Ridley Scott's Hovis advert is voted all-time favourite

It was an instant advertising classic. A small boy pushes a bike laden with loaves of bread up the cobbled street of a northern town to the strains of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony, arranged for brass band. Now the 1973 commercial for Hovis, directed by Ridley Scott, has been voted the favourite advertisement of all time.

To mark the bread manufacturer's 120th anniversary this year, the commercial will return to British television screens for a 10-day run from 10 May.

In a poll of 1,000 people, the Hovis commercial was deemed more popular than classic ads for Milk Tray, Ferrero Rocher and Bisto.

Now one of Hollywood's leading directors, who made Gladiator, Alien and Thelma and Louise, Scott began his career as a director of commercials.

He directed a series of adverts for Hovis, including "Bike Ride" in 1973. Contrary to popular belief, the commercial was not filmed in the north of England, but on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset, which has become a tourist attraction.

The original boy on the bike, Carl Barlow, then 13, is now a 46-year-old firefighter.

He said: "Working with Ridley Scott at such a young age was a privilege, although at the time, he hadn't made his break into the epic films he is now best known for.

"It was pure fate that I got the part as the Hovis boy. I was down to the last three, and it turned out that one of the two boys couldn't ride a bike, and the other wouldn't cut his hair into the pudding bowl style - it was the Seventies after all. As the only boy who could ride a bike and would cut his hair, I got the part." Bill Maynard, who played the baker, later starred in the ITV shows Heartbeat and The Royal.

Dvorak's "New World" Symphony, inspired by the discovery of the Americas, has become so closely associated with the brand that Classic FM regularly receives requests for the "Hovis music".

Hovis's marketing controller Scott Clarke, said: "It's fantastically evocative and the music is iconic. The whole 120th anniversary is about celebrating brown bread. Consumers are concerned about health and it's about trying to get that message across."

The original Hovis wheatgerm loaf was developed in 1886 by Richard Stoney Smith. An early advertisement featured a man with muscles made from Hovis loaves, with the slogan: "Hovis bread and biscuits form good bone, brain, flesh and muscle".

Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers, stars of The Good Life, appeared in advertisements for the brand in the 1980s and more recently the Oscar-winning Aardman Animations has created commercials for the packaged bread.

From its outset, the brand has had an eye for a PR opportunity. When it was launched, a nationwide competition was held to find an appropriate name. A London student, Herbert Grimes, came up with the winning moniker, a shortened version of the Latin phrase Hominis Vis, meaning "Strength of Man".

A free exhibition marking Hovis's 120-year history is being held at the United Grand Lodge in London from 11 to 13 May.

The top ads


Nostalgia-laden scenes of cobbled street with brass-band backing. Polled 32.4 per cent


Box of chocolates arrives courtesy of stranger in polo-neck who abseils through the bedroom window. Why? Because "the lady loves Milk Tray". 17.9 per cent


If parody is the sincerest form of flattery, this takes the prize. A butler roams an ambassador's party bearing a tray of the hazelnut treats. "Monsieur, you're really spoiling us," says one guest in mock protest. 12.2 per cent

Honourable mentions

Bisto kids - the perfect nuclear family sit down to Sunday lunch with the visible waft from the gravy boat.

Guinness - another glass from the stout brewer, this time a seaside location with thoroughbred horses racing in slow-motion through the surf. Shot in trademark black and white.

Budweiser - After frogs, the gekko has become the new face of the American brew. Ill-tempered conversation between the two lizards takes place in front of a neon lit bar.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...


£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform