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Tetley Tea Folk

Posted by Big Boo on February 10th, 2009

The Tetley Tea Folk were a group of little characters who were used for many years to advertise Tetley Tea Bags.  The first advert featuring them appeared in 1973, and they were used right up until 2001 when they were finally deemed not modern enough and were dropped.

The folk were obviously only around three inches tall since they were usually spotted walking about on a table with a blue gingham tablecloth amongst the teapot, cups and plates.  They all wore blue overalls, except for Gaffer who was the oldest and obviously the guy in charge – he wore a blue suit.  Over their clothes they wore long white coats, and each had a pair of comfy brown slippers and a strange peaked cap that flopped down most of their back.

As already mentioned Gaffer was in charge, and had a thick Yorkshire accent as he was voiced by the late Brian Glover.  Over the years we gradually were introduced to various members of the clan, probably the most memorable of which was Sydney, who was a little simple and often ended up being chosen as the fall guy for anything that might turn out dangerous.

Maurice was an inventor, as you’ll see in the video I’ve chosen later on, whilst Clarence was an excitable young man who made sure all the other Tea Folk got up in the morning.  Then there was Gordon the gardener, Archie who was the Gaffer’s young nephew, and Tina, the only female Tea Folk person who didn’t even appear until the early 1990’s.

Most of the ads were accompanied by a very catchy and distinctive jingle, and there were a number of common phrases that were always used.  Initially it was incredibly important for us to know that each teabag had 2000 perforations to “let flavour flood out“, as Gaffer put it.  There were a number of ending slogans used, such as “that’s better, that’s Tetley“, “only Tetley will do“, and my personal favourite, “Tetley make teabags make tea“, which was often sung along to the jingle.