My Commercial that Never Aired
In the summer of 2007 a group representing the world’s green and black tea producers staged a contest to write the best short commercial for their product. The one and only prize was $20,000 to be applied only to the winner’s further education. No cash.
I was oblivious to that information until about two days before the contest deadline, when I got a call from one of the directors I had worked with in the course of my theatrical pastime. It turned out his girlfriend (whom I had not met) was hoping to enter and win the money she would need to get her masters degree.
I went over and chatted with the two of them about the contest and got all the gory details, including the really tight deadline. In the course of the conversation, I happened to mention that I had learned in my British History course, that there had been a tea break during the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
They both thought that would make a great idea for a commercial and asked if I would write the thing up. I did, but then informed the young lady that I expected some kind of remuneration, say enough to cover a weekend in New York to see a couple shows, if she happened to win…not much against $20,000 toward a degree.
She and her boyfriend declined my offer and, to her credit, she did manage to come up with the winning commercial some other way. I don’t regret missing out on the New York excursion so much as I do the fact that my clever little commercial never aired. Attention, Tea Council: It’s still available, and for less money, but in cash, not tuition payments. Here is what you and the nation missed out on.
The scene opens on a table, set with a teapot and two cups, and a chair, out in the middle of a field. Superimpose on the screen: “Hastings, 1066.”
VOICEOVER: So ancient is the British tradition of afternoon tea, there was even a tea
break during the battle of Hastings.
Cue sounds of battle: shouting, screaming, the clank of metal on metal, whinnying of horses, etc. Cue loud whistle, after which battle sounds abruptly stop.
OFFSTAGE VOICE:(Note: all speaking to be done in a Cockney or otherwise lower class British accent) Tea time!
Enter a Saxon warrior, looking somewhat the worse for wear. He will be talking into the camera to an unseen comrade, sitting across from him.
SAXON: Blimey, this is some fight, ain’t it mate? Care for a spot ‘a tea? We
got a bit of the green stuff, ‘ere. Too bad they was outa the black tea, it’s just as good,
y’know. Oh, well, fortunes of war an’ all that rot…
He pours two cups of green tea.
SAXON: You know, this ‘ere green tea isn’t just good, it’s good for you as well…. For one thing, you got your antioxidents to consider. Now, you know me, mate, I’m anti oxident all the way. Why, I ‘ates oxidents near as much as I ‘ates the blinkin’ Normans, that’s wot. ‘Ere’s another thing, they says it ‘elps to retard the cancer….Wot? You don’t see ‘ow cancer could be as retarded as me? Say, if I didn’t know better, I’d fink ‘at was an insoult….No, mate, I don’t think the tea will fix that arrow through your leg, but, look ‘ere, y’can’t have everything, can you now?
OFFSTAGE VOICE: Tea time’s over! Back to your ‘ammers and axes!
SAXON: Ah, well, back to the old grindstone…Yes, the grindstone. Me sword’s
got awful dull from all that stabbing and ‘acking. Tea, mate. If we get through today,
we’ll live forever. Cheerio.