We all like to browse and reminisce during our tea breaks, and what better than to enjoy the massive back catalogues of online videos on the internet. Mike Humble kicks of this new feature by going back to 1984 shortly after the launch of the Montego with this corporate film that shows the salesman how to get the best of out of the Montego’s unique selling points and hammers home the importance of knowing your product knowledge.
Well, there I was talking to Robert Lindsay and his stunning wife, Rosemarie Ford, in London’s West End just last week. I actually kid you not but, if the truth be told, it was more purely by chance. My other half gave me one of the best Christmas presents I could ever have wished for to see my all time hero Bruce Forsyth perform at his spiritual home – The London Palladium.
We had some of the best tickets in the house and, upon arrival, we were ushered away from the common folk and guided to a private “by invitation only” area. It featured its own private bar and one of the poshest toilets I have ever seen – there was even a bidet and plush hand towels… none of your paper things or electric hand drier rubbish. It was one of my most surreal experiences in recent years as the room was full of people you can place but battle to name and I am so very glad I took notice of ‘er indoors and dressed up smart in my new suit and tie. Anyway, I sauntered up to the bar just as Rosemarie Ford knocked over a jar of toothpicks and Robert looked over to me and rolled his eyes skywards.
Later on during the interval while the missus rubbed shoulders with Bruce’s beautiful wife – the ex Miss World Wilnelia Merced-Forsyth and his friends and family (all of which were sat all around us) I went outside for a quick smoke and who was there stood on the pavement? Robert and Rosemarie. We had one of those odd and quickly struck up conversations whereby he asked what I did for a living and this website came to be mentioned – he likes his cars it seems. I asked him if he remembered a corporate video for Austin Rover and he pondered for a moment and looked up at the blue sky as if to gather his memory files. After a brief moment, he looked straight at me and asked “is that the one with Peter Egan alongside me?”
Despite what the public may think, celebrities star in corporate films all the time as they are quick money and fill in the blanks of their working calendar – they often forget about these throw away roles. Robert – to us old farts, will be best remembered for being cast as Woolfie in the BBC sitcom Citizen Smith while younger readers may know him for playing the harassed dentist Ben Harper in My Family. With a little assistance from yours truly, Robert remembered what the synopsis was to the Austin Rover Group training video he starred in 31 years ago and seemed to enjoy our brief five minute chat shared over those Kings of ice breakers – a drink and a cigarette.
The storyline is of an AR salesman who is dreaming of a Caribbean holiday when, all of a sudden, he is visited by a kind of Ghost of Christmas future-type character played the wonderful Peter Egan – Shrimpy Flintshire in Downton Abbey and Paul in Ever Decreasing Circles. Robert’s character has good intentions but seriously lacks his product knowledge somewhat and his visitor shows him the selling points and advantages of the Austin Montego. He is shown a mock meeting after an open evening goes wrong – it’s here he learns the importance of being prepared and knowledgeable. This video was filmed by BL Cars’ own TV workshop unit and was just one of dozens of training films the public never really got to see. As a bonus it gains points for its early 1980s synth tune which sounds like a wannabe Vangellis impression.
I have loads of these films going right up the late 1990s and I never tire of watching them. Despite what many people may think, Austin Rover and latterly Rover Group sales and marketing information and training were a force to be reckoned with within the motor trade – a force that other manufacturers were often quite envious of. This particular one is on the Maestro and Montego Owners Club’s YouTube site.
Anyway, to close, enjoy this film with Robert’s blessing as we go back to 1984. Also, keep an ear open for the “showroom-speak” language used with buzzwords like “conquest sales” and “prospects” – words that still grind the teeth of showroom sales staff to this day. It is, of course, utterly naff and corny but lovely to watch. You might just spot one or two other rival cars and a couple of other known TV faces.
Travel back and enjoy yourself with this wonderful corporate film by clicking here.
[Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, the Maestro and Montego Owners Club’s YouTube channel now appears to have been removed and so the video featured in this article can no longer be accessed via the link above.]
Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
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