But then we started to hear awful stories - bigger wife bashing him up and so forth - and felt sorry for him. And now here he is in cat food.
The Arthur commercial - unlike his series for Tesco a few years back - isn't exactly a big production. A white cat called Arthur does the paw- in-a-tin eating trick that had the nation spellbound in 1960-something. Dudley sits in a bentwood chair against a small cafe table - no set, no extras, no nothing - and pitches the copy points, which appear to have been written by someone else.
He's not looking his absolute best. He's wearing the interviewed-in-the- nursing-home kit of Grandad checked-plum dressing gown and mental-hospital- issue pyjamas.
His hair is very disorderly and his voice compounds this odd impression - somewhere between Malcolm Maclaren and a panto dame on 40 Woodbines a day. Have they consciously art-directed him to resonate with all our worries - ie, on his own, not well, down on his luck, etc, etc? This is, after all, a minor master, a national treasure, half of Derek and Clive.
The pitch doesn't amount to much. Arthur's cat food now apparently contains some new oils, called Omega 6+3, to which one might attribute the fabulous condition of his coat. "Perhaps," says Dudley, "I'd benefit from Omega 6+3 oils," as he reaches for a cream horn from the cakestand. "There's bound to be some in here somewhere - cheers". It's most disconcerting.Reuse content