Believe it or not, there was a time when Ruddles was a highly regarded beer, rather than the go-to cheap filth at Wetherspoons. Even more surprisingly for an independent brewery, they had a TV advertising budget. And if you had such a thing, what better course of action that to give £50,000 of said budget to Vivian Stanshall, ex-leader of the Bonzo Dog Band and notoriously unreliable pisshead.
Stanshall, possibly when a bit more sober, cooked this one up in his flat in Muswell Hill, roughly based on his Rawlinson End work and an old Edward Lear poem you may recognise. Extravagantly hiring Dawn French to be unreconisably made-up as Sir Henry Rawlinson, it's a perfect example of money-no-object advertising excess.
It kept Stanshall going though. Not a drinker of Real Ale, he spent a large proportion of the money on recordings for Warner Brothers (yet to be released due to rights hell) and vodka.
Unwell with alcoholism and tranquiliser addiction, and indeed only 18 months from death, Stanshall spent a lot of time blotto and as such this as took far longer than normal to get in the can. More money spent. It's possibly an exaggeration that these events made Ruddle vulnerable to the takeover from Greene King a few years later, but it makes you think.
So Viv, it's all your fault. Still, thanks for "The Canyons Of Your Mind".