The first ad on television

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The Independent Online
Advertising history was made at 9.01pm on 22 September 1955, when Britain's first television commercial squeezed on to the air. Made by AB-Pathe, it was a 70-second ad for Gibbs SR Toothpaste. The company's cinema ads had first used slides and then the comedian Arthur Askey to sell its wares. But there were no jokes in the black-and-white dental epic that hit television screens that night.

(Exterior, snowy riverbank. Water gurgles.) Voice-over, male, authoritative: "It's tingling fresh. It's fresh as ice." (Pan right to running water and block of ice containing toothpaste tube frozen in mid-squeeze on to brush.) "It's Gibbs SR Toothpaste, the tingling fresh toothpaste that does your gums good, too." (Close in on head of brush and top of tube.) "The tingle you get when you brush with SR is much more than a nice taste - it's a tingle of health." (Ice block disappears and thawed tube starts squeezing out toothpaste on to bristles again.) "It tells you something very important."

(Cut to woman's face, brushing teeth very theatrically.) "You're doing your gums good and toughening them to resist infection." (Woman gives big smile. Cut to diagram, a grid with large squares.) "And as this chart shows" (under heading "Gum Infection", a bar appears made up of four unspecified squares - cases of rotten incisors per 100 head of population?) "gum infection is the cause of more tooth loss than tooth decay itself." (Under "Tooth Decay", a bar of two unspecified squares: two fillings per 1,000 grains of sugar?)

(Cut to hand grasping tweezers dipping small lump - extracted molar? - in a glass container. Next to this hi-tech egg-cup is a bottle labelled Sodium Ricinoleate Solution.) "The tingle in SR comes from Sodium Ricinoleate, the substance which both dental research and years of use in dental routine have shown to be good for the gums. So," (camera pans to Gibbs SR box) "to keep your teeth white as snow, your gums really healthy" (close-up on end of box, which opens by itself to allow toothpaste tube to poke out) "and your breath really fresh, see your dentist regularly" (small lumps of ice materialise round box) "and brush with SR, the tingling fresh toothpaste for teeth and gums - GIBBS SR!" (Hold on ice-bound box until next commercial is running).

JS

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