East of the M60’s 2021 Advent Calendar looks at a late-1980s/early-1990s advert for Britain’s Favourite Seaside Resort
Long before Energy In Northampton and that song about Milton Keynes in our second Advent Calendar door, there is one town that has got self promotion off to a fine art. One that is a product of the railway age and over a century’s worth of cooperation between the public sector and private enterprise. We are talking a place that sees more visitors than the Algarve, whether they arrive for the day, a week or a fortnight.
We are talking about Blackpool, a place famed for its take on the Eiffel Tower, its trams, and the illuminations. In spite of flights to sunny Spain and the Canaries, it is still the UK’s most popular holiday resort. Its continuous reinvention – epitomised also by the Borough Council’s motto Progress – is why the town has kept up with the times better than its rivals. In Granadaland at least, you were never too far away from a Blackpool advert in January. Or in the later part of the summer season before the illuminations.
I can remember a few Blackpool adverts from my youth, such as those for the Pleasure Beach; also the excellent Blackpool Zoo one with animals singing “Blackpool zo-oooo”. Also one that showed Blackpool at night with some shots of Funland amusements that got me thinking “take me to the Space Invaders machine now!”
In 1989, there was one advert that promoted the town’s star attractions so succinctly. It had a decent yet catchy theme tune with a killer chorus. Entitled Blackpool Go For It, the jingle is pure power pop/rock ballad territory and opens with a typical shot of a girl eating candy floss. As soon as we see the Revolution, the glamour takes over with a woman going down a water slide in The Sand Castle. Before a bikini-clad lady appears, we see a cameo appearance of the Tokaido Express ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
It’s clear the film maker liked roller coasters. After a scene of two blokes walking through a fountain we cut to a shot of the Big Dipper. After the female singers trill “waiting for you, you’re a part of it too”, a couple dining sees what could be their (presumably) furtive actions curtailed by a shot of The Avalanche. Later on, the clip is followed by the obligatory nighttime shots of Blackpool Illuminations, some static shots of top rated celebrities, and an ‘Allo ‘Allo poster before finishing with a young boy jumping into a ball pond.
Did the advert work? I think it did. Each time I used to see it on the telly, the loud “Blackpool go for it!” got me thinking “this is my happy place”. Several visits to the resort later, I didn’t need any advert to sell me the joys of the Golden Mile. The place is not perfect, but I still get a buzz each time I see The Tower from a train window. Or when I pass Clayton’s ALDI store, wishing I was sat on a Mayne of Manchester coach at five to nine.
Tomorrow, we shall be going east to a place that was built by synthetic ammonia and ICI. One that inspired the night sky of Los Angeles in 2019 on Blade Runner and The Alan Parsons Project LP Ammonia Avenue.
S.V., 21 December 2021.