Peter York On Ads: Smart, clever, grown-up and ideal for a cheapskate

FREE FILMFOUR

I'm a multi-channel home. That's what they call them in those media analysts' reports, as in "viewing of ITV drama falls precipitously in multi-channel homes". We multi-channel homes are the essence of the modern demotic lifestyle. We're in Kelvin MacKenzie territory with a Jade Goody mindset. We watch what we like unfettered. Richard Hoggart can't stop us.

The Sky Plus EPG (we multi-channel homes like the occasional tech-sounding term), easy recording and pausing of about a million channels, is clever and it does give you more choice. In practice, I've ended up with a repertoire of about 20 channels additional to the five terrestrial ones, including, in my case, the digital sidekicks of the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV.

But even that's quintupling the free-to-air (more media wonk language) offer. And there's always the thought that you might cut loose and spend an evening watching the Nigerian answer to Home and Away on BEN African TV, or another day on film star profiles on the Biography channel. I don't know the half of it yet.

As it is, I like Living TV; the old British funnies on UKT; Discovery Home & Health and its marvellous freak-show stuff ("I had a 12-stone tumour", "The man with two heads"); the various newses (those wonderful US news presenter two-ups with their terrific clothes, dentistry and diction, and the whole "I'm Ed Winchester" tradition, constantly parodied here, but never properly captured).

There's notionally a fair bit of dedicated arts stranding but I'd prefer to get that from the BBC and Melvyn. I don't want the food and the housey-housey stuff (print does it miles better). Above all, I don't actually want the Big films or the Big sport, which is why most people have multi-channel and where the revenue comes from. I'm not interested in sport, I don't want the airline movie selection and I'm a cheapskate.

With one exception: I've often thought about FilmFour. More my sort of film. More cult and kinky and kitschy. More Brit. More old stuff. More of a London package. But I didn't want to pay. But now it's free, according to C4's new commercial. It's a great 65-second affair, looking just like a smart spoof of one of those epic 1980s privatisation ads (British Gas's "Tell Sid" especially). There are stars and locations and insistent music, there's a big theme colour - red - and all the one-nation tie and tropes of the form.

It starts in Trafalgar Square in the rain, the National Gallery's weedy pepper-pots behind. Little shards of red in long-shot and some muffled shouting about Free FilmFour. Then we go into star-spotting. There's Rhys Ifans - he's filled out nicely since Notting Hill, all those dinners at The Ivy and Nobu - peddling Free FilmFour on an estate of little 1970s houses with B&Q front doors. Not a hope, not a tickle - they're all slamming on him, implying, that FilmFour is altogether more a Camden Town taste.

There are blokes up ladders with hard hats putting up a poster, asking what it means and should they have it.

There's Hollywood-Chinese actress Lucy Lui in a propeller plane above, dragging an upside-down banner, shouting at the crowds through a megaphone (it's probably a filmic reference but I don't get it).

Back in Trafalgar Square the red shards resolve themselves as Judi Dench and Ewan McGregor on the steps, dressed up as a crab and a tomato, busking for Free FilmFour.

Ewan's asking why he has to be a tomato - "Am I a fruit or a vegetable?... I don't know." It's the question for leading men everywhere.

Dame Judi says: "That's the mystery of you." And in those two lines we go to the very heart of thespdom and its torments.

There's someone else - probably someone famous - setting off alarms in a suburban office car park; there's a botched poster and a poignant interchange between Denis Leary and Mackenzie Crook - both FilmFour types - to take us up to the driving, insistent, blood-red final three frames FILM / FOUR / FREE, set to those big 1970s guitar riffs.

Apparently Free FilmFour's coming next Sunday - 23 July. It's smart, it's clever, it's tremendously grown-up and it's just what I've always wanted.

Peter@sru.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living