What happened to the stars of these classic TV ads? From Renault’s ‘Nicole’ and ‘Papa’ to the Jaffa Cakes ‘total eclipse’ woman and the victims of the Tango’s infamous Orange Man
- Many people who star in famous adverts have long and happy careers as actors
- MailOnline takes a look at the careers of those who were in iconic adverts
- Read more: As M&S launches new campaign, what type of model do we want?
It was a simple greeting from father to daughter, but it resonated with a generation.
Say ‘Nicole’ to any Brit born in the 1980s or before and the response will be immediate. ‘Papa’.
The charming father and daughter pairing of Max Douchin and Estelle Skornik would sell 300,000 Renault Clios over their seven-year run of TV ads.
Fiesty ‘Nicole’ would outwit her questioning ‘Papa’, sneaking off to see her boyfriend while the old man was asleep or otherwise occupied.
The Clio ad was one of a number of iconic television adverts that will forever remain dear to millions who look back fondly, not just on their favourite programmes, but the commercials in between them.
From the cruel teacher scoffing Jaffa Cakes in front of her class to the slaps of the infamous Tango man that sparked a dangerous craze, 1990s TV ads had it all.
While the ads proved the launchpad for some stars, others drifted from our screens to lead more private lives.
Here, MailOnline takes a deeper dive into the lives of the people behind some of the best adverts of the nineties.
Renault Clio: ‘Nicole’ and ‘Papa’
Nicole, a charming young French woman, featured in several adverts for Renault Clios and was at one point more recognisable than the Prime Minister of the time, John Major
‘Nicole’ and ‘Papa’: French stars Estelle Skornik and Max Douchin in thre classic TV ad series
‘Pape’ and ‘Nicole’: The father-daughter double-act who helped Renault sell 300,000 Clios
Nicole is played by actress Estelle Skornik, who has also appeared in productions of The Days That Made History and Les Lyonnais
Estelle Skornik with Ioan Gruffudd in 1999. She played love interest Mariette in the naval series Hornblower, which had eight feature-length episodes over five years, from 1998.
Estelle Skornik, pictured in 2014, played the iconic Nicole, who drove around France in a series of Renault Clios
Nicole? Papa! … Two words that still conjure up images of a suave Frenchman, his daughter and a Renault Clio nipping through the countryside.
The original advert, shot in 1991, saw Nicole (French actress Estelle Skornik) checking that her father is asleep in his garden chair, whispering ‘Papa?’ before sneaking off to drive into town in her Clio to meet a date.
Unknown to her, her father, played by Max Douchin, is awake and shoots off on his own romantic jaunt in his own Renault with a bunch of flowers.
French actress Estelle Skornik, who has worked steadily in French productions since the popular adverts were cancelled
The 51-year-old actress lives in Paris with her three children and has taken a step back in her career recently
The duo’s secret adventures were charted over eight adverts, with the last airing in 1998.
Estelle, who has denied not actually being able to drive when the first advert was filmed, has since appeared in a number of other productions, including From Hell, The Days That Made History and Les Lyonnais.
The 51-year-old actress also starred alongside Ioan Gruffudd, as the love interest for his character Horatio Hornblower in the Royal Navy saga set during the Napoleanic Wars.
The actor pictured at the premiere of Les Héritiers De Patmos in 2017 with Loc-Nar Productions. He played ‘Papa’ in the Clio adverts, alongside Estelle Skornik as Nicole
‘Papa’ is ‘papped’: Max Douchin and Estelle Skornik in a 1997 Father’s Day promo shot for Renault Clio
Seasoned French actor Max Douchin starred in French-Italian TV series Les Héritiers De Patmos
In 1996, Estelle married Laurent Bismuth. They currently live in France with their three children, and she’s taken a step back from her acting career, with her last known role in 2011.
She told The Independent in 1998 that: ‘Nicole is very spontanee and I’m very spontanee. She’s open to life, she’s French. Nicole is part of me.’
A 1996 survey found that more British people recognised Nicole than recognised the Prime Minister of the time, John Major, or radio presenter Chris Evans.
Seasoned French actor Max Douchin, who started his career in the late sixties, has continued to appear in movies and TV shows since his spell as ‘Papa’ for Renault.
