It always seem a tad crass to reduce the scope of a life down to an advert, but Lynda Bellingham was probably seen by virtually everyone in the British isles as the OXO Mum in a series of adverts from the gravy producers in the 80s and 90s.
We don’t really get this homely nuclear family staple in advertising anymore – the Smash robots, the Tetley brewers, Gold Blend couple, Hofmeister bear and so on being other examples I remember fondly – apart from when Jonny Vegas and Monkey reappear from time to time, but televisions used to be full of them. It’s worth remembering that in the 80s there were merely four TV channels, so you found yourself watching ITV even when you didn’t want to.
There are pluses and negatives here – one of them being that advertisers knew they had a captive audience so didn’t have to be quite so obnoxious in attracting your attention. So these adverts were allowed to breath and develop over the years, become a part of our families too as we scoffed our tea, swigged our brews and glazed over in the ad break between Corrie.
It’s a testament to Bellingham – and the other members of the cast – that these adverts never got on our nerves, annoyed us; never became unwelcome in our homes. In fact, there’s a curious sense of loss when something so familiar goes from the TV screens, so much do we associate them with happy, homely times in our real lives.
My money’s on a return of the Oxo Mum to TV screens as a small tribute – and there might just be the odd tear spilt as well as whatever’s in the gravy boat.