Kelso traders hope M&S Christmas advert will be gift that keeps on giving

The Square was turned into a winter wonderland. Picture by Tara Grey Photography.
The Square was turned into a winter wonderland. Picture by Tara Grey Photography.

Businesses in Kelso are hoping that the town will benefit from its starring role in an eagerly-anticipated Christmas advertising campaign.

A section of the 2018 Marks and Spencer Christmas advert was filmed last week in the town square, transformed into a winter wonderland for the occasion.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of Take That, reportedly signed up to provide the advert’s soundtrack, hundreds of curious onlookers flocked to watch filming for the ad get under way as darkness fell.

The retail giant is keeping the commercial’s concept under wraps, but with cameramen capturing smiling couples clad in winter woollies wandering hand in hand through the square against a backdrop of snow-dusted Christmas trees and twinkling fairy lights, it seems to be striving for a feelgood factor.

And there was certainly plenty of that on the outside of the red and white tape which marked out the set, too, despite a no-show from Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald, with traders and residents delighted that the store chain had chosen to film in Kelso.

Town provost Dean Weatherston said: “It was great to see the pubs and takeaways busy.

“One licensee told me they were staying open until midnight as they were doing a roaring trade – not bad for half-day Wednesday.

“With all the news coverage and the chat on social media, I think it’s great everyone is talking about Kelso.”

In recent years, supermarkets and department stores have gone head to head in a bid to create the best yuletide advert, with the Marks and Spencer’s showing being one of those most eagerly anticipated by TV viewers.

This year’s theme is said to be based on the ad’s stars receiving Christmas surprises.

A section featuring one-time Doctor Who actress Jill Winternitz was filmed in London last month, with TV presenter Holly Willoughby and actress Helen Mirren also said to be set to feature.

And though designed to push M&S’s winter wear, traders here are hoping the commercial will serve as an advert for the region too.

Tina Newton, chairperson of business and marketing group Visit Kelso, said it was a joy to see the snow come – and go – so quickly. “It really was magical,” she said.

“The filming created a great buzz around town.

“Shoppers came to see if the rumoured stars would be in the Square, and although the boys were missing, it didn’t seem to detract from the magic and sparkle.

“Many folk stayed well into the evening until the final cut was made.

“Let’s hope that Kelso really does shine when the advert is aired to encourage more visitors to our wonderful Borders town.”