This film is part of Free

Woolco Toilet Roll Race

Shoppers clear the aisles, as Ulster Television’s toilet roll racers get ready for action.

News 1978 3 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Northern Ireland Screen


Join Downtown DJ Big T and UTV’s Leslie Daws as the toilet roll flows through the aisles of Woolco. When Hugh Jones and Mike Morris came up with a winning formula to encourage shoppers to ditch their baskets and load up a shopping trolley, little did they know that a decade later UTV’s motley crew would hijack these widened gangways. The disjointed rushes create some surreal effects so prepare to enjoy some mental editing to decide who wins this race?

At the dawn of out-of-town shopping this Ards hypermarket was an unlikely trailblazer. Violence discouraged most retailers from investing in Northern Ireland however Woolco’s risk paid off. On its opening day people queued for two hours and were individually searched by the RUC and Army before they could enter the shop and start their spending spree. It may be hard to imagine now however shoppers were dazzled by the scale and bright lights we no longer notice during the weekly shop. Jones and Morris’s recipe was a success, this branch quickly topped the company sales tables and their design was rolled out across the UK becoming the layout we are now familiar with. This material is Courtesy of the UTV Archive.