Top 10 beer adverts on the telly

Written by nick redfern
Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Cheers! (Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Beer, eh? Yep, us Brits love it! In fact, we love it so much let's celebrate it in capitals: BEER! But, there's something else we love, too: the ale-themed telly adverts that have, for years, kept us all entertained and smiling. Melanie Sykes, Lionel Blair, a posh bit of totty, a man in black, and a performing bear have all helped to fly the flag of the nation's favourite drink. Let's all raise a glass (a pint glass, of course), and give a big round of applause to the Top 10, beer-based adverts of all time.

Check out the "boddy" on that!

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Making beer sexy (Stuart Wilson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

No-one, of a certain age, will ever forget those immortal words: "Ere, Tarquin, are your trollies ont' right way round?" They were uttered by the delightful and delicious Miss Melanie Sykes, who, from 1996 to 1999, brought Boddingtons Bitter to a whole new market. Before that it was comedian Frankie Howerd and the catchphrase: "If you don't get Boddies, you'll just get bitter." Nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with Frankie. But, neither could compete with the goddess from the north. The nation embraced Mel, sales of Boddingtons soared, and a series of classic ads were born.

From Harp to hair-raising

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Lionel and lager (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

With a career in show-business spanning more than sixty years, 80 year old Lionel Blair is, perhaps, best known for his countless appearances on ITV's Give Us A Clue, which ran from 1979 to 1992. But, back in 1990, the man who also starred alongside the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night, was the champion of Harp Lager. In an amusing ad that gently poked fun at his trademark wavy hairstyle, Lionel was transformed into a spiky-haired, slightly punkish-looking character. And, as a result, Lionel - and Harp - gave us a fun beer commercial that will never be forgotten.

Beer and a babe

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Vicki makes Harp a winner (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Lionel Blair was not the only person to advertise Harp Lager on the telly. Also on board was actress Vicki Michelle, most memorably known for her portrayal of sexy waitress Yvette in the BBC's Second World War-themed 'Allo, 'Allo! series. Vicki was also a glamour model. Could it possibly get any better than that: a hot actress, an equally hot wartime waitress, pin-up pictures and lager? No, it could not! Which is why we salute Vicki - who is now a proud MBE - and her many charms that helped make Harp Lager a winner.

When George ruled the pubs

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Bear facts and beer (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Coming across like a combination of some genial, Cockney geezer and yer average pub-punter, George the bear was the 1980s mascot for Hofmeister. With his mates in-tow, George - dressed in old-school, gangster-style hat and brightly-colored jacket - would hit the bars and get the ale down his neck, while his friends looked on in admiration. Embracing the "lads out on the town on a Friday night" approach, George - not unlike an animal equivalent of Happy Days' the Fonz - instantly appealed to young lager lovers everywhere. George is now long gone, but his telly antics are not forgotten.

Barring the bore

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Turn it off! (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

We've all seen them: the annoying person who just can't stop nattering on his mobile phone, even when he's supposed to be enjoying himself with his mates down the boozer. Well, back in 2006, John Smith's had enough of it, too. In an ad designed for the over-50s,, such a customer is looked on with disapproving eyes - particularly so when he loudly tries to go into "hands-free" mode. The landlord picks up his own phone and yells: "You're barred!" As for the voice-over, it was to the point: "No bleeping gadgets. No nonsense. John Smith's."

Beer goes backwards

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Good things come from Guinness (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

One of the finest of all UK beer ads was Guinness' masterpiece of 2005. It starts with a bunch of blokes standing at the bar and supping on their pints when something strange happens. Time goes into reverse and we're taken on a quick trip through the Middle-Ages, the Ice-Age, the era of the dinosaurs, and, finally, to the dawn of time when a disgusted lizard is fuming due to the fact that he only has dirty river-water to drink. But, as Guinness notes in its ad: "Good things come to those who wait." Yes, it does! Lizards, aside.

Heineken: Knowarramean?

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Down yer neck, darlin'! (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

It's as funny today as it was when it first surfaced back in the 1980s. It's Heineken's homage to My Fair Lady. Picture the scene: a posh bird is being taught to say in broad Cockney tones: "The water in Majorca don't taste like what it oughta." But, her plummy voice just can't manage it. That is, at least, until she takes a couple of swigs out of a can of Heineken and it's suddenly all apples and pairs, me old China, and Gorblimey, Guv! As we're told: "Heineken refreshes the parts wot other beers cannot reach."

A legendary label

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Carling delivered the goods (Bruno Vincent/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Without doubt, Carling Black Label became one of the most popular lagers in the UK during the late 1970s and 1980s. Far more than a part of that popularity was due to the success of a memorable ad-campaign, which always ended with: "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label." Take the one where a couple of airline-passengers are flying high and spot a window-cleaner who comes along - at thousands of feet - to give the plane's windows a polish. Outside! Cue those legendary seven-words from one, to which the other replies: "Nah, he's missed a bit." Classic!

That's the beer!

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Lots of cheer! (Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If there's one thing that defines a successful TV advert, it's when people remember it. Even decades after it surfaced. In terms of British beer commercials, that acolade has to go to Davenport's, who told us: "Beer at home means Daveport's. That's the beer! Lots of cheer!" It was a simple song, but one that, once you've heard it, you'll never, ever forget. Go on, try it. Click on a certain, famous search-engine, type in those words above, and listen to what pops up. You'll find the old ditty swirling around your heads for days, if not weeks. Cheers!

Marketing from a man in black

Top 10 beer adverts on the telly
Guinness goes cool (Kane Hibberd/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

We couldn't let you go without one more visit to the world of Guinness. Seen by many in the 1980s as an oldies' beverage, in 1987 the dark stuff got a shot of coolness in the arm when actor Rutger Hauer became its new face and voice. Invariably appearing on-screen dressed in black and in shadowy and surreal situations, Hauer played a mysterious yet engaging character chosen to bring Guinness to a whole new generation that, normally, never budged from its faithful lager. And Hauer did it very well for seven, entertaining years. Guinness became golden.

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