Bright, white and no longer right

Peter York on the demise of the Daz Doorstep Challenge

Him off the telly. At my door. Asking to see my whites. It's you I said. Well it was and it wasn't, he was much smaller/ older/more miserable than he seems on TV. But it was a laugh and I got £20/£200/ £2,000. Mind you I had to say my bit 25 times. Louder, softer. Move to the right, give us a smile, look at Pete/Alan/ Danny/Julian/Shane. And look at the Daz packet.

Him off the telly. At my door. Asking to see my whites. It's you I said. Well it was and it wasn't, he was much smaller/ older/more miserable than he seems on TV. But it was a laugh and I got £20/£200/ £2,000. Mind you I had to say my bit 25 times. Louder, softer. Move to the right, give us a smile, look at Pete/Alan/ Danny/Julian/Shane. And look at the Daz packet.

The Daz Doorstep Challenge, axed last week, has been a beacon of traditional values since God was a boy.

The DDC was always below-stairsish. The ladies who took the challenge were dead ordinary, giggly, a bit flirty, but profoundly decent. And until very recently they were always housewives. They had to be at home, waiting for Shane or Danny to knock (in my mind's eye that door's always right on the street in an archaic back-to-back way). And they were mums. "My little boy's a terror." "My little girl's a tomboy." Their husbands did heroes-of-labour jobs and got their clothes tremendously dirty. Single mums, multiple steps, dual income no kids or two gentlemen sharing had no hope in the Daz world. Like Oxo, which it closely paralleled, Daz celebrated the traditional family.

"Doing Daz" was central to the CVs of a mass of all-round entertainers. Men of the people who were a bit of a laugh, had the common touch, were a bit flirty in a sexless, On the Buses, cheeky chappy way. When Daz slightly flexed the format in the Nineties they got the gays in. Michael Barrymore after he was out, Julian Clary toning it down with lady footballers. And they shot the commercials in public places instead of at the front door.

But the formula remained iron-clad and hard-sell. The demonstration of wonder- ful whiteness, the comparison with lesser brands, the choice of Daz over two packets of anything else. Like its owner, Procter and Gamble of Cincinnati, Ohio, there was never anything ironic about Daz. P&G was always the home of the advertising formula that worked, the Fifties way.

They're having to change now to acknowledge celebrity world and Big Brother world and slapper world. And Footballers' Wives. The world of the new soap stars who go to C-list parties. So, of course, they're going to do a spoof format "Cleaner Close", with elements of EastEnders and Brookside. Still spot-on for Daz values, working-class and ungentrified but updated to allow for big bungalows and sex romps on World of Leather sofas.

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