Wonderfully Dated Travelcard Adverts From The 1980s And 90s

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 56 months ago
Wonderfully Dated Travelcard Adverts From The 1980s And 90s

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Not a bird. Not a plane. Supercar.

They don't make 'em like they used to. Travelcards became a thing in 1983, and some marvellously creaky TV ads were created to plug them. Here, with the aid of something we've discovered called YouTube, are five of the best/most cringeworthy.

1. Monopoly board animation (pre CGI), 1983

Boy we wish we were around in 1983 — a time when weekly travelcards cost £4.70, Billie Jean was number one for seven weeks and Thatcher won a landslide victory (well, two out of three ain't bad). The adverts to promote these cheap travelcards were good too, as shown in this cutesy video, in which Dinky toys zoom around a Monopoly board — and we learn that you can even use your travelcard to visit a wayward relative in jail. We'd love to know if this was done with stop animation, magnets, or largely just by pushing them about a bit. Really though, who needs CGI.

2. Stop throwing money down the tube, yeah, 1984

Another simple idea, another effective advert. A fake Bank station platform is used to illustrate how you're spaffing away good money that could be spent on Angel Delight and Scalextric cars. We're intrigued to know what the terrifying programme at the start of this video is.

3. Achingly unhip robo-roller-derby, 1989

Well SOMEONE had just been to see Starlight Express at the Victoria Apollo. "Tube tube... train train... bus bus..." mumbles some voiceover bloke — who might have been better suited to selling biros in WH Smiths — in this achingly unhip robo-roller-derby. Dressed to the nines (by Timmy Mallett, no less) our mulleted daytrippers wheel through a cardboard Cutty Sark and Covent Garden — often twice (that's one way to deal with a lack of material in the editing suite). In short: we effing love this ad.

4. Jacob Rees-Mogg and his bus-train-tube-franken-car, 1990

Well SOMEONE had just been watching the Christopher Reeve Superman franchise. By the dawn of the 1990s, clearly enough people had invested in travelcards for the commercial budget to be cranked up. This mini epic sees Jacob Rees-Mogg play a poor man's Clark Kent, saving a poor woman's Lois Lane with the aid of a bus-train-tube-franken-car. Following so far? There's also some confusion as to whether the hero here is Supercar, or Supercard, but fuck it, this was the 90s and all the ad people were blissfully pissed on Holsten Pils. Happily, Supercar was an actually a thing, and can still be seen today, strutting itself at heritage events.

5. Family day out (with added bullets), 1993

1993 Ad Person: "Right. Here's what we've got. The tube is fast, right? Fast like a bullet. And London is full of fun family stuff, yes? Stuff like the Planetarium and Madame Tussauds. But in this advert all these family things are actually foil balloons, OK? And this tube bullet is fired at the strings of these balloons, with me? And then they start to drift away and, er, they, er... Sorry, I drank 17 pints of Holsten Pils last night."

Last Updated 14 January 2019