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Sylvester Stallone (Pic: Warburtons)
Sylvester Stallone (Pic: Warburtons)
Sylvester Stallone (Pic: Warburtons)

There are two reasons why Hollywood stars go over to the U.K. and take part in self-depreciating TV commercials. One is that their rarity value ensures greater impact for the commercials themselves, chiefly because Brits are always terribly impressed by famous people from Hollywood who come over to the U.K., as we’ll see from some of the examples below.

The other reason is that no one back home will have the first clue that these commercials have even been filmed. So they get all the cash and none of the grief.

Until now, that is…

Arnold Schwarzenegger

This may take some explaining. For some time, British TV has been blessed with commercials for the Compare The Market insurance company that star meerkats with Eastern European accents (“compare the meerkat,” geddit?), most of which end with one of them saying the word “Simples!” in a hand-dusting “That’s that” sort of a way. Recently, they’ve started to raise the production values and roped in the former Governor of California to help them, presumably because his Austrian accent is broadly similar.

Snoop Dogg

There’s been a few of these commercials for the British financial advice site, involving weedy British guys taking on startling new levels of self-confidence simply because they’ve saved a few quid. Snoop’s was the first, and it sets its stall out fairly well. However, the current one, featuring Sharon Osbourne and a man in denim hotpants and high heels, has to be seen to be believed.

Sylvester Stallone

A good many of these commercials are based on the inherent unlikeliness of a Hollywood star deigning to appear in a domestic British environment and how exciting that would be. But unlike the contribution from, say, Bruce Willis below, this ad for quality sliced bread takes that juxtaposition and reverses it. In this case, it’s the star of Rocky and Rambo that wants to be in with the Brits, not the other way around.

Kevin Bacon

It makes sense for a communications company like EE to have some fun with the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing, in order to emphasize how well they can connect people together and provide access to a grab-bag of uniquely British things (all of which would take too long to explain here). You could argue that it makes slightly less sense for Kevin Bacon to do the ads, but if show business teaches us anything, it’s that money is a great solver of these sort of dilemmas.

Harvey Keitel

There are a few of these ads doing the rounds, in which Harvey turns up at the scene of an insurance claim, looking exactly as he did in Pulp Fiction. The claimants are glad to see him, pleased with his offers of help, but slightly disquieted by the vague (and quickly dispelled) undercurrent of menace in his demeanor.

Oh, and while we’re talking about undercurrents of menace…

Mr. T

It’s fair to say that someone in the agency that represents Snickers is having a LOT of fun at the moment, starting with a couple of commercials starring the most needlessly angry character in television history (The Hulk doesn’t count, he has usually been provoked); B.A. “Bad Attitude” Baracus from The A Team. He pities the fool who tries to pretend to be injured during a game of football just to get a penalty shot at goal.

Samuel L. Jackson

In which Nick Fury from the Marvel movies is appalled by the poor broadband choices of his film crew and starts berating everyone in a bid for a more unlimited internet browsing experience. I say “berating,” but it’s really more of a light ticking off after the Mr. T experience. What he needs is a tank.

Samuel isn’t the only Hollywood star advocating on behalf of Sky either. See here…

Al Pacino

Check out the Oscar winner playing golf on top of a piano. And then…

Bruce Willis

Here the Die Hard star fails to get to grips with how broadband works, but entirely succeeds at getting to grips with the support staff at his local IT help desk.

Yep, nothing remotely creepy about that.

See more:
Five Great British Rock Stars In Horrendous TV Commercials
Funny British Adverts That Give Super Bowl Commercials a Run for Their Money
Five Bizarre Things About British Television
Startling British TV Ads of 2011

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By Fraser McAlpine