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Cheese... Shane McGowan shows off his new pearly whites for the People In Need advert

Cheese... Shane McGowan shows off his new pearly whites for the People In Need advert

Cheese... Shane McGowan shows off his new pearly whites for the People In Need advert

Watching the ads for the upcoming Telethon bonanza, you could be forgiven for thinking no feat was beyond the event's organisers.

After all, they got hurling hero Sean Og O'Halpin to take up a cricket bat, they got rocker Shane McGowan to surrender his legendary teeth to the dentist's chair, and they got TV's Lucy Kennedy to share a bed with Podge and Rodge. All in the name of "how far will you go for this year's People in Need?".

But there was one scenario that was just a step too far. "We asked Pauline McLynn to revitalise Mrs Doyle [from Father Ted], she didn't want to do that, she wanted to distance herself from Mrs Doyle," says Dave Murphy, head of TV at McConnells which organised the ad campaigns.

McLynn's refusal was a disappointment, but it was by no means the end of the road for the creative team charged with putting together the media campaign around this year's Telethon, as O'Halpin, McGowan and Podge and Rodge were only too happy to help out with the TV ads, along with Senator David Norris, who lends his services for the radio ads.

"Telethon hasn't been on for a few years so we really needed to raise the awareness to make sure it works well this time round," says Murphy. "We'd worked on the campaigns in the late 1990s and used everyone from Bob Geldof to the Corrs. This time round we drew up a list of celebrities that we thought we could get, and then worked out a set of scenarios they could be in."

McGowan was the first one approached. "We got in touch with him through Frank Murray, who used to manage The Pogues," says Murphy. "We got word back that he was interested and we knew he'd be in town for a book launch.

"We designed the commercial so that Shane only needed to be there for half an hour and we shot the rest with a stand in, Frank actually plays the dentist for the whole thing."

O'Halpin was the next candidate but unlike McGowan he had to put in a whole day's work in "lashing rain" for his cricket game ad.

"He was very good, and members of the Irish cricket team gave their services as bowlers," says Murphy.

The Dillon hotel gave us the run of the hotel for free and we took it over as film crews tend to do," says Murphy. "We had Podge and Rodge up in the bed and Lucy going round half naked..."

All three ads were shot in a three-week period and edited in Windmill Lane which lent its services at knockdown rates. "Eircom are the sponsors and they put money towards the ads, RTE gave free promo time to run the ads, and once we mentioned 'People in Need' to anyone we approached everyone just rowed in brilliantly," says Murphy.

"People in Need is one of those things that just gets everyone behind it, because all of the money that's raised locally stays local so people can really see it working in their community."

This year's Telethon is on Friday, October 26.

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