George Parker: Remembering Fay Weldon

Fay Weldon has just died at 91. Even though known as a famous and prolific author who wrote 34 novels, numerous TV dramas, several radio plays, five full-length stage plays, quite a few short ones and five collections of short stories, she was initially a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, London, back in the 60’s and 70’s.

Whilst there she was credited with creating the long-lived and famous campaigns… “Unzip a banana” and “Go to work on an egg.” The latter was one of the most liked and successful TV campaigns of the period. Shot by legendary Director Len Fulford it featured Tony Hancock and Patricia Hayes as his housekeeper whose primary aim in life is to drive Hancock nuts whilst rapsodizing about the wonders of eggs. The slogan lasted until 2007 when the UK’s Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre banned pro-egg ads “for failing to promote a balanced diet.”

Weldon was mightily pissed and told the Daily Mail… “If they are going to ban egg adverts, then I think they should ban all car adverts because cars really are dangerous—and bad for the environment.” It was also rumored that while at Ogilvy she came up with a campaign for a vodka account: “Vodka makes you drunker quicker!” Unsurprisingly this was rejected by her humorless bosses.

She went on to find success as a television writer with the top-rated and long-lasting series “Upstairs, Downstairs,” about relationships between the “Nobs” and their servants. On a final note… Back in the sixties, there used to be a joke… Q: What do you do if your egg won’t start? A: Pull out the yoke! Unfortunately, cars no longer have a choke. Time for my breakfast beer.

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