NO wonder David Beckham looks confused in the new Sky Sports advert. He pops out for a jog, takes a turn off the high street and all of a sudden he’s a long way from London.
The retired England star pauses for a moment to take in his new surroundings before setting off again, stopping at the Red Lion to check the score. Beckham celebrates a goal with Middlesbrough fans then bursts out of a side door, continuing a journey that takes him up and down the country while ‘the craziest season ever’ unfolds.
Within six days of being launched last week, the 60-second ad had clocked up almost 7million views on Facebook and over 3,000 comments. But Sky’s marketing team may have underestimated the backlash they’d get.
While a few praised the new ad, most blamed Sky for England’s woeful performance at the Euros or urged others to drop their subscription and spend their money on supporting their local non-league team instead.
The inquisitive ones out there were wondering where the ad was filmed though. Since Beckham’s first stop is a pub full of Middlesbrough fans, Teesside was a fair assumption, but given the stone-built houses and the mill in the background, Burnley was a better guess. So which northern mill town did the global superstar stumble into?
It being local and me being observant (some might say nosey!), I’d like to think I would have got it anyway, but having walked down that very street just an hour before I saw the ad, it was a no-brainer.
The street is Wirksmoor Road in New Mills, situated on the edge of the Peak District and Greater Manchester. Beckham emerges at the junction with Jodrell Street, with the surrounding hills in the background, although Sky have used a bit of jiggery pokery to flip the image so that the Art Theatre is on the left rather than the right, as it is in reality.
Goldenballs then runs along Wirksmoor Road, with the chimney of the Swizzels Matlow sweet factory towering above the terraced houses, before we see the old hairdressers and hardware shop, which was converted into a pub for the Sky ad.
After running through a London estate, Beckham returns up north and pulls his beanie on as snow begins to fall. The red-brick terrace suggests that this time the ex-United midfielder is closer to his old stomping ground. Indeed, it’s Hamilton Street in Ashton, overlooked by the factory on Ryecroft Street, with Sky using a bit more video trickery to place a pillar post box on the corner.
The northern filming took place in one day towards the end of May. After being delayed in New Mills (several cars had to be shifted), the Sky cameras made the short trip to Ashton, where a group of Everton fans had been waiting all day. The street was closed off, with a snow machine brought in, although the shots with the Everton fans didn’t make the final cut.
Some on social media have lamented the fact David Beckham was right on their doorstep and they didn’t even know about it. Well, they need not beat themselves up about it because he didn’t set foot in New Mills or Ashton.
Although Becks was on location for the London scenes, green screen technology and a look-a-like were used for the northern ones. Even the shots inside the pub were filmed in London so they had Boro fans down south and in New Mills.
It meant a return to the nation’s TV screens for the small Derbyshire mill town after Church Lane, home of its non-league football team, was chosen as the location for this summer’s Sky 1 sitcom ‘Rovers’.
The Millers also featured in a Samsung advert. Dubbed the ‘worst team in England’ after failing to win a game all season, they received a team-talk from Harry Redknapp via Samsung’s Virtual Reality headset.
Not even that could help them stop the rot though. Maybe they’ll have to lure Becks out of retirement. After all that running, he’ll be fit enough!