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From Glamour In The Spotlight To Walk In Baths

May 25, 2008
There comes a sad time in every actor's life when he or she finds the work is drying up. You go from being the gorgeous, latest thing to be seen in every presenting position or TV drama going until people are sick of your face. You then take a break to raise a family, return for bit parts as the latest newcomers mother and then it happens - that gradual decent into the abyss of commercial actors advertising aids for the elderly.

We have Christopher Timothy, once a brilliant actor in programmes such as All Creatures Great and Small and Doctors, he has also made a name for himself in TV directing and writing. But how many people now know him as the man from the life insurance commercial? This is the point where those of us of a certain age say things like 'Oooh, doesn't he look old!'

We have June Whitfield, brilliant actress from as far back as the Sixties carry on films. Now advertising things like stair lifts. A true icon, if you ask me, June still continues to have some good acting roles such as her recent stint in Absolutely Fabulous. Still capable of playing a feisty woman, June is seen as the sensible, if slightly frail, woman who cannot manage the stairs without assistance.

Also in the realms of aging TV personalities confined to the ageist TV commercials is Judith Chalmers. Best known for her role as the orange skinned travel show presenter she is now making her living advertising walk in baths for the elderly and disabled.

Of course, walk in baths are an absolute god send for those in need and are an admirable way to make money but how does it come to this? Whatever happened to has-been actors just fading into the background? Or if they need to stay in the limelight, why not turn into an ageing sleuth in another version of TV detectives.

Do manufacturers think that it is absolutely necessary to use people of a certain age and fame to advertise products like walk in baths to their best? Maybe it would be more fun to see a young person whizzing up and down stairs on a stair lift, injecting some life into the advertising campaign, rather than making the elderly or infirm feel like they're making that last journey on the stairway to heaven. You may need a stair lift, a walk in bath or life insurance, but it doesn't necessarily mean you no longer have a zest for life or a sense of humour.

If it was true that you needed elderly people to advertise products for the elderly, then surely it means you need ugly people to advertise beauty products? A before and after advert to show us how it really works would go a lot further than a famous beauty of airbrushed perfection showing us how she doesn't really need the product she's being paid a mint to advertise. After all, none of us really believe we'll look like that after a few applications of slathering on the 'miracle' cream.

And how many fat people do you see advertising slimming aids? They may well have cardboard cut outs of their 'before' selves but maybe we want to see the real thing rather than a possibly inflated version of how they want us to believe they started out. If we have to see the decrepit approaching a walk in bath then maybe we should see the obese leading the way with flavoured shakes and cereal bars?

Think I have a point? Maybe I should go into advertising.
About the Author
Advertising expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way celebrities are used to advertise walk in baths and such products.
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