at risk by changing what they deem unacceptable.

Dr Catherine White warned that the increasing use of adult images in youth culture is eroding society’s values and making it difficult for young people to say “that’s not right”.

Last February a consumer watchdog hit out at children’s clothes and toys which ‘normalise’ sex and pornography.

Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus, warned that retailers are selling t-shirts with slogans such as “sex kitten” and “flirt!” for girls as young as six.

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