As recently as 2017, he starred in the first episode of French-Italian TV series Les Héritiers De Patmos, and attended the glitzy premier in Paris.
Cadbury: ‘Flake Girl’ in the bath
Rachel Brown relaxes in an overflowing bath tub in the well-known advert for the chocolate treats
She opens and enjoys a Cadbury Flake while in the bath, eating it in what many would call a seductive manner
The closing shots of the advert show the overflowing water cascading down the stairs and out of the bathroom as the model remains oblivious to the spillage
Raven-haired beauty Rachel Brown pictured in 1993: She has since disappeared from the public eye
Model Rachel Brown, pictured in 1991 as part of the promotion for Cabdury’s Flake
A raven-haired beauty eating chocolate in the bath captured the attention of the public in what has been voted the ‘sexiest ad in British TV’.
Rachel Brown, a model who was later featured in Vogue, was the woman luxuriating in the tub with a Flake and was paid £5,000 for the initial advert.
She’s stepped back from the public eye after suffering health problems.
While Rachel Brown ate her way to immortality as she seductively nibbled on the chocolate treat, she’s not the only woman to feature in the adverts for Cadbury.
There have been many famous Flake Girls, including model Janice Levy and singer Joss Stone.
Jaffa Cakes: ‘Total Eclipse’ woman
The teacher – whose identity remains unknown – shows her class the cycles of the moon by taking large bites of Jaffa Cakes
She ends the advert by repeating the exercise, giving her a chance to have another of the orange and chocolate cakes
The woman, who is reportedly Croatian, remains anonymous. She holds a box of Jaffa Cakes, suggesting her class might learn quite a lot about the moon cycles
Full moon, half moon, total eclipse… far from pulling off the thin layer of chocolate off the top of a Jaffa Cake with her teeth, the woman in this iconic advert consumes the cake in just two bites.
Teaching a class of small and slightly bored children about the cycles of the moon, the dark-haired teacher sits perched on her desk, a roll of Jaffa Cakes in hand.
But nothing is known about the woman with the Jaffa Cakes, despite the impact she has had on so many.
She is reportedly Croatian – and we know how she likes to eat her Jaffa Cake – but mystery abounds about her identity.
MailOnline has contacted McVities, who are searching their archives to try and discover more about the captivating teacher.
Britvic: Tango’s infamous Orange Man
The bright orange man ran around slapping those who were drinking the orange flavoured drink, before the ad was banned by the Independent Television Commission
Peter Geeves played the orange bandit, who ran around topless and harassed people who were drinking Tango
The wildly-viewed advert sparked a playground craze of slapping which led to black eyes and perforated eardrums in many children
The Tango Man – a bright orange half-naked man who was filmed running around and slapping people drinking the orange-flavoured fizzy pop – was a hilarious advertising creation that was almost immediately banned.
But the advert has been accused of sparking the nationwide ‘happy slapping’ craze, that became banned in playgrounds after a series of black eyes and perforated eardrums, and soon escalated to thugs slapping defenceless members of the public.
The Independent Television Commission banned the orange man and his advert from the airwaves in 1992.
Peter started a microbrewery with his son Harry in 2011 which was popular but was dissolved in May 2022
Peter Geeves, who played the orange menace, went on to have small parts in Muppet’s Treasure Island and Drop The Dead Donkey.
Speaking in 2006, Peter said: ‘I was asked to first of all run around, then run around and scream, then run around screaming topless, it was at that point I thought: “Aye-aye, this isn’t the normal run of the mill advert.”‘
In 2011, Peter set up a microbrewery with his son, Harry, and they supplied beers to pubs and shops around Yorkshire until the company was dissolved in May 2022.
Dr Pepper: What’s the worst that could happen?
Fans of film The Social Network will recognise a 19-year-old Jesse Eisenberg in the first of a series of Dr Pepper adverts that ran the slogan: What’s the worst that could happen?
For young Jesse’s character the answer is the stuff of nightmares, as his trousers and underwear are cut off by over-zealous emergency services workers after an accident in the shop.
