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Hovis 'Boy-on-the-bike'

Known as the ‘Hovis Boy-on-the-bike’, it is reckoned to be one of the most iconic and heart warming advertisements ever made. Despite its northern styled voice over and brass band soundtrack, this masterpiece was filmed in Dorset – at Gold Hill, Shaftesbury.

First aired in 1973, it featured a young lad pushing his bicycle laden with loaves of bread up the steep cobblestoned hill. After making delivery, he mischievously freewheels back down Gold Hill. Director Sir Ridley Scott combined the strains of the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak with one of the most romantic and picturesque views in England. While the music was already well-known, it became even more familiar after the advert.

After beginning his career making commercials, Sir Ridley Scott became a leading Hollywood director. His films include Gladiators, Alien and Thelma & Louise. He once remarked:

‘You combine the appropriate music with the appropriate picture and you’ve got lift off.’

Carl Barlow was the young boy in the advert. Although he attended drama school, he gave up acting and became a fireman in the London Fire Brigade.

Five years later, comedian Ronnie Barker was featured in a parody of the Hovis bike boy advert. He played an exhausted elderly man struggling up Gold Hill carrying just a single loaf. Seemingly, the poor old man never reaches the top.

(Images: Ronnie Barker [above] struggles up Gold Hill but Carl Barlow freewheels down.)


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