He's the world's most famous gorilla, playing the drums to an audience of millions in the Cadbury ad. But how's it done? With 27 radio-controlled motors, a three man team and countless hand-tied yak hairs.It was what you might call a hairy situation. But, as the ape picked me up and swung me around a deserted car park, somewhere in the middle of California, a feeling of surprising calm and security washed over me. I rubbed his paunch. He patted my head, clumsily, and I don't mind telling you it was a beautiful moment. For this was not your average six-foot primate. This was the world's first celebrity gorilla, whose televised drum solo has led to instant stardom, worldwide renown - and a monster surge in chocolate consumption. It was a privilege to meet him.
There is something utterly compelling about the 90-second Cadbury's commercial which first aired two months ago and features the beast in private rapture as he drums along to Phil Collins's In The Air Tonight. And the result has been a quite astonishing success. So far, the advertisement has received six million hits from viewers on the internet. It has even prompted the re-release of Collins's 1981 hit, pushing it back into the Top 20 - an even more improbable occurrence, you might think, than a drumming gorilla. Most pertinently for those concerned, though, Cadbury's unique brand of wild rock has resulted in a nine-percent rise in sales of Dairy Milk chocolate bars.
Viewers have been left both gripped and bewildered by the joyful ape, which is life-like down to the flaring nostrils and the curling lips. Many believe a real animal was trained to work the pedals and the sticks. Some have claimed that Phil Collins himself was wearing a hairy suit.
Today, however, I can reveal that the man behind - or should that be inside? - the gripping performance is American actor Garon Michael, a primate specialist who has starred as a great ape in the films Congo, Instinct and the recent Planet Of The Apes remake.
If you missed the performance or want to see it again I have it posted here:
Full story and good pictures at: