Decades on, the Mail gets them to recreate those much-loved commercials
By Anna Behrmann
Star Wars was all the rage when Robbie Humphries became the Milkybar Kid in 1982.
In this space-themed advert, he clasps Milkybars while dressed as an astronaut.
He now runs the Walk Tall theatre company, which is linked to a mental health charity with the same name in Kent. In the five years he was the Milkybar Kid, Robbie earned £5,000 and bought his brother a Mongoose BMX bicycle — all the rage at the time. Robbie, who was at Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, landed the role at ten. ‘It was a happy reign,’ he recalls. ‘You’re driven around in flash cars and eating in restaurants after a day’s work and it’s a fantastic life for a child. I spent one day filming in a park suspended 100ft in the air on a crane.Robbie, now 45, made appearances at fetes as well as starring in the TV adverts.
‘It kept dropping me down and I was hoping I’d done the right kind of faces as I landed among a bunch of children, all cheering that the Milkybar kid had arrived from Mars on a jet pack.’
Robbie was born with a kidney condition which means he has had two kidney transplants.
Ribena boy who became an earl
In this 1962 advert, Tim Bentinck plays a boy who sips on his daily glass of Ribena. Before this, he got out of bed early, pretended to shave using his father’s razor and rode his bike through a huge puddle in the rain.
The voice-over says ‘early to rise, early to bed makes a man’ — before it talks of the health benefits of Ribena.
Tim, 64, who now plays David Archer in The Archers and is the 12th Earl of Portland, was nine when he made the advert. He got the job because his late father, Henry Bentinck, the 11th Earl, directed the ad for the former advertising company J. Walter Thompson. The Norfolk fire brigade provided the rain.
The advert was filmed at the home of some family friends in Norfolk. Tim became such good pals with a son in the family that they were best man at each other’s weddings.
Tim was paid £35 for his day’s work and was chaperoned by a secretary.
He tells the story of the Ribena ad in his autobiography, Being David Archer: And Other Unusual Ways of Earning A Living, out on October 5.
Fairy’s girl who behaved very badly
It’s 1964 and a young child is staring up at her mother in wonder as she is washing up with ‘mild green’ Fairy Liquid.
Earlier in the ad, the child had cheekily been playing skittles with Fairy Liquid bottles, lining them up and knocking them down, before her mum asks for one of the bottles to do the dishes.
Actress Leslie Ash, now 57, was just four when she first appeared on TV in the Fairy Liquid ad — and it clearly suited her as she went on to star in six series of the BBC comedy Men Behaving Badly, as well as Mersey Beat and Holby City.
‘I enjoyed being the centre of attention and making people laugh on set, and the whole thing of having my hair done and being taken out to buy clothes.’
She remembers thinking the actress playing her screen mum was ‘quite stern, not like my mum was, but she had this really nice perfume on’. Leslie’s parents were friends with a producer, which is how she thinks she got the part. This early TV stardom set her on a path to the prestigious Italia Conti stage school in London, and she never looked back.
After working as a fashion model for teen magazines, Leslie’s acting career took off with the 1979 film Quadrophenia before she became a household name with Men Behaving Badly in the Nineties.
Sofa so good for Yellow Pages lad
This heartwarming 1992 Christmas ad features a little boy trying to kiss a taller girl holding mistletoe.
He finds a Yellow Pages directory, stands on it, and plants his Yuletide kiss.
Dean Cook, now 32, filmed the advert aged seven after his mum signed him up to a theatre agency because he liked karaoke. The whole process took a day.
‘I think we must have kissed 30 or 35 times,’ he says. ‘It was quite daunting as a young boy to go up and kiss a girl in front of all these people. People still ask if I was the Yellow Pages boy. I get a bit sheepish when I talk about it, but it’s a lovely memory.’
Dean, who now owns upholstery business Taylor and Cook, can’t recall how much he was paid, but thinks his mum bought him a computer.
Stood up by her teenage date outside the cinema, a girl tearfully returns home chilled to the bone. She’s revived by a cup of mum’s hot Bovril, and consoles herself by saying: ‘He’s got big ears anyway.’
Sally Thomsett, now 67, was 22 when she filmed this fondly remembered 1972 advert, though she looked much younger. Two years earlier, she had starred in The Railway Children, playing the 11-year-old little sister of Jenny Agutter’s heroine Bobbie. After the advert came out, men on building sites would shout: ‘Never mind love, he had big ears anyway.’
Sally can’t recall how much she was paid or what she spent the money on, but she thinks it was probably a car. ‘I used to spend most of my money on property and cars and more on cars than property, unfortunately,’ she says.
Sally’s relief on being in front of the fire in the last scene was genuine — the director had made her stand outside in the snow.
She said: ‘It actually was Bovril, but somebody had put a great big slug of brandy in it to warm me up.’
The Bovril advert proved lucky for Sally. It led to her being cast as Jo in Man About The House, a hugely popular ITV comedy series that ran for three years.
Styling: Lorna Ainger and Lucy Hooper.