History behind memorable Scottish TV adverts

From Scots comedian Gregor Fisher as Baldy Man to Better Together’s ‘Patronising Lady’ we take a look at some of the most memorable Scottish television adverts over the past 30 years.

The Better Together advert was heavily criticisedat the time.
The Better Together advert was heavily criticisedat the time.

S1jobs schoolboys taunt ice cream van man 2001

Who knew an advert about two young boys tormenting an ice-cream seller would prove so iconic?

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But it has, and as well as topping several best advert polls over the past 14 years, remains to a generation of Scots one of the most quotable adverts - “just a penny chew then mister!”

The S1 jobs advert was on TV in 2001

Kevin Quinn, 29, starred in the S1 jobs advert in 2001 along with younger brother Jamie.

He remembers: “We ended up doing the advert after we attended a local youth theatre in Airdrie. One of the teachers at the youth there was an actor who had appeared in an HEBS advert and a small role in a film with Ian Holm and Tom Sizemore - I was amazed that a guy from Cabridgecould be on TV and actually BE an actor and so I asked him how I went about it, he then put me in touch with a talent agent in Glasgow.

“We filmed it in Robroyston, a housing scheme in Glasgow. I remember we began filming very early morning and a group of kids were heading to school but decided instead to dog it and shout abuse at us for the remainder of the day.

“There was also constant whispers by passing people, “whit they filming? Is it Taggart?” must have been uttered at least 20-30 times.

The housewife of the Better Together television advert

“I was overwhelmed at how much work technically went into filming; different shots, lighting, the repetitiveness of take after take, and couldn’t believe how long the working day could be. It was pretty cool though.

“I didn’t really change my life a great deal, well I suppose it did as it made me pursue acting as a career, but it wasn’t like fame or anything. Some kids would wind me up a bit at school but it was always light hearted and in good humour.

“I noticed very quickly though that the advert was incredibly popular and a lot of people would compliment me and quote it once they were made aware that I was in it... that’s the funny thing, I never really got recognised from it in the street, even on occasions when we were out together in public people would always recognise Jamie but not me, even as I stood right next to him, it was very strange.

“I always get a bit embarrassed talking about it as i was so young but people still say very kind things about it to this day. They quote it and are very nostalgic about it. I honestly never imagined it would be as popular as it was and never thought people would still remember it 14 year later... It’s crazy!

Gregor Fisher as 'The Baldy Man'

“By complete coincidence I also did another advert for s1jobs last year, which had over a million hits on youtube.”

Better Together campaign vid ‘The woman who made up her mind’ 2014

A campaign ad to promote keeping Scotland as part of the UK and aimed at the ‘undecided women’ vote went viral in 2014 - for all the wrong reasons.

Branded ‘sexist’ and ‘out-of-touch’ by critics, the short film features a woman sitting in the kitchen lamenting her off-screen husband “Paul”, who keeps going on about the independence campaign, while she struggles to keep up.

The 'Scottish Widow' helped the company rise to the top of its field.

The ad, ‘The woman who made up her mind’, aired on the BBC and STV and was derided by people on both sides of the indy debate, spawning hundreds of spoof memes.

Even Scottish celebrities got in on the act, with Franz Ferdinand front man Alex Kapronis joking on Twitter: “Just watched the #patronisingBTLady video. Such naturalistic dialogue. Did Mike Leigh direct it? No, too good: must have been a woman surely.”

Scots actor Martin Compston added: “Vote no and be done with this silliness get back to the dishes let the husbands at Westminster get on with making decisions #eatyourcereal.”

Baldy Man, Hamlet cigars 1989

Still considered one of the funniest adverts of all time, and once voted Ad of the Century by a special jury at Cannes no less, Baldy Man’s exploits in a photobooth proved a huge success for Hamlet cigars in 1989.

Rab C Nesbitt comedian Gregor Fisher had audiences in stitches, thanks to his comical comb-over and portrayal of that the familiar feeling that a photo booth camera always captures you when you are least expecting it.

Created by Collett Dickenson Pearce, the ad ends with Fisher’s chair collapsing with only his bald head left visible with a puff of smoke rising above it.

Ford Capri Mark 2, 1970s.

As Ford tells us in this 1970s iconic ad, Sir Jackie Stewart ‘knows a bit about cars’.

Set to a cheesy 70s soundtrack, the Formula one Scots legend is seen endorsing the new Ford Capri mark 2 alongside his wife.

“It’s got a new rear door that makes loading easy. There are new reclining front seats and a choice of proven engines, you’ll never want to get out of the driving seat,” he tells a captivated audience.

The Scottish Widow ad campaign - 1986 - present

The Scottish Widow first appeared in a television advert in 1986, directed by the legendary David Bailey and there’s no doubt the iconic ad campaign pushed the company to the top of its game.

Four women have taken on the part of the sultry, hooded beauty - although none of them are Scottish.

Perhaps most famously came Amanda Lamb who took over the role in 1994 for more than ten years.

Lamb went on to present television shows A Place in the Sun and You Deserve This House.

Deborah Moore, Hayley Hunt and Amber Martinez have also played the part since the ads started nearly 30 years ago.