News

Howard from Halifax now – musical theatre, First Dates and overnight stardom

Howard Brown was the face of Halifax for nearly a decade, swinging his hips to our favourite hits, repurposed for the bank’s mortgage offerings – but what has the household name been up to since leaving the bank?

Howard has had a whirlwind 20 years since first starring in a Halifax advert in 2000

He was one of the most recognisable faces on TV for a decade, shooting to fame after he bopped along to a repurposed version of Tom Jones’s Sex Bomb (X bomb) on the Halifax TV adverts.

For the next 10 years, Howard Brown became a household name as the face of Halifax, taking on top tunes from Barry White and Shaggy – even making a cameo appearance in The Office Christmas special.

Working as a bank cashier at Halifax with dreams of becoming a bank manager, Howard auditioned for the adverts in the year 2000 for a bit of fun.

The bank was looking for a big character from its thousands of employees to star in their newest advert, and Howard thought he might as well give it a go.

Reflecting on his unexpected career change, Howard, now 54, tells The Mirror: “I told one or two people I was going to audition and everyone said, ‘You’ll get that’.

“But I didn’t believe I’d be chosen at all. I just went along and didn’t expect anything, it was just a way for me to have some fun.”



Howard became a well known face on TV in the noughties
(

Image:

The People)






He shot to fame almost overnight with his jolly demeanour and killer dance moves
(

Image:

The People)




For more of the news you care about straight to your inbox, sign up for one of our daily newsletters here

After whittling down thousands of applicants to just 20, Howard was eventually offered the role of a lifetime that saw him shoot to fame almost instantly.

“When I was actually chosen, it came completely out of the blue. I was gearing myself up for a job in banking management, but the success of this turned my life around overnight,” he says.

After he was selected for the part, Howard says he was asked if he owned a suit, tie and a passport – but he didn’t know much more about what the new role entailed.

“I thought it would be lovely, shooting on location in the Costa Blanca or something,” he says. But he was stunned to learn he’d be heading to South Africa for nearly a month to make the now infamous ‘X Bomb’ advert.

After spending the best part of three and a half weeks wiggling his hips to the Tom Jones hit in 35 degree heat, Howard went back home to the West Midlands and had some time off with a plan to return to work in the new year.









But when the advert aired for the first time on Boxing Day in 2000, Howard’s life changed irreversibly.

“I went out as normal for lunch and sat in this little pub,” he recalls. “I was having a coffee and I saw a young lady come in with a pram.

“She did a double take, looked at me, looked away, and then slowly reversed and stopped in front of my table. Then she said: ‘You’re him’.

“I realised at that stage that people had already started to recognise me. Everywhere I went people would start to sing to me.”

And as his face became more and more known, it soon became clear that Howard’s plan to return to a quiet life at the Sheldon branch of Halifax wasn’t going to be possible.



Howard jetted all over the world to film Halifax adverts




“My first attempt to go back to the branch was in February. We must have had 400 people waiting outside – I had to sneak around the back and climb over the fence.

“We tried to open but after 20 minutes we had to close it, there were too many people.”

Luckily, Howard took the chaos in his stride.

“Although it was strange initially, I felt comfortable with it. For me, it was putting a smile on people’s faces, so I went with it.”

But despite becoming one of the most recognised faces in Britain, Howard never took anything for granted.

“I thought, ‘I need to continue to be me and keep my feet firmly on the ground’. You don’t let it change you.

“I met some great people over the years but I always kept the same circle of friends.”



Howard became a TV sensation and wasn’t able to go back to his day job
(

Image:

PA)




For the next decade, Howard starred in Halifax adverts that took him all around the world on location, and he loved every single second. But after the financial crisis in 2009, big banks started to scale back expenses as the eyes of the world began to scrutinise how they operated.

It meant the end of big budget adverts starring everyone’s favourite Halifax worker – but Howard continued to appear in smaller videos for the bank that were circulated online.

In time, Howard and Halifax finally parted ways but he remained in demand with offers pouring into his agent from different banks – including RBS and Ulster Bank.

He also tried his hand at musical theatre, starring in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as Adam Pontipee.

When he wasn’t working, he found time to revisit the incredible places he’d filmed adverts, but to “see them properly” this time – travelling around India, Australia and South Africa.

He even made an appearance on reality TV show First Dates.



Now, he’s teamed up with the Nude app to help young people save enough to get on the property ladder
(

Image:

Ady Kerry/PinPep)




More recently, Howard has partnered with savings app Nude, which encourages young people to get saving to buy their first home without help from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’.

The app offers a savings and investment account which helps people aged 18-39 save up to £4,000 a year, with an added government bonus of £1,000.

It has enlisted Howard to become its ‘human cash machine’, handing out real cash to people on the street in a bid to kick start their saving efforts.

After an afternoon delivering the goods to young people on Clapham High Street, it was clear that Howard’s sheen hadn’t worn off – as lots of people remembered his friendly face.

“I get recognised everywhere,” he says.







“Quite recently, I was having lunch in Wetherspoons in Worcester, and it was quite empty that afternoon.

“I saw an older chap looking across while I was sat there having my lunch and he came from the bar and moved to sit right next to me.

“He looked across, nudged me and said, ‘You’re him aren’t you’?”

Reflecting on a whirlwind two decades, Howard is still so grateful for the things he’s been able to achieve since first starring in the X bomb advert – and he wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I’ve been very lucky. People have been very, very kind to me.”

To find out more about Howard’s work with Nude, and for a chance to win £10,000, click here


Read More





Read More







Source link

Back to top button