When the comedy genius that is Adrian Edmonson of cult shows such as Bottom and The Young Ones, is hosting a programme, you kind of expect a soupcon of his speciality.
Especially when the offering in question delves into the BBC archives of the last 60 years to look at food and drink TV ads from yesteryear.
But ITV’s serving of Ade in Adland was comparable only to the rather odd brown and gelatinous tinned mince offering from Fray Bentos in the 1970s.
Edmondson’s journey explores how adverts reflect the changing world we live in, gender stereotypes, work and shopping patterns and spending habits.
Although the script chronologically charters these changes, I was waiting for the funny man to drop in a couple of gags here and there, ad-lib or do something other than wear silly costumes on a virtual set.
Maybe I should have taken a leaf out of Hemmingway’s book and drunk a lot more to make the first half about alcohol more interesting.
Opening with a 1955 Guinness ad, I’m amazed a dancing sea lion balancing a bottle of Guinness on its nose chasing a man ever inspired anyone to drink the good stuff’.
Grafting blokes in boozers with nagging wives seemed to encompass the 60s, the era where Bulmers made men strong. But the Chas & Dave classic Rabbit soundtrack to the Courage Best ad reminded me of my father and Uncle Pat playing the song to the annoyance of my mother during the weekend football.
Joan Collins drenched in alcohol was a winning combination for Cinzano as she and Leonard Rossiter headed up a campaign which unfortunately also boosted sales for Martini.
During the 70s even Mr and Mrs Bobby Moore got on board and encouraged people to ‘look in at the local’ where the beginnings of a more youthful and family orientated boozer began.
The shift that gave women disposable incomes, meant the divine introduction of sweet wines such as Blue Nun dubbed ‘the right wine for every time’ and was for ‘sophisticated’ women with bright red lipstick and big curls who understood their palate.
And so the binge on ads from the Castlemaine XXXX through to dippy English men presenting French father-in-laws with Le’Piat d’Or continued to 2000 with Jack Dee, compromising his integrity with dancing ladybirds for John Smith’s ingenious new widget and the growing popularity of drinking at home.
The second half revealed some bizarre foods and mind sets.
Beaming housewives caring for grumpy, hungry husbands showed that the male species may have died out if it wasn’t for the introduction of the fridge and freezer in the 60s which allowed men to feed themselves when women were eventually liberated from daily shopping chores.
Making me glad to be an 80s child, some great instructional ads from the 1950s told people how to ‘cook’ a toasty and baked beans, while comedian Tony Hancock relished in egg-shaped happiness and a somewhat delirious wife declared: “Since I married, I bake sausage rolls almost every week, my husband is sausage roll mad!”
Brand names such as Danepack with its naked camping family, fingers of Fudge and Heinz stir up fond memories, so watching the Smash martians ridicule us for peeling potatoes was entertaining, but more of Edmonson’s natural style would have livened up a string of mostly black and white ads with an overruling grey theme.
While the funny man successfully identifies changing habits, so much comedy gold was missed. The ads’ limited technology, basic slogans and primitive marketing expertise meant the novelty of watching black and white TV soon wore off. Perhaps I confused the purpose of the show and it was meant to be a factual documentary – but why touch on Edmonson’s natural talent and make it only marginally amusing?
The show falls short of being anything other than microwavable beige, with a peppering of too many ads and dollops of Dairylea washed down with Blue Nun. What a shame Edmonson couldn’t give us Vyvyan Basterd’s view on things!