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Why we need a Milk Tray man who has a soft centre as well

By Jane Graham

Published 05/02/2016

Tasty treat: new Milk Tray Man Patrick McBride
Tasty treat: new Milk Tray Man Patrick McBride

All through the Seventies and Eighties, this debonair, handsome daredevil was the ultimate symbol of the heroic male. Basically, he was James Bond, except better because his movies only lasted 30 seconds and he never risked his cool exterior by saying anything stupid. In fact, the Milk Tray Man never said anything at all. He just brought chocolates. Which might be why women loved him so much.

After more than a decade's absence, presumably due to a perceived cultural shift regarding the appeal of the strong, silent, ridiculously good-looking type (God, how dull were the Noughties?), the Milk Tray Man is back. Liverpudlian firefighter Patrick McBride was unveiled in the role this week and, yup, he fits the bill.

Raven-haired, square of jaw, broad of shoulder, devoid of paunch - he looks exactly like the kind of guy who would leap from a helicopter into a third-floor bedroom to drop off a box of chocolates, stopping only to smile enigmatically before disappearing back into the shadows.

So far, so thrilling for those of us who've been inspired by the announcement to check out old Milk Tray ads on YouTube and discovered that Eighties' Milk Tray man James Coombes - who looked a bit like a young Laurence Olivier in Heathcliff mode - might actually have provided an early template for our ideal physical specimen. (Note to all previous boyfriends - don't get too puffed up, we women often set aside such concerns for a GSOH.)

However, my doubts set in when Patrick started to talk.

Patrick's voice is not the problem. He is not cursed with the nasal mousy whine of David Beckham, nor the stultifyingly slow, dull drone of that chap in Midsomer Murders (who also looks like David Cameron, poor sod.) He has a perfectly fine voice. The issue is what he said. What Cadbury have evidently sent him out to the media to say. The chocolate-makers are keen for it to be known that the new Milk Tray man is a firefighter. And that he did his audition in his fireman's uniform and even "swung a bystander into a rescue lift". This information will meet with most women's approval.

However, McBride's insistence that it was his caring, sensitive side which clinched the job is discombobulating.

One does wonder if Cadbury have a full understanding of what it is about firemen that women are drawn to.

Bird-lovers are usually sensitive, too, but we don't all fancy Bill Oddie.

Perhaps feeling too strongly the connection between the Milk Tray man and James Bond, Cadbury have also been wheeling out brand manager Hortense Foult Rothenburger to reassure the public that the 2016 version will "thoughtful as well as adventurous".

Just as Bond has become a metrosexual ponderer, fraught with a zeitgeisty existential dread, the Milk Tray man has taken on new depths. He'll probably carry a picture of his best friend who died in Afghanistan in his wallet. He won't just leap onto speeding trains, he'll take time to nip inside to give the economy class toilet a clean.

He won't just look good in a black polo neck, he'll know what wash to set it to. Maybe he won't disappear once he's put down his chocolates, but hang around for the object of his affections to turn up, so they can have a chat about how Big Jim in HR was rude to her twice today.

Though bearing in mind he only has 30 seconds to do his stuff, one wonders if, after demonstrating how thoughtful he is, there'll be enough time for him to pick up the chocolates at all.

The past has never been so humorous

It's a bizarre concept - simply placing an inebriated B-list comedian in front of a camera and watching him/her struggle to describe a historical event while remaining in control of bodily functions.

But that's all there is to US-imported Comedy Central cult hit Drunk History, the UK version of which launched its second series this week. In these booze-troubled times, the celebration of the dignity-defying properties of binge drinking is also rather irresponsible.

So, I'm struggling to explain why I laughed more at this show than I have at any episode of Benidorm, Tracey Ullman, or Birds of a Feather. Maybe because, unlike them, it's unbelievably funny?

Olympics in race to be safe for athletes

With around 4,000 cases of microcephaly - the Zika-related disease linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains - in Brazil since October, the speedy spread of the Zika virus is an epic disaster.

Yet, we are assured, the Brazil Olympics will go on as normal and Rio "will be safe".

Easy for the ever-arrogant IOC to say, but why should young women who hope to have children soon - surely a decent proportion of female athletes - take a risk as enormous and terrifying as this? And as the disease can be passed through sexual contact, how about young male athletes who fancy being fathers? Someone tell the IOC, some things are even bigger than the Olympics.

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