The Hard Sell, BBC4

by | Feb 26, 2008 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Watch it. It doesn’t matter how good it was. Watch it and your testicles will swell so large they will be need their own bus stop, or your perfect sugar-coated lips will wear lipstick with the same pouty, shouty poise as Kate Moss. At least that’s what the advertising industry would have you believe because sex sells. Yeah.

What was good about it?

• Yeah. Only the classy nobility of the British establishment were interviewed. This meant the show about the best people in the world, yeah, was commented upon by the very best people in the world. People, yeah, for whom home during their teenage years was a dormitory at a cold boarding school; somewhere where they could play Risk with the real chance that they may one day be invading Africa for real in order to help the native population best exploit their natural oil reserves.

• Yeah. This meant, yeah, we were treated to only the very, yeah, elite of the creative world, yeah. Patrick Burgoyne of The Creative Review may be the upper class version of someone tip-toeing timidly downstairs for a fresh glass of cocoa, but the very fact he’s got a foreign-sounding surname means anything he says is far more insightful than anyone who went to a comprehensive school where they learned only how to muck out pigs, yeah, or to fart silently in the company of their betters.

• The flake advert, yeah, has from the 60s been a prurient example of British prurience, laughing in the face of all those ant-prurients who think that the sight of a woman, yeah, simulating oral sex with a chocolate bar is so very damagingly, yeah, prurient.

• The face Jeremy Langmead, editor of Esquire, may look like the bleak, featureless aftermath of a nuclear holocaust but he made some very, very, very interesting points about the inner workings of the advertising industry, some very interesting points. And the razor sharp sabre of analytical language that he is, yeah, noted at one point that the Calvin Klein underwear advert “worked on two levels”.

• The Nescafe adverts, yeah, genius, yeah. Yeah, so much pathos went into creating the unique set up where a woman becomes, yeah, attracted to a man. Nothing like that had ever been thought of before Nescafe, women and men were thought to be mutually exclusive, yeah, to happily exist in the same world – with women happy to be dumb objects of desire for men – but to stay apart, yeah. It took a monumental imaginative mind, educated privately, to pull off such a leap of creativity and imagination, yeah. And now look – everyone’s at it, yeah, that sex.

• Sam Delaney, yeah, made some fascinating points about the advertising industry, absolutely fascinating, certainly on more than three prurient levels, and did so speaking like the voice of a vicar trying to clear grieving relatives away from the graveside that was being passed through a buzz saw. Fascinating.

• Sir John Hegarty, yeah, was being such a devilsome old lag. He made the absorbing point for the Levi 501 ad featuring the boy taking off his clothes in the laundrette, “We talked about when jeans and rebellion were at their height in the 50s and early 60s.” Yeah, we remember those rebellions, yeah, should the common be allowed to be used by prefects to thrash their first former squirts. Once, a form master even received an elbow to the ribs! Oh, that wonderful insurrectionist spirit sadly spirited away long ago.

• The only member who wasn’t a member of the elite, yeah, was Melanie Sykes. She joyfully recited that old hogwash she’d been fed on the set of the Boddingtons ad that she represented “the empowered woman”. And she still, yeah, believes it. She was included here halfway through simply for creative geniuses to masturbate over if we ever got bored with being told stuff, yeah, that we wrote the book on.

• The Diet Coke ’11.30’ ads are clearly, yeah, the work of some maverick genius who used to pine for her coffee to be delivered to her Latin lesson. For from what other font, yeah, of knowledge could have gushed forth such an imagination that recognised professional women like to see muscular, working class men without their shirts on. It’s completely safe and not in the least bit prurient, as there’s absolutely no chance of breeding. There are rules to prevent it.

• Gregg Wallace, the stoical, oaken battering ram of Masterchef, noted that Cointreau “is a nice drink and it is a sexy drink”. Mmm, yeah, that, mmm, black sparking liquid gets the ardour up of any self-respecting aristocrat. And those ads, yeah, more creative juices flowing there – an Englishwoman and a Frenchman have a passionate liaison. Genius, yeah, genius – that sort of thing hasn’t happened since William the Conqueror’s time.

• Dylan Jones, editor of GQ, a man so manly he could man the manboats that swing loose and flapping, man, like a pair of wizened pair of manly testicles in the trousers of Man Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He’s the man, and what a man, man!

• Yeah, it was sagely noted that the 90s, yeah, saw the “rise of lad culture and the Loaded generation”. Of course it did, yeah. Only, the creative geniuses who made those ads weren’t reacting to the ‘Loaded generation’ and catering for their needs but instead saw it as a way of ushering the swine into their easily distinctive pens so their ads could be more tailored individually to that, yeah, distinct audience.

• Scummy football fans who masturbate over ‘Jordan’s seXiest eva pix!’ – here’s your Lynx ad! Courting couples who buy their feelings ‘Three 4 the price of 2!” at Ikea, here’s your dangerous Haagen Dazs ad of lovers having sex! Men with haircuts based on Noel Gallagher quotes and who have their predilections and choices stamped into their eyeballs each morning by Chris Moyles, here’s your Kylie Minogue on a bucking bronco Agent Provocateur commercial! Women who drill holes in their cheeks to make them more pronounced and to also drag out their souls kicking and screaming, and then toss it over Kate Moss like a blanket in the hope of possessing her body and living out their celebrity lifestyle fantasies

What was bad about it?

• The worst thing about it, yeah, is that your eyes are lumbering across this wastrel’s wasteland when they could be gazing upon the programme. If you must journey to the BBC TV centre and gouge out your eyes with a spoon and throw them in the approximate direction of BBC4 (you’ll recognised by the choking fumes of pretentiousness leaking from the windows). Or better still swallow the programme whole in one viewing through your eyes (don’t worry it tastes of basted Michael Grade washed down with Clarkson Vin 1741) and leave it until it starts devouring you from the inside.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


Follow us:

Our Latest Posts:

351: 2022: The year so far.

351: 2022: The year so far.

Luke joins Matt to look at the first seven months of the year including discussions on Sherwood, Barry and The Responder. Listen to "# 351: 2022: The mid-year report"...

Borgen proves TV revivals can work.

Borgen proves TV revivals can work.

Borgen is the best political series on television. It's not an area television drama dabbles in that often. There's the original House of Cards and the Netflix version...


Submit a Comment