Former actor brews new business in Barnsley
31 January 2012
A former actor who was the star of one of Britain’s most memorable TV adverts has started a very different venture by setting up a new micro-brewery in Barnsley.
Peter Geeves is best known for playing the orange man in the fizzy drink commercial which spawned the catchphrase ‘You know when you’ve been Tango’d’ and also appeared in a string of films and TV shows.
Peter and son Harry, 21, have launched Geeves Brewery, at Grange Lane, Stairfoot, and have already produced an award-winning beer.
Now with the backing of business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley, the family firm is aiming to expand in 2012.
Although Peter, 56, has always had a passion for real ale and dreamed of opening his own brewery, the route he has taken is unusual.
After training as a musician, he became an actor and subsequently had roles in sitcoms like ‘Bottom’ and ‘Birds of a Feather’ as well as films including ‘Muppet Treasure Island’ and ‘Nuns on the Run’.
In 1992 he starred in the now infamous Tango advert which was banned by the Independent Television Commission after face slapping featured in the advert was reportedly copied by children.
Later Peter combined acting with corporate training while living on a narrow boat with wife Suzanne, Harry and daughter Verity, 20. And it was on the boat that he started experimenting with the ales that are now sold commercially.
Eventually the family decided to move from Worcestershire to Cudworth, Barnsley, and launch the business with savings. Harry is in the final year of a music degree at Leeds University but plans to join his dad full-time when he has graduated.
The brewery has the capacity to produce up to 16.5 brewers’ barrels per week, equal to 4,600 pints.
All Geeves’ ales are on a narrow boat theme. The brewery has five core ales; No 1, Bow Hauler, Gunwale Dance, Smokey Joe and Fully Laden and brews seasonal beers.
Products have been distributed as far afield as Northampton and Newcastle, as well as appearing at pubs and festivals in the region. Geeves’ winter beer Tunnel Mouth was named champion beer at the Mexborough’s Imperial Club and Brewery’s New Breweries Festival in December. Also Harry’s artwork on clips that fit on handpumps, known as pump clips, has won recognition from the Pump Clip Museum in Nottinghamshire.
Peter said: “The Tango advert seems to have captured the public’s imagination and people still talk about it. I had to spend three hours in make-up being painted all over with orange greasepaint which was later fixed with hairspray.
“As a former actor, starting the brewery is a big departure in one sense, but I do feel there are similarities in any creative process. The practical challenges of starting a brewery on a 70-foot-long narrow boat, like coping with space and access to water, have meant we’ve had to be doubly innovative!
“Both Harry and I have lots to learn about the commercial side of the business but we’re passionate about what we’re doing and I feel very lucky to be able to pursue this along with my son.”
Specialists from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley are helping Peter and Harry with marketing and identifying potential markets.
Harry said: “There are lots of possibilities to explore in terms of where our ales might fit and how we might progress and the future is looking very exciting. The support we’ve had from Enterprising Barnsley has been invaluable.”
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
Notes to News Editors:
Photographs are available from Deborah Wain or Kate Betts.
Media contacts for the brewery: Peter Geeves on 07895 9039259 or Harry Geeves on 07890 680044.