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UUP's quirky pyjama broadcast a bid to rouse unionism's sleeping voters

By Lindy McDowell

An ordinary looking bloke walking down the street in his pyjamas bumps into a very pretty blonde girl in a sharp suit and killer heels. She invites him in for a coffee...

It's the sort of ordinary, everyday scenario which, I imagine, countless male voters - of all persuasions - will have dreamt about at one time or another.

He's half-foundered, so she sits him down at a table beside a roaring fire with just a couple of cups of coffee and what initially appears to be a heap of cigarette butts between them.

"Am I in some sort of unionist place?" he asks her in the tremulous voice of a man understandably discomfited by the stern features of Sir Edward Carson staring down upon him.

Presumably he hasn't noticed the copious UUP branding on the door, then...

He's been "asleep" for a long, long time, he tells her.

"How's David Trimble getting along as First Minister?"

At this point does your woman do what the rest of us might - phone emergency services and ask for help for someone very obviously suffering from acute amnesia (as one concerned citizen who spotted the film being made actually did)?

Of course she doesn't. It's a party political election broadcast, after all.

Cue then the hard sell.

And actually at this point it's really quite clever. The patter between the two as they discuss who sat down with whom in the OFMDFM down the years is pretty sharp, culminating, as it does, in that final thrust about what happened to Peter Robinson.

"It's complicated..."

For a while you can even take your eyes off that portrait of stern-jawed Sir Edward who, you can't help feeling, has the look about him of a man angered to have been dragged into this sort of party political pyjama drama.

Then Mike Nesbitt sits down...

I won't say Mike ruins it. He's obviously there to drive home the main sales message.

But it does inevitably become a bit more party political broadcast at this point, so that the attention wanders and I, anyway, started to worry about just how close Mike was sitting to that roaring fire.

Surely he was being roasted?

If he was, he gave no sign. Cheery in his electric blue suit (no renewable energy allusion there) the UUP leader reeled off the shocking statistics concerning the RHI bill.

Those strategically placed "cigarette butts" on the table are, of course, wood pellets (who knew the things were so small?).

Whether the pellets, the pyjamas or the political message of the UUP election film will be enough to winkle unionism's Rip Van Winkles out of their torpor and have them heading to the polls "in the time it takes to nip to the shops" remains to be seen.

But one of the few pleasures of an election campaign, for many of us, is critiquing (and, let's be honest, poking fun at) party political broadcasts.

Sadly, mostly they're just one long yawn.

This one? As a wake-up call to the UUP's sleeping voters, it's certainly different.

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