Disability charity Scope has released an online spoof of the iconic Cadbury’s Milk Tray adverts – casting disabled comedian Adam Hills (as the dashing Milk Tray Man) and actress/singer Holly Valance (as his leading lady).
From 1968 to 2003, Cadbury’s Milk Tray Man plunged from speedboats into shark-infested waters, dangled from cable cars and jumped from helicopters to deliver a box of chocolates to his love interest.
Q&A with Adam Hills
Do you have a favourite Milk Tray ad?
I’d never seen the Milk Tray adverts until I was asked to do this campaign so I went online and researched them all. I think the shark is my favourite. Maybe it’s because I’m Australian or I like the implausibility of it all. Or maybe it’s because the shot of the shark was clearly taken on another day!
How do you feel about playing the Milk Tray man?
I’m honoured to be playing the Milk Tray man. I think the only thing missing from the original Milk Tray man is a good cause. Sure the lady loves Milk Tray and you’re keeping her happy, but that’s just one person. I like the idea I can be both. I’m a cross between Milk Tray man and Ghandi – doing good deeds while also having good hair.
How do you feel about starring alongside Holly Vallance?
I can think of no better way to end my trip. I’ve been in the UK for three weeks, filmed two episodes of the Last Leg, an election special as part of election night coverage and I went on Chatty Man. I’ve had the most amazing days in London and it’s culminated in shooting a scene with Holly Vallance. Yeah… no one’s going to believe me…
Do you shop in charity shops? If so, what’s your most random purchase?
I take a lot of stuff to charity shops. I’m a big believer in taking a big bag down to the charity shop. I love the idea that they’re being used again. My best buy recently was with my daughter, who was four at the time, she’s five now. We went into a charity shop and she saw a pink cap, she said ‘I want to buy that’. It was AUS$1 so I said ‘yeah ok’. For weeks afterwards people were saying that’s a great hat. It’s a really good hat – $1 from charity shop and she chose it.
Do you donate your unwanted goods to charity shops?
I donated a pair of running shoes to a charity shop and I signed them. I think more people who are in the media or have a profile, more charity shops should get on board with this and get celebrity donations. People would pay more.
How does your impairment affect you? Both the positives and the challenges
It’s given me a really good career! I’ve been really lucky my disability doesn’t really affect me. I think having the right people around and having the right support really helps.
Do you think you get treated differently as a disabled person?
No one knows I’m disabled most of the time my foot is hidden. Going through airport metal detectors… That’s one! Every time I go through Dubai they take me off to a side room and take my foot off and put it on a metal detector. So I have to sit in a quiet room while I know my foot is going through a metal detector. Heavens.
Is there a difference in the way disability is seen in the UK and in Australia?
I think two things – disability in Australia was seen quite differently after the Paralympics and I think a similar thing happened here. I think the Paralympics made disability not only ok but makes it wonderful but unfortunately in Britain there’s a real stigma attached to the benefits culture and I think somehow benefits culture and leeching has been associated with disability and that’s the difference here. Disabled in some people’s minds, equals benefits, equals scrounging off the state, and that’s a real problem in Britain at the moment.
What has driven you to succeed?
I think my love of doing comedy has led to my success. I’ve always wanted to perform, and to get better at what I do. So I took stand up seriously, treated it as both a profession and a craft, and just kept working. You learn from every gig, and you get better after every show, so the more you work, the better you become. Also, it’s important to keep challenging yourself. Come up with new jokes, a new show, play to new audiences.
How does The Last Leg help to change attitudes on disability?
We literally made talking about disability issues ok. We knew that people would have qualms about discussing disability during the Paralympics, and we knew we’d have to ease that tension before we could do our show. Once the first ‘is it ok’ came in we knew how to deal with it all. The important part was to actually answer questions, to be informative. In many ways we almost normalise disability, while still making it funny.
We were once asked the question – is it ok to ask how a guy with no arms wipes his bum? We had a lot of fun with it, but never actually answered the question, and the next day we copped criticism. I then realised it was because we didn’t give an answer, therefore we just looked like we were being gratuitous. So the next night we actually answered the question. The turning point for us was when we started getting ‘is it ok’ questions from other Paralympians. The fact that they jumped on board made everyone else feel ok about it.What kind of a role model do you want to be?
Occasionally someone will come up to me after a show and tell me they have a child, who has lost a limb, and realised after watching our show that it doesn’t mean their life can’t still be amazing. That’s the kind of role model I’m happy to be. If me jumping around a country house like the Milk Tray Man helps a ten-year-old with a prosthetic to maintain a positive attitude about it, then I’ll be happy.
There are now some impressive prosthetics on the market – what’s yours like?
Mine is currently painted green and gold to celebrate the most recent Australian Ashes win. However it also has a tattoo of Paul O’Grady’s dog Olga on it. Technologically though, it probably needs an upgrade. Alex Brooker just got a new leg with hairs on it, and I am suffering from prosthesis envy.
Last year, Scope’s spoof of the 1980s Levi’s laundrette advert (below) featuring disabled model Jack Eyers, was a huge success with nearly 200,000 hits on YouTube.
Declutter and donate to Scope
Former Neighbours star and hit song “Kiss Kiss” singer Holly Vallence plays Adam’s love interest in the ad. In real life, she regularly donates to charity shops, including designer goodies she no longer wears.
Holly says: “We have so much clutter in our lives – we’re often only using a small percentage of what’s in our wardrobes, when someone else could be getting great use out of it. That’s why it’s important that people donate their unwanted goods to charity shops and why I’m supporting Scope’s Great Donate appeal.
Each bag donated raises vital funds for Scope
On average, each bag of donated goods could help Scope raise around £20 for its work with disabled people and their families.
Visit www.scope.org.uk/hero to watch the advert and find details of how you can be a Great Donate hero and donate to your nearest Scope shop.