The teenager tempts fate while picking up a bottle of Dr Pepper, asking: ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’
An accident happens as a glass door shatters, piling a variety of products from the higher shelves on top of Jesse Eisenberg’s character
The teenager is cut out of his trousers and underwear before being hoisted on to the shoulders of the emergency services workers
The unfortunate naked teenager is filmed from a news helicopter that is circling above, in an advert that resembles a nightmare
The half-naked teenager is then carried outside into a crowd of people and is filmed from a news helicopter that is circling above.
Using the Dr Pepper bottle to protect his privacy, the beleaguered teenager shouts a terrified ‘No!’ into the camera as the advert ends.
Jesse has since had a long and successful acting career, from his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg to Woody Allen’s Cafe Society.
The actor has had a successful career in film, including in Woody Allen’s Cafe Society and The Social Network, for which he received an Oscar nomination
Jesse Eisenberg in Disney’s Fleischman Is In Trouble, which launched on Disney+ earlier this week
The 39-year-old actor also stars in Disney’s Fleischman Is In Trouble, which launched on Disney+ earlier this week.
Interestingly, his sister Hallie Eisenberg was a famous child star who is best known for being the Pepsi girl in a series of adverts.
Hopefully there’s no family arguments at the dinner table over which carbonated drink is best.
Knorr: The Oxo Family
The Oxo family were a longstanding feature of an ad break in the UK, running from 1983 to 1999
Lynda Bellingham OBE, who played the mother in the Oxo adverts, was an occasional Loose Women panellist until her death from bowel cancer in 2014
The Oxo family were a longstanding feature of an ad break in the UK, running from 1983 to 1999.
For some of the youngsters involved, the role launched a successful career in show business but the others now work in very ordinary jobs.
Oxo mother, Lynda Bellingham OBE, was an occasional Loose Women panellist until her death from bowel cancer in 2014.
She married for a third time in 2008, having written in her 2010 autobiography that she was in an abusive relationship during the filming of the Oxo adverts.
‘Maybe if my private life had been happier I would have enjoyed doing it more. As it was, I felt I was living a lie.
‘Being the nation’s favourite mum on screen and going home to an abusive relationship was heartbreaking. The irony was horrific.
‘Here I was, the Oxo mum, hiding behind closed doors, isolated from her friends and family.’
The cast members reunited as adults. They led very different lives after the Oxo family was cancelled, with only one of the three children staying in show business professionally
Her third husband, Michael Pattemore was drawn into a legal battle with her sons over her will after allegedly disowning them.
He claimed to sleep with her ghost in an extraordinary interview in Spirit and Destiny magazine shortly after her death.
Her son Robbie said at the time: ‘She should be remembered for all the wonderful work she did as an actress and the inspiring courage she showed at the end of her life, not for these tacky revelations that are tarnishing the reputation she worked so hard for.’
Lynda Bellingham was fondly remembered by cast mates from the Oxo family, with Blair MacKichan, who played the eldest son, describing her as ‘a wonderful, lovely ball of energy’.
‘She had a naughty sense of humour and she told us fantastic stories that I daren’t repeat.
‘She was a real fiery character – the memories are of just laughing. I truly loved her that’s why it’s so sad,’ he told The Mirror when she died in 2014.
Blair MacKichan has had a successful career as a musician and producer and has written songs for Olly Murrs, Paloma Faith and Lily Allen.
He wrote the 2005 Will Young song Your Game, for which he won a Brit Award.
Blair is the only one of the three Oxo siblings to stay in show business professionally.
Colin McCoy, who played the middle child of the three, studied Chemistry at Kingston University and has worked in product quality assurance at some big brands, including
Blair MacKichan, who played the oldest son in the Oxo family, has had a successful career as a musician and producer for many famous artists
Colin McCoy, who played the middle child of the three, studied Chemistry at Kingston University and has worked in product quality assurance
Alison Reynolds, whose married name is now Alison Levell, was just eight when she won the role of the family’s precocious daughter and now works in a pharmacy
He is a divorced father of three and is based in Worcester.
Colin said in 2007 that his time on the show had helped with the ladies but that he wasn’t completely committed to acting.
‘It definitely helped with the ladies when I was younger when people recognised me. I still do magic cabaret so I do still like the performing side.
‘I was absolutely gutted when the ads were dropped. You just know you are never going to experience that again. I think to succeed in acting you need to be 100 per cent dedicated – which I wasn’t able to be.’
