Before He Was Giles, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Anthony Head Was A Commercial Star

There are a million reasons to love Anthony Head, from his time as the librarian/watcher Rupert Giles in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to King Uther Pendragon in "Merlin," to the Prime Minister in "Little Britain." If you're on the younger side, though, you might have missed another wildly popular project that Head did, both in the U.K. and later in the U.S. It wasn't a film or a TV show. It was a series of coffee commercials. 

Gather 'round, children, as I explain TV commercials. We had to watch them. We had no choice and no way to fast forward (which was rough after walking to school, uphill, both ways, in the snow). That means that when a commercial came along with two insanely attractive people (Head and Sharon Maughan) who flirt over a borrowed container of coffee, we were riveted. This wasn't some idiot yelling about low prices on stereos or preternaturally adult children giving the thumbs up over a plastic toy. There was chemistry! There was sex appeal! I wanted ... well, not to buy coffee, but to knock on a door and have this guy joke about letting me borrow some. 

Look, I am aware of how weird this sounds, so before I give you the info, I'm going to show you a compilation of some of the U.K. ones. 

Love over coffee

That's just a taste of the Gold Blend coffee commercials that ran in the U.K. from 1987 through 1993. Later, new ones were shot for the U.S. market (though the coffee is named Taster's Choice here) that started in 1990, with Head using an American accent this time around. In an interview about the commercials on BroadcastExchange, Maughan said that the original idea was for three spots that led into each other, but they were so popular that they would actually advertise for each installment. Yes, this was a commercial for a commercial. (This was before the internet was huge, so it wasn't like people could look them up online.) 

You cannot overstate how big these ad spots were in the U.K. According to the BroadcastExchange interview, 30 million people tuned in to see their first kiss. It was written up in newspapers. In a later sit down with Head (via DutroncEngland), Maughan said that the kissing shoot was a problem for these two actors/friends because she looked up and saw "a vision of manliness in the doorway" and said she thought he was really attractive. 

Commercial actors are constantly told that ad shots aren't going to get them into mainstream acting. At least, that was the case back then. However, these compelling commercials actually opened a door for Anthony Head that put him in the right spot for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

' ... it was the reason I went to America'

Back in 2011, I spoke to Head about these commercials for Huffington Post. He has a great sense of humor about them, and when I said I had to ask, he laughed, saying, "You have to?" 

I did have to. 

It was where I first saw Anthony Head, and even as a longtime fan of "Buffy" and later "Merlin" (which I moderated panels for at San Diego Comic-Con, where I definitely expressed my love for these commercials in person), they're still what I think of first when I think of him. 

When I asked if people still mention the coffee romance to him, he said: 

"Yeah! Strangely, usually only journalists. But when I meet somebody who said, 'Oh, where have I seen you? What have you done?' I'll go through the list of 'Buffy,' and 'Little Britain,' and 'Merlin,' then right at the end I'll go, '...or the coffee commercial, ' and they'll go, 'Oh, that's it!' ... I'm as fascinated by what was an incredibly iconic campaign. 

"And it's not only created opportunities for me in Britain, but basically, it was the reason I went to America because I could. If I hadn't gone to the states ... I'd always wanted to. It created opportunities for me and gave me the reason to scootch out of England for a little while to create a different persona. I didn't want to be just the coffee commercial guy. It created 'Buffy' and all the rest of it."

'Just imagine if you hadn't run out of coffee'

It gets very complex, this story of caffeine and sex. She's having a party and needs coffee. She is going to "think of something" to thank him for letting her borrow some. He sees a man in her apartment ... but it's her brother. She finds him with another woman. They reconcile and smooch. Later in the American ads, she has a teenage son who tells his father that mom's in love, so now there's a jealous ex. I don't know what to tell you about my love for it other than ... well, just look at these two. You wouldn't have been able to resist them either. 

Of course, the entire thing is silly. We're being sold coffee by two beautiful people who have the hots for each other. That's it. Still, the steamy looks and the flirty quips ... look, just take my money and give me my sexy coffee people. 

In the DutroncEngland interview clip, they joke about a reunion commercial at some point. For the love of coffee, I hope there's something brewing.