IT’S all hail to the ale as TV bosses order a second round of the magnificent Al Murray’s Happy Hour.
But some viewers have been mystified by one aspect of the Saturday night series starring everyone’s favourite pub landlord.
While Al has been a great success, ITV1 has called time on the commercial breaks during the show.
Two of the three breaks have consisted entirely of internal ads for other ITV programmes.
Last Saturday, for example, the first 90-second commercial break advertised forthcoming ITV1 drama Mobile and ITV4 American import Smith.
The second 60-second break was devoted to a trailer for tonight’s return of Manchester-filmed Cold Blood.
It was only during the third, four minute long, break that normal service was resumed, with ads for the likes of McDonalds, Peugeot, Tesco, BT and Norwich Union.
So what’s going on? Well, it seems ITV has a policy of using up some of its quota of commercials earlier in the evening when more people are watching.
That’s why it has to substitute its own trailers during some of All Murray’s commercial breaks.
An ITV spokeswoman told me: “ITV is allowed to schedule an average of eight minutes of commercial airtime across peaktime, therefore we would maximise this earlier in the evening on a Saturday night by running more commercial airtime when the ratings are higher.”
That would seem to explain why there appear to be more ads during Saturday night hits like Dancing On Ice, Primeval and PokerFace.
Not that “The Guv’nor” is bothered. Charles Wells brewery has poured just over £1 million into its Bombardier sponsorship of the Happy Hour.
Al opens his pub doors for the final time this series at 9.50pm on Saturday, when X Factor judge Louis Walsh and Penny Lancaster are among the guests.
The show – which is actually being recorded in London tomorrow – will also feature the surviving members of Queen.
As Al Murray fans know, every edition of his chat show ends with him performing a song by his beloved Queen, on stage with that week’s musical guests.
Now he’s about to get a taste of the real thing.
Sounds like a definite case of a pint for the fella…and a glass of white wine for the lady.
Al Murray’s Happy Hour
The Pub Landlord