Alison Reynolds, whose married name is now Alison Levell, was just eight when she won the role of the family’s precocious daughter.
She’s now a married mother of two boys and works at a pharmacy.
The former child actress said of her on-screen mother, Lynda Bellingham, when she died in 2014: ‘I think her death has been tragic but at the same time it was so typical of Lynda. She took control and was positive.
‘What a woman, what a mother, what a role model and a very fine actress. A special lady, that it was a pleasure and a privilege to know.’
Oxo father Michael Refern died in July 2022 at the age of 79.
Oxo father Michael Refern died in July 2022. He had struggled with typecasting after the Oxo advert ended and moved to Spain with his wife
The Fulham supporter did not enjoy some aspects of the fame that came with the stock cube adverts and said he was ‘typecast’ after the role.
Michael worked as a taxi-driver and ran a cafe but struggled to find acting work after the adverts were axed in 1999.
He even unsuccessfully applied to be the grandfather in the reboot of the Oxo family before moving to Spain with his wife.
Michael said in 2003: ‘I am still recognised as the Oxo Dad, although sometimes people say “Has anyone ever told you you look like the bloke from the Bisto ad?”
‘After 16 years I am imprinted on people’s minds as that character. It was great at the time and gave me a good living, but it has hindered my career.
‘Work has been very thin on the ground. There are very few jobs about, especially for my age group. The jobbing actor seems to have disappeared from TV now. What dramas there are seem to have the same few celebrities in them over and over again.’
He made ends meet by compering quiz nights and giving speeches.
Joe McKinney dances around the pint of Guinness while he waits for it to settle – a painful wait for those desperate
The actor spent two years making appearances to promote the product but quit because the drinking became too much
Every Irish stout drinker knows the pain of waiting for the pint to settle and it was this feeling that was satirised in the 1994 advert.
Classically trained actor Joe McKinney dances to Perez Prado’s Guaglione around the pint as it settles before eventually getting to take that all-important first sip.
The Dublin born actor spent two years making appearances to promote the product but eventually quit as the drinking got too much.
Joe McKinney stepped back from the Guinness advert after spending two years promoting the drink, as he felt he had more to give
Halowin, a short filmed in 2012, see three friends enjoy a Halloween night out, with drink, drugs and a surprise party
The Dubliner is now Reiki master, teacher and a Minister of the Universal Life Church
He told the Irish Times: ‘I knew there was a bit more to me. I had to stop and regroup. I didn’t want to be another drunken Irish Paddy just off the boat.’
Joe, 55, starred in RTE One drama, Glenroe, before going on to appearances in the documentary series Hollywood Trials and the IFTA-nominated Anton in 2008.
He is a Reiki master and teacher and a Minister of the Universal Life Church.
Rachel Willis played Connie – short for Connect – in the AOL advertisements
Rachel Willis, known as Rachel Macpherson after her marriage, launched a model agency in the wake of her AOL success and also won a part in Bruce Willis’ The Fifth Element
She launched a model agency in the wake of her AOL success and married property magnate Tim Macpherson
Daughter of Liberal Democrat MP Lord Willis, Rachel Willis played the most irritating character in advertising when she depicted Connie – short for Connect – in the AOL spots.
With a perfect hairdo and a dress that scrolled as she spoke, Connie is a human version of AOL itself – but her perfect presentation was described as ‘grating’.
Rachel Willis has had a pretty idyllic life herself, marrying her husband, property magnate Tim Macpherson, in Parliament in 2011.
She launched a model agency in the wake of her AOL success and also won a part in Bruce Willis’ The Fifth Element.
It’s not all been sunshine and roses, however. In 2002 Rachel was punched in the face and kicked by a mugger who stole her handbag.
Her mother heard her screams over the phone before it went dead and she contacted Rachel’s MP father in the House of Commons.
The AOL star was violently mugged in 2002 as a man punched her in the face while trying to steal her handbag
She married property magnate Tim Macpherson, in Parliament in 2011. They are pictured at the bottom of the Westminster Hall steps on their wedding day
Rachel Willis, pictured in 2002 following her horrific mugging incident: She married property magnate Tim Macpherson in Parliament in 2011
‘I am really lucky I was not badly injured. I know a lot of people have a lot worse happen to them so I am just grateful for getting away relatively lightly,’ the actress said after the attack.
