Discovering Britains Most Favourite TV Advert Ever

Shaftesbury Dorset

What’s the best TV advert ever? Too many to choose from? Can’t remember any that you liked, or just don’t want to remember perhaps? I admit that most TV adverts are either annoying or ridiculous and instantly forgettable but there have been a few over the years that have stuck in our minds and become almost ‘popular‘.

Now we didn’t set out on some sort of bizarre ‘advert crusade‘ where we scoured the land locating locations where classic ads had been shot, although now that I’ve mentioned it that does sound intriguing. What happened was …… I’ll come to that in a moment.

Our latest house-sit was in Tisbury, Wiltshire and with the kind offer of using our hosts car we decided one morning to head out somewhere we had never been before. A quick check of the map and we decided on the nearby town of Shaftesbury in the adjoining county of Dorset. It sounded quite nice, typically English, so we set off on the 30 minute drive.

Shaftesbury, Dorset

Another day another county and if we had one of those scratch-it-off how-many-have-we-visited county maps we would be scratching off yet another area to almost complete a clean sweep of all 48 English counties. Haven’t checked properly but I think we have around 5 left to visit. Someone asked me the other what constitutes saying you had visited somewhere and I think that you should have stopped somewhere to eat or drink in order for it to count. I don’t mean a motorway service station either. A restaurant or a pub or a coffee shop, something like that.

England County Map

How many have you visited?

The more we think about English counties the more we really want to visit every single one. the more we have travelled overseas the more we feel it’s important to seriously see all of our own country.

Historic Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury was founded by King Alfred the Great in 880 and has a rich history surrounding the abbey and links to many Kings since then including Edward the Confessor, King Canute, King Stephen, and Richard II. My favourite royal fact though is that in 1035 the King of England, Denmark and Norway died in Shaftesbury. His name was Cnut the Great. Brilliant.

Shaftesbury Dorset

The World Famous TV Ad

So what’s with all the TV advert stuff you may ask? Well as we wandered through the quaint middle English streets of Shaftesbury we arrived at the top of Gold Hill. A seriously steep cobblestoned hill winding down from the town. At the top of the hill there is a museum in which the story of Shaftesburys main claim to fame can be discovered.

Shaftesbury Dorset

In 1973 the bread-making company Hovis filmed an advert here called ‘Boy on the Bike‘. Directed by Ridley Scott, who would go on to make Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator, the ad featured a young lad pushing his bike up a steep hill to deliver a loaf of Hovis bread. Accompanied by DvoraksSymphony Number 9‘ it quickly became part of British culture and the most famous advert of its day.

Shaftesbury Dorset

Shaftesbury Dorset

Shaftesbury Dorset

We had always assumed, and I’m sure the majority of others did the same, that it had been filmed somewhere in Yorkshire due to the accent of the baker at the end but we were completely wrong. Dorset! So we read all about the filming in the little museum, saw the actual bike used, walked down and then back up the steep hill, took a bunch of pictures and stopped for a coffee over looking the top of the hill.

Shaftesbury Dorset

It’s great to stumble across something like this that isn’t very important at all but is a part of all of our lives.

A couple of years ago the Independent Newspaper ran a competition and the Hovis Ad ‘Boy on a Bike‘ was voted Britains Best TV Advert ever closely followed by Milk Tray (‘And all because the lady loves ….‘) and Ferrero Rocher (‘you spoil us Ambassador‘). Memories eh?

Shaftesbury Dorset

Some of our favourite days out are when we have stumbled across a place that we previously had absolutely no idea about. Shaftesbury and Gold Hill was exactly that, a lovely quintessentially English town with great history and of course the Hovis effect. Can you hear the music in your head right now? Can you?

Shaftesbury Dorset


Britains Best TV Advert


  1. I’ve seen features about Gold Hill before, but I didn’t know it had its own little museum and – I have to say – seriously tacky loaf at the top! I do remember that advert very well, and I refuse to believe it was 1973. Seems like yesterday (obviously sinking right into my dotage now).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I never knew that! I too always thought that the hovis ad was filmed in Yorkshire. It looks a pretty town. I wouldn’t fancy walking a bike up that hill though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant blog mate. Love that sort of stuff, Ridley Scott directed that advert! King Cnut. There’s a museum! I think an overnight stay might be in order to say you’ve ‘visited’ somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being in Australia, I have never seen that ad and I enjoyed the great story! We have been to Shaftesbury and it is indeed one of those beautiful little places that you find on postcards or in ads. Looking good you two!!.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Woooah I would never have guessed that advert was in Dorset! It is such a pretty street though.

    You know, I think you have been to waaaay more of the UK’s counties than I have! I used to travel around a lot (I’d give grants to schools to support their language education, so I’d need to visit them) but you have still been to more!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “We had always assumed, and I’m sure the majority of others did the same, that it had been filmed somewhere in Yorkshire due to the accent of the baker at the end” ?? The baker (Bill Maynard) speaks in a thick West Country accent. Could people in the 70s not tell the difference between two dialects from different ends of the country?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly what was mentioned in the little museum at the top of the hill. I suspect we were all supposed to think it was Yorkshire. Seriously steep though.


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