The star of a Northern Ireland pub’s Christmas ad that’s gone viral about its message around loneliness, Martin McManus, appeared on Good Morning Britain today to talk about his newfound fame.
The ad shows a lonely man placing flowers on a grave and being ignored by someone. But he makes friends with a young couple in Charlie’s pub in Enniskillen, when their dog sits by him.
On going global, Martin told host Susanna Reid, “It’s sort of unbelievable to be honest, I’m quite used to doing amateur drama, but that’s more localised and not on a global scale.”
Susanna also asked Martin how important the message of the video is and he said, “I think it’s very important people keep an eye out for the elderly and the lonely. And it’s not just the elderly that’s lonely.”
He added, “[Loneliness] is quite exaggerated at the festive season because there’s so many people. It’s a sad time for memories. Especially if you’re living on your own now.”
The pub’s landlady, Una Burns, also appeared on the show. She said the idea came from what she’s used to seeing over the years.
“Unfortunately, Christmas isn’t a happy time for everybody,” she said.
She added, “I suppose most of us have been touched by grief, unfortunately, and we wanted to portray that, while also getting across the essence of Charlie’s and the essence of people in general, that friendliness that if you are lonely this Christmas, you don’t need to be.”
Una explained she found Martin through a friend who recommended him. She said, “I didn’t want somebody who was a regular of the bar or a familiar face because we’re very conscious we didn’t want to distract from that message.”
Host Richard Madeley said to Una once she had the idea, she was really driven and passionate and could barely sleep and Una said, “Exactly. We’re very used to sharing videos, probably more lighthearted videos on our social media pages. A friend of mine wrote to me and said, ‘Would you not consider doing a Christmas ad.’ And it was the only thing I could think of that day. I wanted to base it on what we see in Charlie’s and during the Christmas period.“
She added, “On Christmas morning, me and my father do it normally and you see a range of people in here - those who are lonely but also those where Christmas in Charlie’s is part of their tradition as a family. It’s one of my favourite shifts of the year.”
The two people Martin makes friends with in the advert also appeared on the show, alongside the dog, Missy.
Richard asked if they had to do numerous takes to get the dog to sit next to Martin in the ad and Megan Daley said, “No, it was only a couple of treats and wee bit of swaying to get her up.”
Alex Middlemass added, “It was harder to get her out of bed this morning!”
To watch the interview and show in full visit itv.com
Good Morning Britain weekdays from 6am on ITV1 & ITVX.