Jonty takes an intellectual bite of the apple; No 189: Appletise

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I Yield to no man in my admiration for Jonathan 'Jonty' Meades, the thinking man's foodie; his grasp of architectural history; his feeling for Surrey and Belgium, and his way with arcane words and a big suit are all hugely appealing. But is he the man for fizzy drinks?

The makers of Appletise clearly think he could be the next X Files. They've sponsored a series in the style of his BBC programmes for JM to talk about a number of downright mystical questions, concerning apples. They're not alone in this of course; more and more advertisers are yoking big, swirly, soft, X-Filey ideas to modest products of immediate utility to give them a bit of extra brand personality, a bit more meaning. Ambitious, enigmatic, arty direction is part of the job; so, too, now is the use of intellectuals.

So maybe Jonty, with his deserved reputation for singularity and his familiar directorial style - dramatic backgrounds, strange juxtapositions, sinister-looking suburbs - really is the man to help carbonated apple juice compete Tango-style with a somewhat older audience who might feel apple juice was looking a bit tame and hand-knitted for them.

Thus we have Jonathan in a variety of settings like submarines, greenhouses, deserted coastal towns, and Kings Cross. There's a lot of Kings Cross - from the station platforms to the gasometers to the British Library, showing Jonty's architectural interests. It's a clever use of, I suspect, a comparatively modest budget, with Jonty looking pale, substantial and interesting, performing delightful small tricks with a green bottle, and introducing ordinary people who have had sightings of mysterious aromas in everyday places which have upset their labradors.

As we career towards the Millennium, we should all take Jonathan's advice to open a bottle and keep an open mind. If you do see it, don't panic.