In her new commercials for McVities Riva she presents in a number of safe guises - "shopper" or "housewife" - looking like a church-going cross between Lily Savage and Knot's Landing, but the brutish sexual sub- text cannot be suppressed. Like many psychopaths she can easily assume an air of pious gentility, and never more so when talking about Riva, which appears to be a chocolate-covered-wafer-biscuit affair in the Kit Kat mode. It's "really lovely" she says in her beautiful-funeral-lovely- flowers voice.
Indeed the motif of these ads is that new sweetmeat offers such an oasis in her ghastly Mike Leigh life - "a Riva Breather" - that she's momentarily distracted from alienated sexual triumphalism. But she's still flirting - "enjoying the view" of a waiter's rear, teasing a plumber, giving herself "a little bit of pleasure". It's all very oral, as in "get your laughing tackle around this one", "delight your gob", or "I would love a nibble".
It's an interesting instance of the new comedy culture with its sexual and demographic references imported into a familiar-formula commercial for a chocolate biscuit. It observes the rules of traditional narra- tive, product shot (the chocolate laps over the biscuit in Viennetta- style whorls), conventional kitchen setting and pack-shot. And it's mercifully free of surrealist moments.
But it is on-trend in one major way. Time was when the only cross-dresser in TV commercials was Dame Edna. Now all the boys are at it.