A short screenplay for Ian McMillan

If you are old enough you may remember a series of TV adverts for Heineken lager. Generally someone would be depicted either doing something lamely or having a disappointing experience, and then they would drink the lager, whereupon their achievement or experience was instantly improved. A German-accented voice-over intoned, “Only Heineken can do this, because it refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.”

I would say the below is my favourite of the series but in fact I think it’s the only one I can remember. At the time it aired in the late 1980s I was a teenager studying English Literature at school and college, so beer and Wordsworth were much on my mind at the time. Watch the video (it’s only a minute long) and then read on.

Ian McMillan is one of my favourite people on Twitter. (In fact it would be nice to do a series of blog posts focusing on all my favourite Twitter accounts – an idea for another day, perhaps.) He’s a poet, author, BBC Radio broadcaster and general national treasure. Each morning he gets up at (or even before) the crack of dawn and goes for a walk around his native Barnsley. Then he gets back home and tweets these lovely little images and observations which he always prefixes “early stroll”. Do yourself a favour and do an advanced search on Twitter for these tweets and read through them. Here’s an example:

So my mind then put the memory of the Heineken advert and McMillan’s tweets together along with something else of which I am much fond and came up with the following.


The camera SWEEPS over the majestic countryside.

Orchestral classical music SURGES throughout.

Early stroll. Right damp and drizzly. There was some rubbish by the bus stop. Ah, no…


The camera SWEEPS through the streets, past the town hall and Victorian shop buildings.

Early stroll. Some pigeons were eating some chips someone had dropped. Oh, no, this is terrible…


Close on electric kettle boiling. A man’s hand takes a teabag from a box of YORKSHIRE TEA, puts it in a mug and pours the boiling water on. Steam BILLOWS.

IAN MCMILLAN approaches the kitchen table holding the steaming mug of tea in one hand and an iPad in the other. He sits down at the table, drinking from the mug. He puts the mug down smiling, and taps on the iPad.

Early stroll. The bus’s only passenger is light. A man pushes a baby in a pushchair flanked by two whippets. A room flickers underwater blue.

He stops tapping, takes another swig of tea and winks at the camera.


Close on a table laden with a Yorkshire Tea caddy, teapot, mugs, a plate of biscuits, an iPad showing Ian McMillan’s Twitter feed and a book of poems.

Only Yorkshire Tea can do this, because it refreshes the tweets other teas can’t reach.


I doubt Ian McMillan (or Alan Bennett come to that) would be likely to do an advert for Yorkshire Tea, and if they did they’d probably get a professional script-writer in, and also possibly avoid having to pay Heineken a royalty. But guys, if you like the above then feel free to use it. My fee, you might say poetically, is tea.