07 January 2010

New Hovis ad set in age of Victoria

Olympic cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton has just filmed a TV advert (right) as part of her new three-year deal to be a brand ambassador for brown bread.

The new ad references one of the famous on British TV: a boy pushing his bread delivery bike up, then clattering down, Gold Hill in Shaftesbury (other pics). (It's all on YouTube.) It ran through the 1970s to the strains of a brass band parping the Largo from Dvorak's Symphony No 9 in E minor, or as we classical musicians call it, the 'Hovis'.

The director of that original was Ridley Scott (later of Bladerunner fame), while the boy actor, Carl Barlow, got the part because he was the only one of the candidates who was both prepared to have a haircut and who could ride a bike.

One of the chapters in my book 50 Quirky Bike Rides tells you how to recreate this very advert, complete with map. Here's an extract...

“Laaast stop on round would be old Ma Peggotty's place,” you reminisce as you push up, about an epoch so distant definite articles had not fully evolved. “'Twas like taking bread to the top of the world!”

Turn round and rattle downhill. “'Twas a grand ride back though,” you continue, twasly. The tourists sitting outside the cafe at the top of the hill will be taking pictures of you. And pointing at you and sniggering.

To re-enact the rest of the ad you can visit one of bakeries the centre of town, or one of the pubs: “And aaafterward, I knew baker would ’ave kettle on and doorsteps of ’ot ’Ovis ready. ‘There's ’olemeal in ’Ovis,’ he'd say.

‘Get it inside you, lad, does you
 good, that. One day you'll go up that hill as faaast as you come dewn!’"

Finish with the 1973-style Voice of Authority, obviously a chap with a pipe. “Hoe-vis,” you say, mindful of your elocution lessons. “It's ez good for yew todayyy, ez it's warlways beeyan”.

What next in the cycling-icons-do-TV-nostalgia thing? Chris Hoy as the Green Cross Code man? Rebecca Romero serving Ferrero Rocher at the ambassador's party? Bradley Wiggins doing covers of The Jam videos?

Actually, he'd be rather good at that.


  1. Must be hell pushing a bike up that hill with cleated shoes.

  2. I never understood why all the characters in the original ad were lazy stereotypes of Yorkshireness, yet the setting was clearly Dorset.

  3. Well, the narrator of the ad sounds more West Country than West Yorkshire to me, but I suppose the brass band made some people think it was set in the north.

    Mind you, Andy Capstick's spoof version ('Capstick comes home') later on certainly relocated it to Yorkshire, so maybe that's why people think it was set in the dark satanic mills instead of Shaftesbury.

    That said, the baker was played by Bill Maynard, who later achieved fame as idiot-Yorkie Selwyn Froggitt. Never mind...

  4. Friend of mine lives at the top of Gold Hill. Must be fed up with all the re-enactments.

  5. the worst advert ever!! victoria who???? smarmy advert!!!! blurrrrrrrrrrr.....