Commercials? You’ll love ’em! 

1 February 2016

In January 1959, ITV finally reached the north east of England when Tyne Tees Television in Newcastle-upon-Tyne came on air. The first edition of their listings magazine, The Viewer, took the opportunity to explain to the new audience what television advertising was, how it was made and what it would be like. We reprint their article below.



Just after the start of commercial television in Britain, two musicians were having coffee in a London restaurant. As the waitress walked away from them, one whispered: “Look at that girl! What lovely hair.”

His companion, songwriter Julian More, sat up with a jerk. “That’s it!” he said. “That’s just the phrase I’ve been trying to get.”

And a few weeks later, ITV viewers were hearing a new jingle composed by More, which ran: “Silvikrin for lovely hair… Silvikrin for lovely hair… SILVIKRIN SHAMPOO!”

It is by such chance happenings that many of ITV’s top commercials have come into existence.

When Johnny Johnston, leader of the famous Keynotes vocal team, was recording the jingle he had composed for a “Sleep sweeter – Bournvita” commercial, he yawned as the little song came to a close – and by accident, the yawn was recorded on the soundtrack.

The advertiser liked it so much that it has stayed ever since – as proof that Bournvita really does help get you to sleep.

Although few viewers realise it, among the people who lend their services to “the ad spots” are many of the most talented artistes in British show business. Composers like Stanley Black, for instance, are responsible for many of the popular jingles.

One of Stanley’s most successful “hits” was the gay little melody he composed for the very popular Sunblest Bread ad. In this commercial, which has been seen in several different versions, a tiny pigtailed girl, Susie, is constantly trying to flirt with her boy-friend Sammy – who is, of course, far too busy consuming his slice of Sunblest to entertain any thoughts of romance.

It’s typical of the topsy-turvy world of commercials that Sammy’s “voice” is really that of a girl – Denise Bryer, a radio actress.

Another popular “voice” is pint-sized comedian Charlie Drake. His is the larynx behind the endearing little man who is always telling viewers that Lyons’ Quick Brew Tea “does not need one for the – er – pot.”

Surprisingly, cartoon commercials, while always popular with viewers, are not so popular with some advertisers. For one good reason – they’re expensive.

The “er” routine, in which the little man forgets his lines and has to be reminded by a shout offstage, is another example of a studio joke kept in for laughs.

Surprisingly, cartoon commercials, while always popular with viewers, are not so popular with some advertisers. For one good reason – they’re expensive.

About 170 drawings have to be made for a seven-second film, one of the shortest lengths permitted. Obviously, for a thirty- or sixty-second commercial many hundreds of drawings are needed, pushing the cost of production to astronomical heights. Because of this, the majority of commercials are “live-action” films.

Here a popular method is to get a well-known personality to face the cameras and tell you about so-and-so’s product. A classic in this field is the Gilbert Harding commercial for Maclean’s indigestion tablets. (“Indigestion?” says Mr Harding, with a fine display of Harding brusqueness. “Of course I get indigestion!”)

But, cartoon or live-action, we feel sure that, like millions of other viewers, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the commercials. Not only are they informative, but [also] genuinely entertaining as well.

And when you’re watching them, remember this –

It’s the commercials alone which enable ITV to bring you a full sixty hours of top-line entertainment and information each week entirely free of charge.

Whichever way you look at it, you couldn’t ask for a squarer deal than that.



– by your fireside!

“Intimate personal contact between advertiser and audience.” That is how a TTT sales executive describes advertising magazines.

TTT will put on three of these magazines each week. Information Desk on Sunday at 4.40; Ned’s Shed on Monday at 6.40 and on Tuesday at 6.40 Come Shopping with Daphne Padell.

An advertising magazine is a fifteen-minute programme produced in the company’s own studios under the supervision of Presentation Head Raymond Joss, during which a compere demonstrates to the viewers about half a dozen products.

The programmes are “live” – unlike commercials which are nearly always filmed – because advertising magazine producers believe an on-the-spot telecast always has that little extra something in sincerity over the filmed spot… simply because it is happening NOW!

