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George Parker: Wicker Man director Robin Hardy, McVitie’s biscuits and me

Just three days ago I was writing about the death of Mike Cimino, a director I worked with in the sixties who went on to direct, multi Oscar winner, The Deer Hunter, before imploding in a giant cloud of hubris.

Now there’s news of the death of Robin Hardy, a director I worked with many times in the 70’s. Robin, one of the nicest guys I ever collaborated with, unlike Mike, who was an absolute prick, became famous for writing and directing The Wicker Man, a box office failure at the time that then went on to become a cult classic.

In fact, Christopher Lee, who appeared in a gazillion movies, said that his role as Lord Summerisle (below), was the best part he had ever played. I had the pleasure of working with Robin after I moved back to London from New York to be the “Agency Fireman” at Dorland’s. Together we managed to pull off what at the time was the most expensive production ever (this was long before Apple’s 1984.) The nine week shoot for McVitie’s Biscuits rambled through most of the Caribbean and South America in an attempt to illustrate why “McVitie’s Bake a Better Biscuit.” Thus assuaging the guilt of Britain’s Mums as they shoved Chocolate Digestives down the pie-holes of their screaming children in an attempt to shut them up whilst they readied the dinner time beans on toast.


Some of the highlights of the nine week saga, the crew (including me) nearly drowning in a plane crash in Tobago. Me being marooned in a shit hole for a week up the Orinoco and the entire crew being taken off a plane at Caracas airport at gunpoint. All the gory details are in Confessions of a Mad Man. Fuck, you can’t do shit like that with data.

Robin’s production company was Hardy Shaffer and, like most production companies back in those days was fuelled by Champagne in the morning, Claret at lunch and the hard shit in the evening. Tony Shaffer went on to write Sleuth and gain a reputation as one of Britain’s most active cocksmen. Having married three times, including Diane Cilento, when he died in 2001, there was a feeding frenzy of claims by ex and active mistresses over his estate. What a guy. You can’t do that with data, either.

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About George Parker

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award.
His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.
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