'Tell Sid' - Nostalgic British Gas adverts as questions raised over company's soaring 900% profit margin

British Gas has made record profits despite the cost of living crisis
Leicester's Aylestone Road British Gas Centre. Leicester's Aylestone Road British Gas Centre.
Leicester's Aylestone Road British Gas Centre.

British Gas and its parent company Centrica announced that its profits increased by a massive 889% in the first half of 2023. The soaring profits were buoyed by Ofgem's price cap when customer bills for gas and electricity were limited to £2,500 a year.

This allowed the business to recoup losses it saw a year earlier to an amount of around £500 million.

While the announcement has raised eyebrows at the eye-watering made during a cost of living crisis, it has also led to calls for nationalisation from some political parties and unions.

But it also raises questions about how British Gas has changed over the years. And one way this can be seen is by taking a look back at the energy provider's nostalgic TV adverts.

Tell Sid

This retro campaign was launched in 1986 when the Conservative Government at the time privatised the British Gas Corporation in December 1986.

Its shares were floated on the London Stock Exchange and the 'Tell Sid' TV advert served as a promotion to the British public to buy shares in British Gas at an 'affordable' price.

Following the privatisation of BT, there became many first-time shareholders in the UK. Some adverts in the campaign featured Sid - a colloquial British Gas customer.

Burt Reynolds

In a move that may have served as the inspiration behind Kevin Bacon starring in the EE adverts today, Burt Reynolds was the star of a 1991 advert for British Gas.

The advert sees a smooth Burt Reynolds tell viewers how they 'can impress the ladies'. Effortless for Buirt, yet hard work for most.

His gas-lit fireplace serves as the main plug for British Gas aiding him in his pursuits here.

Bob Hoskins

English actor Bob Hoskins also starred in a British Gas commercial in 1991.

The advert centres around the idea of 'being in control' with British Gas as your energy provider and how a gas cooker is the key to easy living. If only it was that simple.

The actor, who died in 2014, was known for his roles in films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Long Good Friday.

Gavin Richards

In an advert that would have struck fear in many, British TV actor Gavin Richards helps us all find out just how dangerous a gas leak can be.

The advert sees Gavin and his wife come home to the smell of gas and serves as a reminder of what you should and should not do in this situation.

A warning that is always worthy of a reminder.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.