Bell’s toasts a selfless act


The Bells Whisky television advert, The Reader, tells the heart-warming story of
an everyday man who accomplishes the remarkable, despite his circumstances.

If you haven’t yet seen the new commercial, best you reach for a box of Kleenex.
In a beautifully moving two minutes, you will undoubtedly find yourself battling a
quivering chin and insurmountable waves of all things warm and fuzzy.

A collaboration between creative agency King James and production company
Velocity Films, the advert portrays a touching tale which resonates with many
South Africans.

Comments Greg Gray, director of the production: “This commercial was to form
the third in a series, building on the phrase: “Give that man a Bell’s. The intention
was to tell the story of an ordinary man who goes to extraordinary lengths to
become literate, to enable himself to read his son’s book. The story needed to
feel authentic, honest and touching. It needed to celebrate the father’s journey,
leaving the viewer with nothing but admiration for the old man.’

As an emotionally evocative and inspiring journey unfolds, it becomes clear that
the father’s noble act is more than deserving of the well-known Bell’s catch
phrase, delivered at the end of the spot. This is made even more poignant by a
humble and honest performance delivered by lead actor, Joseph Mydell.

“We cast the net far and wide. We wanted good actors but ones we hadn’t seen
in soapies. There are not many of those left locally. We then looked in London,’
says Gray, who believes they were able to cast a well suited actor in the leading
role: “He was first and foremost a superb actor. He was gentle and humble. He
looked the right age. His father had been illiterate and so the story meant a lot
to him. He really resonated with it.’

Producer Helena Woodfine, production manager Mitzi Bunce, director of
photography Paul Gilpin, key grip Toni Schoeman, gaffer Simon Francis, art
director Chris Bass and editor Ricky Boyd were the key crew who worked
together to make an effective story come alive in a short space of time.

“I did the previous commercial so we were all on the same page. The story was
relatively simple and I was given the task of visually telling it,’ says Gray.
The commercial was shot using an Arri Alexa digital motion picture camera and
Master Prime lenses over three days in the week before Christmas 2013. Filming
took place at a number of locations in Cape Town including Seapoint Library,
Parow Library, Goodwood houses and central bookstores, a barber shop and a

The advert continues to gain an incredible response by viewers, who are
encouraged by the persistence of an extra special human spirit, that is
celebrated with the clinking of tumblers filled with that “extra special


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here