Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

Smedley's Adverts

1972 Article

Typical advert

The in-house journal
Fans of Morecambe and Wise, or collectors of memorabilia may recognise a series of adverts Eric and Ern took part in for Smedley's products such as peas and potatoes. Their full page advertisements were common in many magazines in the early 70's and the company journal ran a story about them in January 1972 in their in-house journal. The front page set the scene for the larger article inside.

Smedley's staff are 'stars' of the Company's new television advertising campaign which features Britain's top comedy duo, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Among the employees who took part in the photography sessions was "strawberry Ranger" Tony Mitchell of Faversham, seen here struggling to keep his composure in the face of Eric's hilarious ad-libbing.

Inside the larger story went into more detail.


Stories that names are going up in neon lights outside several Smedley's factories are completely unfounded. But dozens of employees from various company locations have certainly become 'celebrities' overnight in the launching of a new advertising campaign featuring Britain's top comedy team of Morecambe and Wise.

The distinctive humour of Eric and Ernie has been channelled into the illustration of various factory and field jobs which are part of the Smedley's operation. And for complete authenticity it was decided that only genuine Smedley's staff would be photographed with the two comedians, rather than models.

An operation, almost military-style in its planning, was swung into action with the 'stars'-to be selected from the factories and field activities and photographic sessions arranged to fit in with Eric and Ernie's tight schedule. Accommodation was arranged in London, Smedley's P.R. Consultant visited the staff concerned and helped with travelling arrangements.


Then off to London went the first batch of Smedly's new celebrities to be photographed. "Carrot Conductors" Miss Irene Parden and Miss Olga Rivett, both from the North Walsham factory; "Broad Bean Bullies" Mrs Edith Olsen from Barming and Mrs. Evelyn Amies from North Walsham; and "Pea Patrols" fieldsmen Rex Jackson from Wisbech and Robin Dean from Spalding.

The second session featured "Potato Raters" Mrs Vi Barber and Miss Marleen Kirk, both from Wisbech; "Green Bean Boffins" Mrs Maria Purse from Wisbech and Miss Wendy Abel from Thetford; "Strawberry Rangers" John Stibbons from the North Walsham factory and Tony Mitchell of Faversham.

Reactions to the trip and working with Eric and Ernie were unanimous – everyone was delighted. "Wouldn't have missed it for anything," said Mrs Barber. "I particularly enjoyed seeing how the advertising is handled," remarked Robin Dean. Wendy Abel found her co-stars even funnier than on television, and everybody was struck by how friendly Morecambe and Wise were.

From the dozen 'stars', six will be selected to appear in advertisements in women's and family magazines stating in February and running through the spring months.

And by popular demand the new Semdley's stars are still making personal appearances daily at their factories!!

Our thanks to the Granddaughter of Violet Barber for providing the images and the journal.

© 2021 and IF 1972
Other Images from this article:

Violet Barber in the advert

Tony Mitchell

Un-used image of Violet Barber

Smedley's employees

Maria Purse

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A look at the many and varied products that Eric and Ern put their name to.