RIP Barry Scott, Bleach Salesman For a Doomed Generation

Cillit Bang has killed off Barry Scott, their shouting anti-hero, obsessed with limescale and grime, but what of his legacy?

by Joel Golby
12 July 2016, 3:30pm

I remember the first time I saw Barry Scott. I was barely stirring on a sofa, slumping there in that chewy grey summer between sixth form and university, watching Kilroy, or something, watching This Morning. And then, honk: enter stage left, Barry Scott, a thick head of hair combed only with water, a pink-thru-purple shirt mostly buttoned over a crisp white tee, sleeves flipped to the elbows, in some sort of gleamingly industrial but still quite anonymously QVC-looking kitchen, hands on hips, and boom: like a foghorn, like the angels of a thousand taxi drivers shouting "what's your name mate?" on a pally 3am club run back home to Worksop, those words, words so iconic you could etch them in the very stone tablets Moses bought down from the mountain, "HI," Barry Scott shouting, his eyes somehow smiling broader than his mouth, "I'M BARRY SCOTT." And lo, he came forth to us. And lo we were blessed by him.

Nothing about Barry Scott makes sense. Firstly: his name isn't even Barry Scott. Barry Scott is played by an actor called Neil Burgess, who also played Brian McFadden's manager in the Real To Me video (???), a removals man in two episodes of Life Begins (??), and Male Paramedic #1 in a Waking The Dead two-parter from 2005 (?). You feel that Neil Burgess ceased to exist one day, though. Neil Burgess is Barry Scott; Barry Scott is Neil Burgess. And yet he is entirely a construct. Barry Scott is at once real and not real. He is Schrodinger's sprayable bleach mascot.

Second up: there is no other advert on earth that starts with the words, "Hi, I'm [insert name here]," and that includes videos where a celebrity is shilling something, and they need to introduce themselves to lend credo. Like: you never see Beyoncé stride into a chrome-and-tile kitchen, say, "Hi: I'm Beyoncé," then desperately open a Diet Pepsi. Michael Parkinson never has to introduce himself when he's selling his and-you-get-this-handsome-free-pen life insurance. Don't you see? When Barry Scott strode into that fictional kitchen in 2005, he changed the fucking game. He flipped the concept of advertising entirely on its head.

Third up, when deep analysing the role of Barry Scott and his place in the greater cannon of British culture, you need to consider how much of him was invented by advertising minds – men with £500 rimless classes and Oxford collars and who legitimately say the word "booyakasha!" when they have a marketable idea – and how much of him was just ethereal, channelled from the spirits, pure unadulterated Scott. Because if Barry Scott was invented by a man who never had the grades to do architecture but already had a deposit down in Clapham so had to work there in advertising instead, then essentially he is one of the 20th century's finest artistic works, a piece of such genius that it transcends the form and the medium in which it appears. Essentially: if Barry Scott was just someone going, "what if we have a deliberately bad, loud man advertise our bleach, for eleven straight years", then the entire Barry Scott oeuvre deserves to be hung in the Tate.

Sadly, Barry Scott is dead now (and properly dead: like many great cult figures, he was the subject of a death hoax back in 2014, but he remains very much alive, as in the flesh-and-blood Barry Scott-Neil Burgess assimilation, although he is also dead, as an advertising character, as I am trying to explain) (you will notice that, like most things regarding Barry Scott, this is complex), dead for real this time after Cillit Bang killed his own peculiar brand of anti-advertising off. In January they launched this, the sexiest bleach advert known to man, and the writing was on the wall for Scott. Today they have compiled this official farewell. Barry Scott is dead. Long live Barry Scott.

But what of Barry Scott's legacy? For all of us, he will hold some special place in our advertisement consuming hearts. We try and be above it, but we can't: we're all fond of the Tango Man, of Flat Eric, Sylvester Stallone pretending to like bread, John Lewis' moon paedo. Consider this: there are people who legitimately like the Compare the Market meerkats. Advertising is washed over us all day every day, and certain lumps in the water float to the top, become beloved. Barry Scott was one of them. A shouting anti-hero, obsessed with limescale and grime.

Scott came from a place from before advertising got too wry, too self aware, too scan-this-QR-code-to-download-the-app, too hashtag, too we-know-what-we're-doing-when-we-go-viral-for-being-bad. Scott is the quintessential 'dad who's been left alone in the house for a weekend and doesn't know how to clean a tap'. He's your uncle who always cheerily shouts "CHECK OUT THE TITS ON THAT" when you're at a garden party. Barry Scott. Barry Scott is for the stoners, the up until 4am-ers, the unemployed, the waiting for the afternoon shift-ers, everyone who's been up all night but has an appointment that afternoon and somehow needs to stay awake. Barry Scott stands astride daytime TV, telling everyone how much bleach they need. Barry Scott. Imagine you are a burgeoning drum and bass DJ who two weeks ago torrented a half-corrupt copy of Ableton and you're looking to make a 30-second remix to make six of your friends and nobody else alive laugh: you're going to sample Barry Scott saying "I'M BARRY SCOTT". Barry Scott, Barry Scott, Barry Scott. In a world of clean and glossy advertising hunks he was a thick haired throwback. Barry Scott. Barry Scott, living inside the fractured body of Neil Burgess, alone in their two-bed dwelling in Dewsbury, on the rum at 8am. Barry Scott. Barry Scott's complimentary case of golden handshake bleach glints at him from the shiny kitchen surface. No, Barry. Barry Scott. No, Neil. Barry Scott, alone in a world slowly growing grimier, unable to tell us where limescale lurks, unable to tell us how best to clean a window, unable to demonstrate with a fine chamois just how filthy your tiles are. Barry Scott in a cagoule on the top of a windy moor, shouting "BANG AND THE DIRT IS GONE" into the cold grey air, his wisdom scattered to the wind. Barry Scott. He deserves a bronze and immaculately clean statue. He deserves to be remembered. Instead he was replaced by a dancer. In 2005 he screamed his way onto our screens, lungs bursting with stilted enthusiasm. Today Cillit Bang fold him away forever, tucking him under the kitchen sink to be forgotten. Goodbye, saviour of our screens, guardian of our grouting. Bye, Barry Scott.


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