Take Ned’s Shed. Each week cameras will take you to a garden shed to meet handyman Ned, a likable [sic] Northumbrian character, played by Lyle Willis. His shed is always well-stocked with gadgets and spare parts, and he has an old car with which he tinkers.

Daphne Padell, well known as an advertising magazine commere, will herself do most of the selling in Come Shopping with Daphne Padell. Other characters may be introduced, however, to deal with specialised products.

Information Desk each Sunday afternoon will centre on the clerk at his desk who will introduce experts. Subjects will be topical, depending on the time of year.

Personal recommendation is, of course, the basis of the advertising magazine. Those taking part in them know the products they are talking about and here is where that extra touch of sincerity comes in.

By watching advertising magazines you are able to keep in touch with the latest range of goods. And though their primary job is to sell, chances are you will find they are well worth watching for their interest value alone.


You Say

5 responses to this article

Paul Mason 7 February 2016 at 4:56 pm

My grandfather, who could have been some use to this site told me that a loophole in the law allowed for commercial breaks when they were actually frowned on by the ITA. It was to DIVIDE programmes into parts one, two, three etc in order to show ads. The original idea for adverts was to have 10 or 15 minute features which were an “ancestor” of the shopping channels of the last 20 years or so. I don’t remember any of these advert programmes on Granada or ABC as a child, but then one can’t take in everything. I am old enough to remember cigarette adverts, Consulate springs to mind.

Russ J Graham 7 February 2016 at 6:21 pm

The Television Act 1954 hasn’t got that much to say about advertising, other than to ban sponsorship, make sure that there’s a clear definition between adverts and editorial and to require that adverts are shown only in “natural breaks” (this wasn’t defined).

The ITA planned from the beginning for spot advertising to be the main method of showing advertisements, with them being placed between programmes as well as in “natural breaks” inside programmes longer than 20 minutes, with a severe limit of 6 minutes of advertising in any clock hour on average, no adverts in religious programmes and no adverts in or around programmes featuring members of the Royal Family.

The ITV companies pointed out to the ITA that this pushed up the price of advertising (due to scarcity) and made smaller and local businesses unable to advertise at all. They proposed the Advertising Magazines – explained in the box-out at the bottom of the article – as a way of letting small businesses get on to television at a reasonable cost. The ITA agreed with this, and every region had an Advertising Magazine programme or two scheduled (often referred to as “Shoppers’ Guides”).

However, strictly speaking those programmes broke the letter and the spirit of the Act because they blurred the line between editorial and advertising. Everyone turned a blind eye to this until the Pilkington Committee began to look into ITV in 1960. They were very eager to find fault with the ITV companies and with the ITA, and they homed in on this very quickly. The committee’s report was published in 1962 and the ITA implemented the headline recommendations in 1963 – which included banning Advertising Magazines in favour of spot advertisements alone.

The ITV companies then responded with what Geoffrey Lugg of ABC, who loathed the idea, called “chip shop corner” advertisements for local businesses – a single slide with the duty announcer reading a quick, 7-second advert over it live, usually strung together into a 2 or 3 minute segment, often played out before or after the local news (eg, at 5.55, 6.25 or 6.55pm).

Paul Mason 8 February 2016 at 1:27 pm

Regarding the so-called “chip shop corner” one such section of local adverts in the 1970s was called (in my region) Granada Spotlight. A series of Granadaland towns would be featured and businesses local to that area would be advertised. Other ITV regions followed a similar practice. This sort of local advertising has largely vanished from television nowadays, although adverts are still tailored to various regions as I have seen ITV Wales with local ads.

Alan Keeling 9 February 2016 at 5:32 pm

ATV Midlands did a series of ‘quickie’ advertising slots, they ran for 4 minutes under the title Midlands Parade, actor Leslie Dunn provided the voice-overs. This series ran from 1957 until the early 70s & covered every area of the Midlands, one such example that I can recall was the now defunct Rounds Furniture Store of West Bromwich.

Ronnie MacLennan Baird 23 April 2019 at 9:11 pm

STV has its fair share of cheaply made voice over caption ads and I still remember one (though not what it was for) that finished “Halfway down Robertson Streer, Halfway down Robertson Street, Halfway down Robertson Street …

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