Phil Willis, former MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, received a death threat in the wake of the MP’s expenses scandal, as it turned out that he claimed the full interest costs of his home loan on his London flat and had it rewired and repainted at the taxpayer’s expense.
It was claimed that he purchased a second flat and recorded it as a second home but that Rachel was the sole occupier.
MPs are not allowed to claim for costs that benefit others.
Mr Willis said his daughter had never been a ‘permanent resident’ in the flat and said they were registered jointly with his wife and daughter respectively because he had suffered a stroke.
He also said he had never knowingly abused the MPs’ Additional Cost Allowance but agreed to repay £3,230 in cleaning expenses in October 2009.
Nestle: Milkybar Kid
The character has been played by a number of blond child stars since it was created (pictured, Conrad in the iconic role)
The former child actor is now a photographer, having stepped behind the lens in 2016 to pursue the new career
He rides into town on a horse to save the townspeople from an evil sheriff before handing out Milkybar bars, shouting: ‘Milkybars are on me!’
The real life Milkybar Kid, Conrad Coleby, 43, son of British actor Robert Coleby, has enjoyed a varied acting career since his stint with Nestle.
The character has been portrayed by a succession of blond child stars in Australia, with Conrad playing the lead role throughout the nineties.
Saving the day! Conrad’s adverts took place in a Wild West setting, with the Milkybar Kid bursting into a saloon to buy everyone Milkybars as the patrons cheered
After his time in the Western-inspired ads, Conrad launched a successful acting career, starring in Disney’s Sabrina Down Under and Home And Away.
He played heartthrob Dylan ‘Dutchy’ Mulholland in Sea Patrol and even shared a screen with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the 2013 blockbuster.
Conrad said in 2020 there was a downside to being so famous.
Conrad pictured with his partner, Natalia Ladyko in 2021. The actor enjoyed a successful career on screen before picking up a camera himself
Conrad played heartthrob Dylan ‘Dutchy’ Mulholland in Sea Patrol in a successful acting career which spanned all of Australia’s major networks
‘As the Milkybar Kid in my younger days, I copped quite a bit of bullying for being one of the only kids in my neighbourhood to be on TV,’ he said.
‘I obviously enjoyed being teased so much that I decided to give everyone more ammunition and become a professional actor later on!’
He stepped away from acting in 2016 to pursue life as a photographer and now snaps action sports, portraiture and property.
Hovis: ‘Boy On The Bike’
The Hovis advert was shot on Gold Hill in Shaftebury in Dorset and poor Mr Barlow had to drag the bike up the hill more than 20 times during filming
Carl Barlow returned to the Dorset hill in 2017 to attempt the climb on an electric bike, which he said was much easier
The toils of the hardworking Hovis Boy, pushing his bike up a never-ending cobbled hill to backing music of Dvořák’s New World Symphony was first featured in an iconic 1973 advert, directed by Ridley Scott.
The advert, which continued to appear on television screens throughout the 80s and 90s, is set in an industrial town but was actually filmed on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset.
The heartwarming clip was voted the nation’s favourite TV advert of all time in 2006.
In 2017, Carl Barlow, 63, conquered the steep hill with the help of an electric bike – just 44 years after the short originally aired.
Mr Barlow, who enjoyed a thirty-year career as a firefighter after starring in the advert, said it was ‘strange’ to be back after all that time.
‘I remember I had to push the bike up the hill many times for the best part of the two days filming on Gold Hill.
The 1973 advert, which was directed by Ridley Scott, who would go on to direct classics including Gladiator and Alien
‘It was much easier this time around. I just glided up the hill,’ the former child actor explained.
The advert had such an impact when it was first released that it was later spoofed by The Two Ronnies.
Mr Barlow had been asked to audition when he was 13 and got the job because he could ride a bike and was happy to cut his hair.
‘After the advert I had some teasing at school due to the pudding basin-type haircut, but it was mostly in good fun.
‘Whenever I see the advert I find it quite fascinating to see my younger self, and it feels somewhat surreal.’
Dairylea: Would You Kiss Veronica Dribblethwaite?
