A HEAD OF HIS TIME

I.

On the advice of a Facebook friend, I took a bite of Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” this week, and you know, what? It’s a really tasty sitcom.

Last night I watched the fourth episode which centered around a charity ball thrown by the lead female character, Rebecca, whose ex-husband, Rupert, cheated on her. Up until now Rupert’s been off-camera, only being described (derogatorily), or glimpsed in newsprint—over Rebecca’s shoulder—where we see the never-ending paparazzi shots of him cavorting with his young dalliances.

Rupert made his first real appearance at the ball, and, as expected, he was both dashing and dreadful. Halfway through the final scene I realized I recognized the actor playing him but had no idea who he was.

A quick search led me to the British actor, Anthony Stewart Head. As I scrolled through his long list of credits I was struck by two things:

1. Anthony Head has played a great many characters named Rupert in his career;
2. Although I’d seen many of his past performances, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew him from some place else. Somewhere more, um, intimate.

OCD as I am, I doggedly dug deeper, until at last I found it: that moment in my past when our worlds collided—or, rather, clinked.   

II.

In 1987, Nestlé ran an ad campaign for British television featuring Tony and Sharon, fictional characters who slowly fall in love after Sharon borrows a jar of Nescafé instant coffee from Tony. The 12 “episodes” of these soap opera-style commercials were a huge hit. The Gold Blend Couple, as they were known, were played by Anthony Head and Sharon Maughan. Here is the first episode which aired in England:

(And no: this is not where I knew Mr. Head from. Let me continue…)

In 1990, Nestlé brought the couple and their love story to American consumers, with a few variations. In the U.S. version, “Gold Blend” becomes “Taster’s Choice,” and Tony (now Michael) loses his accent. Here is the second episode which aired in the United States (the first seems to have disappeared):

Wanting to arouse more customer involvement, Nestlé launched their “Taster’s Choice Most Romantic First Date” contest. Participants were asked to describe, in 250 words or less, their most romantic first date. Presumably, it would involve coffee-drinking.

Here is my (entirely fictitious) entry:

As you might have guessed by now, I was one of the (10?) winners. I was flown to Los Angeles and put up in a fancy hotel (I cannot remember which one), where I enjoyed a lovely lobster lunch with none other than Mr. Head and Ms. Maughan.

I wish I could say it was an experience I will never forget because, well, I’d completely forgotten about it until last night.

END

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