Chimpanzees and Paul Daniels Perform MagicKeith
A chimpanzees tea party with magician Paul Daniels.
Way back in the 1950’s the antics of the chimpanzees, dressed in human clothes, drinking from cups and eating jam sandwiches, caused a sensation with the British public.
An advertising exec. had an idea. Why not go a stage further and use their obvious ability to mimic people in a TV campaign?
The PG tips chimps were created and delighted viewers for over 25 years. Even now the adverts, which made the tea Britain’s best-selling brand, are widely and fondly remembered.
The young chimps became stars and earned a fortune for the zoo where they lived.
However a new Channel 5 documentary reveals that away from the cameras there was a darker side to teaching animals to mimic us humans.
Once they were no longer wanted to promote tea the chimps struggled to adapt to normal animal life, paying a price for their fleeting stardom.
The first PG tips TV commercial was screened in 1956, recreating a chimps’ tea party in an elegant mansion.
It was a big hit and the tea flew off the shelves, sparking a demand for more daring adverts.
The makers turned to Molly Badham, a former pet shop owner in the Midlands who had a special interest in primates and had adopted a few orphan chimpanzees.
Molly loved animals but she had an eccentric approach to their welfare, treating the apes more like her own children. They wore nappies, received treats such as cake and one elderly chimpanzee was even allowed the occasional cigarette.
She agreed to help train them to perform in the commercials and in the following years taught an array of unusual tricks.
One early hit featured chimps Johnny and Rosie playing cowboys and included the line: “wanna drinkee stranger?”
Their voices were often provided by celebrities of the time , including Peter Sellers and Bob Monkhouse, and the chimps had their own road show.