Belfast Telegraph

Memorable clips from yesteryear have become compulsive viewing

By Lesley Houston

A love of nostalgia has reignited memories of old locally-made TV ads that once peppered our limited television viewing and left us humming catchy tunes or annoying earworms that refused to be silenced.

A stash of old favourites have resurfaced online, ads that were the backdrop to the '80s and '90s when, with only four channels you didn't flick over to avoid the commercials - you sat through them and took them all in.

Soon you were humming the tunes of the catchiest ads - and even the most annoying were often still better than the programmes.

Who could forget popular grocer, Jim Megaw, of Crazy Prices and Stewarts fame. Now 65 and recently retired from retail consultancy work, Jim admits he was no slick media man.

"It was something that just happened by default and I got in and got on with it and got used to it," he said yesterday.

It all started with the firm's first ever live presentation of a car to a winning shopper during Coronation Street in 1982.

He believes the ads were successful and loved "because we were credible".

"If you said you were doing a competition and giving something away free people actually saw the winner," he said.

The grandfather-of-three took it all in his stride back in his commercial days and still enjoys the odd comic quip from passers-by to this very day. "Sometimes I'll be recognised, even with all the grey hair," he said.

Harp Lager's slick set of ads featured not only time machines but also talking camels. When a man from 3045 arrives in a Belfast bar he's treated with a typical dose of scepticism from the barman.

"Oh I get it; you're from the future, that's your time machine, and I'm Lawrence of Arabia," quips the bartender. "Yeah, and pigs'll fly!"

No sooner are the words uttered than a pig on a plane flies through the pub and a camel puts his head around the door saying: "Hey Lawrence, give us a pint of Harp and a packet of dates."

'So Near So Spar' saw loveable Belfast mammy Olivia Nash send her dutiful husband for a loaf when the cupboard was bare.

"There's no bread Fred," she'd tell him, spawning a generation who loved to churn out the line in their kitchens.

Then there were the public appeal ads which asked us to be patient while we endured the Troubles.

When a UDR man stops a motorist at a checkpoint, he's treated with: "Why don't you go out and catch some terrorists?" While delivered with a comic slant it carried a sombre message.

Another begged us to stop plaguing our local GPs: "Doctor doctor, can I have a prescription?" asked a cartoon man in a strong Belfast accent. He's told: "You don't need a pill for every ill."

Another cult favourite was the culchie of the "great big shappin' centre in Ballymena hey!" fame.

Belfast Telegraph


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