Chris Hoyle stars as the ringleader in the advert and would go on to score an ongoing role in Coronation Street as Mark Redman
The advert features three young boys who claim that they would do anything to get their hands on some Dairylea, although they look less than pleased at the idea of kissing Veronica Dibblethwaite
The actor and playwright has recently been cast in a new BBC drama, Boat Story, which is being made by the studio that produced Fleabag
The kids would do anything for Dairylea, this advert says, as three young boys having a sleepover in a tent are disappointed by their haul of food for a midnight snack.
One says he would even kiss Veronica Dibblethwaite for the cheesy snack, although he looks much less keen when he’s told by his friends they’ll watch him do it.
Chris Hoyle – previously known as Chris Cook – was the ringleader in the advert and would go on to score an ongoing role in Coronation Street as Mark Redman.
He told I Love Manchester in 2018 that his life had been ‘completely changed’ by the instant fame.
‘I went from being a shy lad to having a bit of confidence. I’d never got a Valentine’s card in my life, and the year I was in Corrie I suddenly got loads in the post from fans.’
But the teenager ran into trouble after he was discovered with cannabis, making national headlines and losing his Coronation Street role.
‘I was devastated. It was a lot to handle. And it was difficult at the time to shake off the drugs thing. People used to shout things at me walking down the street. It went on for years.’
The actor found a second calling as a playwright, and his play The Newspaper Boy debuted in 2009 and was revived in a production for Queer Contact 2018.
‘I trained as an actor and I love being in the rehearsals, but writing gives me so much more creative freedom and control,’ he said.
‘Also, writing means I get to play every character in my head.’
Chris is currently filming in Yorkshire for a BBC drama, Boat Story, which is being made by the studio responsible for The Tourist and Fleabag.
Nestle: Breakaway Kid
The Breakaway kid thinks the chocolate bar is ‘wicked’. Played by Matthew Shaw, the child has stolen the chocolate from his sister
Matthew Shaw has had a varied career following his stint in the Breakaway adverts, including appearances on Shameless and Children In Need
The Breakaway bar, with its layers of chocolate and biscuit, was launched in 1970 and has been a pantry staple for families ever since.
And in a 1986 advert, Matthew Shaw plays a young lad who has stolen one of the chocolates from his sister.
‘It’s wicked,’ the child actor says at the end of the advert.
But Mr Shaw has continued performing since his turn as the hat-wearing chocolate thief and has had an extensive career in smaller productions.
He attended the Elliot Clark School of Dance and Drama before landing jobs at Children in Need and on Shameless.
The Merseyside based singer has featured in countless pantomimes and starred on cruise ship productions of West End favourites, including Cinderella.
Nestle: Rolos Are Too Good To Share
Cees Molenaar starred in the 1995 award-winning Rolo elephant advert, refusing to share his sweets with a baby elephant
Philip Childs plays the older version of the selfish chocolate-lover, who gets his comeuppance because ‘elephants never forget’
Philip Childs (left) and Cees Molenaar on the twentieth anniversary of the filming of the Rolo Elephant advert
Cees Molenaar starred in the 1995 award-winning Rolo elephant advert as a child, where he refuses to offer a young elephant one of the caramel chocolates.
But the selfishness comes back to haunt him (or Philip Childs, who plays the grown-up chocolate lover) when the elephant smacks him in the face during a parade.
The advert was originally supposed to be for Dutch audiences but was used internationally after it proved very popular.
The Rolo advert fought off stiff competition to scoop the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1996, beating Nike’s Good Vs Evil spot, which starred Eric Catona.
Philip Childs is a stage actor with credits on and off the West End. He has also scored roles in Emmerdale, Eastenders and The Bill.
In a piece written in 2015, Mr Childs described how he got the job and his joy when the advert was popular.
‘I have lost count of the number of people asking me if I got regular free samples or the times that children would shout “neh neh neh neh neh!” at me in the street, but I loved it.
‘The story still continues with a joyful reunion with the some of the creative and production team and the grown-up Cees, now 27 and fluent in English, to celebrate 20 years since the making of the ad.
‘And the news that it had won an award for being the best Dutch commercial of all time made me very proud indeed.’
Mr Molenaar is now a father and worked for Klaas Puul in the Netherlands in fish processing.
The pair reunited in 2015, 20 years after the advert was filmed, to celebrate its success.
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