Save the Shaftesbury One!

According to the business section of The Times, Premier Foods, the Mr Kipling cakes to Campbell’s soup maker, said it expected its “struggling” Hovis bread business to start winning back market share in the second half of the year.

“Premier, which has seen Hovis lose ground to Warburtons and Kingsmill, wants to hark back to the success of the classic ‘Bike Ride’ advert of 1973, in which a small boy pushed a bike laden with bread up a cobbled street.”

This ad is regularly voted the best UK ad ever. Wallow in its nostalgia:

“The ad was directed by Sir Ridley Scott, who went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood with blockbusters including Alien and Blade Runner, and there are rumours in the advertising industry that he has been approached by Premier about becoming involved in September’s relaunch,” said The Times.

Could the bicycling boy make a comeback? It would be a shot in the arm for transport bikes. Sales of butcher’s bikes would rise along with sales of loaves.

The ‘boy’ is now a 49-year old fireman. Carl Barlow was 13 when he appeared in the advert.

Hovis has form when it comes to cycling. Last year it ponied up £1.5m to sponsor the London Freewheel ride. In the 1990s the bread brand supported the National Byway with £500,000.

But the support goes back even further. In 1900, Hovis produced a cycling map series at a scale of 5 miles to 1 inch. The maps were published by G Philip and Son, for the Hovis Bread Flour Co, Macclesfield, Cheshire, and the co-sponsor was the Cycling Components Mfring Co, Birmingham. This series continued for 25+ years.

In 1973, Hovis returned to its roots with the delivery boy – set against Dvorak’s ‘New World’ symphony, rearranged for brass – freewheeling down a cobbled northern hill.

In fact, the ad was shot on Gold Hill of Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Barlow said: “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.”