Mum makes mincemeat of food scares

No 142: BRITISH MEAT
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The Independent Culture
Advertising men are paid to look on the bright side of life. The slender fictions that derive from this imperative are sadly vulnerable to bad news from the real world. So it is with the British Meat ads.The latest in the series is a rather likeable tranche of lower-middle-class adolescent school days - part Grange Hill, part Adrian Mole. It seems oddly nostalgic - safe surburban Seventies - and not at all street. The kids wear school uniform. No rap or computer games.

Our boy - 15/16-ish - has all the usual agonies: spots; shyness with girls; peer-group pressure - shirt in or out of trousers? Hair pushed back or forward? He's constantly out of step. We've seen all this stuff in the American teen films of the Eighties, but it' s particularly well Anglicised and the music is wonderful - a very jangly powerpop version of "Don't Tell Me Your Troubles".

Anyway, this happy little story works through a series of minor miseries - getting the test-tube the wrong colour; swimming in underpants; losing your trainers - to the payoff.This is all about arriving home to the Bypass Variegated three-up-two-down where Mum makes it all better with a cottage pie.

"There you are, someone loves you darling." And half the audience will be hearing alarm-bells as they stare at the steaming mince, that potent symbol of vanished Imperial security. "The recipe for love," it says on screen: "British Meat" (beef).

This series was originally concieved when red meat faced a long-term downturn in sales. It made you fat and it clogged up men's arteries. The trend was to go whiter and lighter - fish and chicken. BSE was just one worry among many, not a national emergency .

At the end of this agreeable commercial there's a crude addition. The kitchen fades to a polystrene tray of raw mince bearing a pathetic-looking rosette - "You'll know your mince is offal-free wherever you see this mark." It's a monumental downer.

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