The actor Simon Callow is filmed having a pee in a new TV campaign
to alert millions of men to the dangers of prostate cancer.
Callow, best known as the larger-than-life Gareth in the film Four
Weddings and a Funeral, has given his services free in order to
highlight what has become the second-most common cancer in men, after
lung cancer, and claims the lives of nearly 10,000 people every
The commercial for the Institute of Cancer Research has been produced by
Red Cell - formerly Conquest - and is intended to raise the awareness of
prostate cancer to that of testicular cancer.
While testicular cancer now has high awareness through stories of
high-profile victims such as the Celtic footballer Alan Stubbs, prostate
cancer, whose symptoms are less easily detectable, is not so well
In April, the Government announced a pounds 13 million trial for early
treatment of the disease to determine which treatments are most
effective and whether a programme screening men should be
In the commercial, Callow is seen at a toilet basin looking increasingly
uncomfortable as he attempts to have a pee. After a moment's silence
punctuated by the sound of a dripping tap, Callow manages to relieve
A voiceover says: "One of the earliest signs of prostate cancer is
wanting to go and not being able to. If it happens to you, go to your
doctor and get checked out. It will be a relief in more ways than
The commercial, which was devised by Red Cell's creative director, Simon
Frank, and directed by Carl Le Blond at Garretts, takes a deliberately
tongue-in-cheek approach so that the ads do not become a turn-off.
"We've deliberately avoided the shock tactics that many charities use,"
Michelle Katz, Red Cell's new-business director, said. "People have
become immune to ads of that kind and this campaign is setting out to
inform rather than to shock."
The Institute of Cancer Research fears prostate cancer will kill more
people than lung and breast cancer during the next decade.
Callow, who has become a committed supporter of the campaign, said:
"We're happy to pee in public so we should be equally happy to be public
about any concerns we have if our peeing isn't normal."
Red Cell offered to work for the Institute of Cancer research last year
after John Wringe, then Red Cell's managing partner, was successfully
treated for testicular cancer. He had been alerted by the charity's TV
commercial featuring Robbie Williams.