PERMIT me a rant today. I reckon sex is something extremely nice between consenting adults in private, preferably restricted to just couples, but whatever turns you on.

You just can't get away from it these days, and the telly is the worst offender. Not the programmes, the adverts.

Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating a return to Victorian values where they even covered a naked table leg with a large cloth because it was too revealing. And the Victorians were as randy as the rest of us anyway.

Sex sells, there's no doubt about it, but the bottom - and just about everything else - must be dropping out of this commodity market.

It's embarrassing when you are sitting watching TV with your young teenage daughter and Great Aunt Maud, and on comes some advert that makes you want to slide behind the settee.

I think it's the Carling lager advert that has got me going. You know the one, where a woman pours lager all over the house so her grotesquely-endowed partner will lick the place clean with his hippopotamus of a tongue. When he's done she's about to repeat the performance by pouring lager on herself - but the can is empty.

By the way, if you go to the cinema and see anything rated more than a PG, the advert is even more risqu. She does not run out of lager.

Whatever happened to Pearl & Dean, eh, with the local carpet ads, Silk Cut and the Indian restaurant "only five minutes from this cinema"?

The master of film censorship, Lord Harlech of Soho (that always amused me), must be spinning in his grave.

Incidentally, have you got your head round these censorship gradings at the cinema and for video rental, yet? There's U (universal), UC, PG, 12A, 12, 15, 18, R18 Restricted (to be supplied only in licensed sex shops - and there are now about 90 of those in the UK, according to the internet).

What was wrong with the U, A and X-rated system I grew up with when we would stand outside the cinema and ask an adult to "get us in, please" for A-certificate films?

Where was I? Ah, the lager. Apart from it being a terrible waste of the amber nectar, it is unnecessary. Blokes don't need to be turned on to buy a can of lager. The need is congenital.

As for the Pot Noodle ad, that is another outrageous exploitation of sex. "It's dirty, you want it" is the slogan, and a jaded young chap seeking spicier tastes gets his face slapped by a succession of voluptuous women for asking for it (the Pot Noodle).

Sex is used to sell booze, cars, tyres, breakfast cereal - that lady in the red swimming costume - chocolate Flakes, you name it. Only the crum-bliest, flak-iest cho-oh-clate...

Apparently it is all right as long as it is after the watershed, that mythical time when children are safely tucked under their duvets and safe from corruption.

But they don't all disappear magically up the wooden hill at the witching hour. And most of them have TVs in their bedroom, these days, and probably secretly switch on just as we used to read under the bed covers with a torch after the parental lights-out order.

When sexy ads make us as jaded about the product as a certain commercial offering amazing savings on sofas and three-piece suites, what then?

Will we see a return to good, old-fashioned humour, or will we be treated to even greater depths of depravity to the point where each advert for, say, suggestive fruit and veg has to be given a PG or R18 Restricted grading?

Come on, there's good, clean fun - and then there's the interesting sort.

Updated: 13:17 Wednesday, March 19, 2003