The perfect blend 

28 November 2023 tbs.pm/78953

Anthony Head and Sharon Maughan

Picture by JOHN PAUL

 

TVTimes cover

From the TVTimes for 3-9 December 1988

IT IS THE television coffee advertisement that has the nation hooked.

In the latest episode, that sophisticated woman who has been constantly borrowing ‘Gold Blend’ from her smooth, good-looking neighbour is surprised by his late appearance at a dinner party.

‘I won’t be late tomorrow,’ he assures her, suggestively, coupled with an invitation to dinner.

‘What makes you think I’ll accept?’ she says, in a voice that indicates she certainly will.

‘You can’t resist my coffee,’ comes the reply, with the hint that it might involve much more.

The story will continue with episodes four and five in the New Year, so it might just do that.

But, for the moment, actress Sharon Maughan and actor Anthony Head are mystified at their special chemistry.

‘It comes out much stronger than it seems at the time we are filming,’ says Anthony. ‘It is not as if there’s any real-life thing other than the fact we find it fun working together.’

Anthony, 34, has been living with young business woman Sarah Fisher, 24, for the past five years; Sharon is married to actor Trevor Eve, who received a different sort of fame eight years ago in the TV series Shoestring.

Ironically, Sharon, 37, is now getting as much fan-mail from the 40-second advertisement as her husband did from a regular series watched by 17 million.

It also came as a life-line for her, after a series of desperate disappointments when she and Trevor were on the brink of big success in Hollywood.

‘I suddenly became very ill, and doctors did not know what it was,’ she recalls. “They thought I had an allergy to smog.

‘It came at a time when I was negotiating to do Dynasty. I said that I couldn’t do it but didn’t want to give the reason, so they scrapped the part.

‘I knew I couldn’t do a thing professionally for at least six months, while they tried to get the illness under control.

‘Everything is fine now and I am very superstitious about talking on the subject, so I won’t say what it was, except that it was potentially disfiguring.

‘But it made me realise that the only thing that mattered, apart from my family, is my work.

‘If I became disfigured and couldn’t act, then I would be a barren person. On the other hand, it made me realise that looks are not everything. It was a period of great confusion for me and I felt very panicky.’

But the run of bad luck didn’t end there. Just as she returned to Britain, her agent suddenly dropped her. “That was a great blow, because I thought he was a family friend,’ says Sharon.

‘Trevor was terribly upset, too, as he felt it was the agent’s way of getting back at him, since he used to represent us both.

‘So I found myself in the position of being ill, without an agent, with two children, Alice, now six, and Jack, two, and no job.

‘I said to Trevor, “I’ve come back to a country where two years ago I was in a strong position, and no one seems to give a damn any more”.

 

Three stills from the adverts

Borrowing coffee has never been so suggestive! After three commercials, Anthony Head and Sharon Maughan have finally found themselves supping coffee together. What next..?

 

So, after 10 years of refusing commercials throughout her successes in the Civil War TV drama By the Sword Divided and The Flame Trees of Thika, she auditioned for the Nescafé advertisement.

‘I realised that this was a coming back without having to slog myself into the ground,’ says Sharon, realistically. ‘I remembered it had done Fiona Fullerton a lot of good and hoped it might do the same for me.’

But she emphasises that her own Liverpool background, where she lived in a three-bedroom terraced house with her docker father, mother and four brothers, was dramatically different from the cucumber-cool woman she now portrays.

‘We would be more likely to have our coffee in a mug,’ says Sharon, with a smile. ‘But we had plenty of warmth and love, which set me up for life and helped me in my lowest moments.

‘In advertisers’ jargon, I am supposed to be a Lively Lady. She is a very smart, go-getting woman with her own, good income. Looking through the categories, I think I border on the hairy-armpits, social worker-type.’

With near-waist-length, light brown hair – it is blonded for the commercial – and a 5ft 9in model’s figure, Sharon looks very lively indeed.

As for Anthony, he has experience of a self-assured, sleekly dressed business woman with girlfriend Sarah. ‘She is a terrific girl and very sharp,’ he says, proudly. ‘Companies keep asking her to put their affairs in order because she is so well organised.

‘We had met when I was working at the National Theatre but hadn’t actually been out together,’ says Anthony.

“Then, about two months after I left, she called and suggested we meet up. She was very down-to-earth and self-confident – and we’ve not looked back since.
‘What I particularly like about the commercial is that it treats men and women equally. Either of them can make the first move. And why not?’

Then, with the sort of slow smile that has won him a new legion of female followers, he says: ‘But you’ve got to be so careful about the girls you invite in for coffee…’

 

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