Paul Simons: a timely blast from the past from Tim Bell

Tim Bell was one of a long line of politics commentators talking to BBC News from College Green the other evening. He was on around 7.30, live, approximately 90 minutes after the Chablis is normally opened in the office.

I wasn’t sure if Tim was a little over-served with the Chablis and/or the fact he is 75 this October might be affecting his speech a tad. He started poorly but picked up his mojo after a while irrespective of his mobile ringing three times during the interview.

There are many stories about Lord Bell, many I have heard from the horse’s mouth, and without doubt he is a masterful story teller. His reputation is based on various aspects of his life, most notably his relationship with Margaret Thatcher. In the hurly burly of the crazy world of advertising in the 1970s and ’80s Tim’s antics made him a regular feature in the pages of Private Eye and other scurrilous organs.

I see him from time to time in ‘mufti’ moments at weekends at the Pimlico Green farmer’s market. Also Robin Wight of WCRS fame is a regular. Both are always immaculately dressed unlike me in my jeans, Barbour and gardening sweater.

What I did think after seeing the Bell interview, which did make me smile, is that the UK advertising industry doesn’t have the characters any more like Tim Bell. It has all become too middle ground, neutral colours and safe. Where is the colour, energy and irreverence?

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