James Walton

A total mess: BBC2’s The Watch reviewed

Plus: a fantastically entertaining Channel 4 documentary about when Yorkie and Galaxy went to war with Dairy Milk

An eye-popping, eyebrow-wiggling, head-swivelling, neck-stretching display of hamminess: Richard Dormer in The Watch [BBC Studios/Alex Telfer]

Last Sunday on Channel 4, a man called Eric Nicoli proudly remembered ‘the bravest thing I’ve ever done’. In November 1975, Rowntree was poised to launch the Trek chocolate bar. The packaging was ready, along with an advertising campaign featuring, for some reason, potholers. But as the company’s new product manager, Eric couldn’t rid himself of the niggling feeling that Trek was boring. So — and this is the brave bit — he went to the boss and said that Rowntree should think again. ‘You better be bloody right, young man,’ the boss replied. And with that, Eric returned to the drawing board where he came up with the name Yorkie and an advertising campaign featuring, for some reason, lorry drivers. ‘The rest,’ he duly told us, ‘is history.’

This was The Secret World of Chocolate: a programme that owed much of its considerable entertainment value to a winning lack of perspective. As well as Eric, we met Sir Dominic Cadbury and Bill Ronald of Mars. All looked back on their historical rivalries like old soldiers — prepared, now the dust has settled, to give the enemy a degree of respect (although not too much) but still with the gleam of battle in their eye.

Dairy Milk faced a pincer assault, with Yorkie on one flank and a sexed-up version of Galaxy on the other

Yorkie, we learned, came about because of Cadbury’s fateful decision in the 1970s to cut costs by making Dairy Milk less chunky: something that clearly remains a matter of piercing regret to Sir Dominic. (Yorkie, he sniffed, was ‘an opportunistic product’.) Up till then, Dairy Milk had been the untouchable ‘Queen Mother’ of choccy bars. Now it faced a pincer assault, with Yorkie on one flank and, on the other, a sexed-up version of Mars’s Galaxy, which had the nerve to ask consumers ‘Why have cotton when you can have silk?’ — a jibe, as Bill noted with a mischievous chuckle and Sir Dominic with undiminished outrage, aimed squarely at the sainted Dairy Milk.

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