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Child actor from iconic Hovis ‘Boy on the Bike’ advert returns 50 years later to recreate the scene – now as a 64-year-old grandfather


The child actor from the iconic Hovis ‘Boy on the Bike’ advert has returned 50 years later to recreate the scene as a grandfather. 

Carl Barlow, 64, appeared in the iconic commercial aged 13 in 1973 where he was filmed struggling to push a bike with a basket full of freshly-baked bread up a steeped cobbled paved hill. 

The advert, set to brass band version of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, captured the nation’s hearts with Britons voting it in 2019 the most iconic and heartwarming of all time – beating Cadbury‘s 2007 commercial of a ‘gorilla’ drumming along to the Phil Collins hit ‘In The Air Tonight’.  

Although the commercial is supposed to be set in a fictional Yorkshire town, it was in fact filmed on Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset, which has one of the steepest streets in Britain. 

It was directed by Sir Ridley Scott six years before his Hollywood debut with Alien

Revisiting the picturesque street, Mr Barlow, now a 64 year old grandfather, rolled back the years to celebrate the 50th anniversary of an advertisement that was so successful it became part of the brand’s logo.

Carl Barlow has returned to iconic 'Hovis Hill', on Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset, to recreate the famous scene 50 years later - this time as a 64-year-old grandfather (pictured alongside 11-year-old Alex Freeman)

Carl Barlow has returned to iconic ‘Hovis Hill’, on Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset, to recreate the famous scene 50 years later – this time as a 64-year-old grandfather (pictured alongside 11-year-old Alex Freeman)

The original 1973 commercial shows a young boy with a basket full of freshly-baked bread struggling to get up the steeped cobbled hill. Set to brass band version of Dvorak's New World Symphony, it was voted by Britons in 2019 as the most iconic and heartwarming ad of all time

The original 1973 commercial shows a young boy with a basket full of freshly-baked bread struggling to get up the steeped cobbled hill. Set to brass band version of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, it was voted by Britons in 2019 as the most iconic and heartwarming ad of all time

Now, he has made the climb again wearing a similar outfit, with a retro bike, alongside 11-year-old Alex Freeman, who used a more up-to-date set of wheels as his modern day apprentice.

In the original advert, the narrator famously said: ‘Last up on round was Old Ma Peggotty’s house, it was like taking bread to the top of the world.

‘It was a grand ride back though.’

Mr Barlow then excitedly freewheels back down the hill with his legs spread to the sides, declaring in a heavy Yorkshire accent: ‘T’was like taking bread to top of the world. T’was a grand ride back though.’ 

The father-of-four, who went on to be a firefighter in London for 31 years before retiring and moving to Leicester, said: ‘This advert has been such a huge part of my life and I am delighted to come back to Gold Hill to recreate the iconic scene.

‘While it’s harder to make it to the top of the hill today, the ride back down is still just as great.’

Claire Parlour, marketing director at Hovis, said: ‘We’re honoured by the impact the Boy on the Bike advert has had over almost two generations and it’s clear that the advert’s core message of hard-work, family, the strength of community, and of course, delicious bread, still resonates with people today.’ 

Mr Barlow returned to the cobbled hill in 2017, 44 years after the original advert in, to finally conquer the steep pavement by riding an electric bike up it. 

Ridley Scott´s advert for Hovis featuring a boy pushing a bike (pictured) was re-mastered in 2019 for a new generation

Ridley Scott´s advert for Hovis featuring a boy pushing a bike (pictured) was re-mastered in 2019 for a new generation 

The 'Boy on the Bike' first aired in 1973 and tells the story of a little boy pushing a bike loaded with bread up a cobbled hill. Pictured is the remastered version

The ‘Boy on the Bike’ first aired in 1973 and tells the story of a little boy pushing a bike loaded with bread up a cobbled hill. Pictured is the remastered version 

Director Scott said in 2019: 'I'm thrilled that the "Boy on the Bike" is still regarded as such an iconic and heart-warming story which remains close to the heart of the nation.' Pictured: The original advert being shot

Director Scott said in 2019: ‘I’m thrilled that the “Boy on the Bike” is still regarded as such an iconic and heart-warming story which remains close to the heart of the nation.’ Pictured: The original advert being shot 

Wearing a flat cap and similar outfit to the one he wore in the original advert, he even had a basket of bread as he powered up it with ease, leaving normal cyclists in his wake. 

The occasion was for the filming of a promotional advert for bike retailer Evans Cycles. 

In 2019 the original was digitally remastered in conjunction with the British Film Institute (BFI) national archive with the hopes of introducing the advert to a new generation. 

Last year, visitors were irked by scaffolding being used to cover a cottage down the hill, which was sold at auction in November 2021 for £165,000 – £15,000 over the guide price, saying it spoilt the view.

One visitor said: ‘We drove an hour out of our way to visit the famous Hovis Hill.

‘We were really hoping to get some good shots to be able to frame and, of course, for Instagram, but we couldn’t really take one in all its glory as there was so much scaffolding on display.’

Another added: ‘Yes, the sheeting is a bit of a shame, it has ruined it a bit.’

This month, a run-down Grade II-listed derelict cottage on the hill went on the market for £535,000 after being restored to its former glory following a major renovation. 



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