Kevin Sampson’s 2001 Guardian article about Half Man Half Biscuit gets straight into the tale:
“It has been mayhem – there have been schedules to adhere to, studio dates and at least two live gigs to accommodate, and voice-overs to record. That is thanks to Mark Cooper, a “creative” at swanky ad agency Ogilvy and Mather. It is he who conceived the concept, and the voice, of the current BP ad. And the voice he chose was not that of Martin Clunes. Nor John Peel, nor Suggs, Jo Whiley, Johnny Vaughan, nor anyone else from the ranks of creatives’ faves. The deadpan and slightly morose voice-over on one of the year’s slickest and most expensive TV ads is that of Nigel Blackwell, the singer out of Half Man Half Biscuit.
“It appealed to my sense of the absurd,” says Blackwell, a strapping 36-year-old who is more Jaap Stam these days than the crusty punk of yore. Absurdity is of paramount importance to chaps such as Nigel, one of thousands born into a new strand in the early 60s, the upper working class. Young newlyweds all over the UK were encouraged to buy starter homes on large estates – think Thelma and Bob in The Likely Lads – and their children, far from being groomed for an apprenticeship in a time-served trade, were more often encouraged to read and take school seriously. Which did not exclude television – their young were exposed to the wiles of Monty Python and The Goodies. Blackwell grew up in the Holmlands area of Birkenhead, a vast development of “bought” semis that is still growing exponentially today. And here he is voicing an advert for BP. “It’s one of those where it’s so easy not to do it that you end up quite liking the perversity of the idea,” says Blackwell.”
To those who can’t quite believe the BP advert ever happened, fortunately, nearly twenty years later, YouTube has popped up with the goods. Enjoy.