Little Britain toymaker Character Group reported a 60 per cent rise in sales over Christmas as figurines such as the Vicky Pollard doll became one of the festive period's most popular gifts.

Despite operating in a "difficult and very competitive trading environment", the Surrey-based group said trading for the first four months of its financial year, which included Christmas, had "exceeded expectations".

It sold out of Little Britain products, which are still in demand. The company licenses, makes and distributes toys based on well-known characters.

Last summer it licensed talking dolls, key chains and mugs based on the BBC comedy's stars.

The dolls sold for £20 and produced catchphrases such as the tracksuit-wearing Vicky Pollard's "Yeah but no" and PVC-clad Daffyd's "I'm the only gay in the village".

Character Group distributes them and its other products, like Dr Who-inspired Dalek figures, around the world, including stores such as Hamleys, Tesco and Toys R Us in the UK.

In a trading statement it said its performance in the first four months of the year, coupled with its portfolio of products, made it confident of further progress.

The business, which launched in 1994, has offices in the UK and Hong Kong and employs 251 - 128 in the UK.