Dan Francis: an apology (of sorts).

I helped create the Halfords idents that accompany this Year’s Tour de France coverage on ITV4.

Having put 3 months of hard work into them – and the attendant documentary – I’m keen to see how they’re received. The web is of course the first place to look.

Not everyone likes everything and Twitter is an ideal platform for naysayers to vent their spleen. A handful of viewers don’t like the idents at all. To be fair, much of this was down to repetition – if you’re watching 3 hours of cycling, you’re going to see the same one more than once. Unless it’s supremely bland – and many other idents are – repetition will grate specially for an event that gets 5 hours coverage a day for 3 weeks.

Some people just don’t like Dan Francis – in the idents at least. It’s interesting that people are won over when they see the full documentary here:

It’s a strange one. At no point during the production did we think, “God, he’s so annoying, what are we gonna do?” It just didn’t occur to us. He was the perfect casting. He’s not an actor. We had the Tour de Francis idea first and cast specifically for someone with Frank or Francis in their name.

We wanted to represent the everyman – the chap holding down a day job, with a family and a genuine love of cycling. We wanted to show what happens when we challenge someone to take their cycling up a level, out of their comfort zone and emulate their heroes to some extent.

Dan, ambushed by a Frenchman talking French, of all things.

And we wanted to prove that a sub-£1000 Carrera Virago wouldn’t fall apart the minute you took it out on the road.

If you want to torture test a bike and the client is sponsoring the Tour de France, tackling some of its key stages makes perfect sense.

The truth is, we had one puncture on the flat (by the big wind turbines on Stage 6). Other than that, nothing snapped, sheered or failed.

Now, you can buy much better bikes if you can afford it and for many, many people, £1000 for any bike is just out if the question, so clearly we can’t please everyone.

But if you want to give non-cyclists an insight into why you ride or just enjoy a fellow enthusiast being given the chance to live the TdF dream, you could do worse than watch the documentary.

I promise you, he’s not as irritating as the idents might portray him.

As for the apology, it’s really directed at Dan. If we made you look annoying and prompt people to put their TV screen through, I am sorry. It wasn’t our intention or indeed our impression having watched them back – many more times than any viewers will ever see!

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Barclaycard: When Amy Childs met Brian Blessed

Well they never actually met, but we did combine their talents in the same project.

You see, in between parking in Stevenage and returning in the evening, I go to work – I don’t just commute just so I can blog about it.

And at work, I make adverts – mostly the sort that go on the internet and generally get in the way of what you wanted to do in the first place. And now I can proudly reveal the latest thing-what-I-done for you here. It’s for Barclaycard. It’s to mark the release of their new mobile contactless technology. You see, now you can pay for stuff just by swiping your mobile phone – if you have the right phone and a Barclaycard account. Cool? Yes.

So, given that this is such a massive step-change in the way we pay for things, we thought that now might be a good time to take stock and take a look at how paying has evolved over the years, starting with cavemen, via Vikings, Romans and Georgians and ending up in the present day in Chiswick High Road.

If you like pigs, fur, dinosaur milk, shoes, The Only Way Is Essex, Brian Blessed, the bloke off the Sky TV ad, another bloke off the trainline.com ads, wigs, man-bags, Norse washing up liquid, guyliner, tridents and Horrible Histories (Dominic Brigstocke directs that and this), then this is for you. What’s not to like?

PS. This is the long version, featuring the ‘lost’ Viking scene. Kind of exclusive.

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