YORK ON ADS / No 33: Daz

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The Independent Culture
IT COULD be, oh, 1957 in the Daz Challenge - except for certain production values, such as Paul Ross's chunky, 1980s-estate-agent look and the changing nature of front-door designs. We're in a world of pleasant-looking, working-class housewives with children and washing on their minds. These girls will happily open their doors to camera crews who want to engage them in the national debate - which washing powder offers best value and which is the brand in the blanked-out box?

So we know the story: it's a classic commercial, the same vintage as 'Rael-Brook Toplin, the shirt you don't iron'. The big question is how you breathe new life into a format like this without blowing its 'inheritance'.

Casting Danny Baker as the cheeky chappie to Paul Ross's straight man is very clever, not only because his 'personal positioning' is so right - youngish yet credible, and rooted through radio and Great Football Disasters - but because you sense that he knows what he's taking on, the tradition that he's working in. You sense too that, as keeper of the popular-TV folk-memory (Bygones, TV Heroes), he just loves being the Daz man. He instinctively knows how to play it: with an unthreatening kind of implied sauciness, just a hint of a double-take on the whiskery old lines that accompany the pack-shot, and an excellent, spontaneous-feeling 'live freeze' at the end. What a trouper.

For an intellectual got up as a cab driver doing Jeremy Beadle in deus ex machina mode it's a lovely gig - and the money's not bad either. Peter York

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