Television: Fun on the back of a cow

PETER YORK ON ADS NO 251: AMBROSIA
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The Independent Culture
Time was, Ambrosia Creamed Rice was sold straight on TV, with all the flair that attended the presentation of early butter, bread, cheese and any other basic branded foods that could claim the remotest relationship to cows or farmers, that is, zero. But you can't do that any more. People have been to the country. They know what a terrifying place it is. You have to tech it up - the computer-generated dancing cows - or fun it up.

So Ambrosia has gone into a big production number, based - and this really is brilliant simplicity - on the Village People's "Go West". What can't you do with a Village People tune?

And such a lovely setting: a Victorian terminus - it should be Paddington of course - with a grim crowd debouching from a grim InterCity 125 in black-and-white.

But then, centre-stage, in colour like a comic turn for the Countryside Alliance, we have a country person in tweeds and a flat cap, riding on a Jersey cow, leading the chorus with "Go West where the weather's nice. Go West, where they make creamed rice. Go West where they say, Ooh Arh. Go West, where the sheep go Baa."

He bears a strong resemblance to the earlier Eric Sykes, and he's got dramatically incompetent hand signals.

But there's more. He rides the cow into green pastures and over the hill comes an exultant opera chorus, doing "Ooh arh, it's Ambrosia." It's ridiculous throughout.

This is Ambrosia elevating itself to the status of a national treasure by reworking its traditional pitch in a style that's way beyond ironic.

It takes a lot to write lyrics like that. It takes a lot to pitch an idea like that at a traditionally conservative kind of client. And it probably takes a lot for the client to buy into this lovely nonsense. I think it'll shift shedloads of the stuff.

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