Gary's initial appearance in the Walkers New Cheese and Onion Crisps ad is gloriously consistent with his role in the national psyche. It's his return to Leicester - straight off JAL, one imagines -in black and white, to the swell of "Welcome Home" by Peters and Lee. Men, women and infants greet Gary; he acknowledges them impeccably. It's all absolutely lovely (and much less unlikely than, say, Paul or Cilla returning to Liver-pool with "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey").
But then a little boy offers Gary a (new) Walkers Cheese and Onion Crisp on a park bench, and the screen returns to realistic, cynical colour as Gary crumbles before our eyes. He takes the lot, grabs the bag from the tearful child and walks off. No more Mr Nice Guy.
Walkers have taken a huge risk here. Gentle self-mockery is an established route for bland public figures, from Julie An-drews on, who want to give themselves a bit of an edge. But no such concerns attach to Gary; a second layer of meaning was never required. A great many people of all ages and callings will deeply resent a further blow to their faith.
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