Angus Cloud aka Conor Hickey and proprietor of JJ Hough's Singing Pub in Banagher Ger Hough.

Midlands pub releases annual Christmas video with host of famous faces

JJ Hough's Singing Pub in Banagher have released their seventh annual Christmas story entitled 'The Biscuit Tin.'

The short video tells the story of a struggling publican who unwittingly gifts his entire life savings to a customer in a USA biscuit tin, who in turn re-gifts it. The tin travels the world as everyone who receives it gives it away.

Proprietor of the longstanding Banagher pub, Ger Hough said: “I had the idea in my head for a long time about a miser who keeps his money in a biscuit tin. I never like the idea of starting a story with a miser, you need the audience to have empathy with the character.”

Ger elaborated: “I was always fascinated by USA biscuits, that gift you get from aunty Mary and you regift it.

Ger incorporated the gifting idea and thought about how the publican would mistakenly wrap his money in a biscuit tin.

“The themes we explore are learning to appreciate the simple things in life and the current energy crisis. The deeper meaning (of the ad) is eveyone gets a biscuit tin. They see it's a biscuit tin and they just fob it off.

According to Ger, language and social contact evolved around the fire and the ad also focuses on the current energy crisis. “The loss of the open fire, there's a social cost to that. The theme of the power cut is a relevant problem today. We still have two fires and candlesv (in the pub.) It's a scary time for a lot of people.

The video also features some very famous faces, perhaps most notably, Angus Cloud aka Conor Hickey who plays the role of Fez in the drama series Euphoria. Angus is Ger's second cousin and he visited Offaly last summer.

Ger explained: “Angus filmed his part in the pub in August. We were drinking a few pints of Guinness that day so the camera work was more shaky.”

Tullamore actor Sam Keeley who appeared in Raw and The Siege of Jadotville sent a video of himself to be included in the Christmas ad. Along with Sam, Ger's brother actor Michael Hough who appeared in the series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds also featured in the video along with their mother and a few customers.

Ger plays the role of Danny, the estranged son who returns home after emigrating. A host of local people contributed to the video and appear in the scene where everyone is sitting together.

“It's a community effort,” Ger stated. Everyone can come together by helping each other. We might think we're finished with traditions but it's a bit early to abandon tradition just yet.

“The basic message is that we don't realise the simple things in life are more valuable than you think. The old ways are sometimes better,” added Ger.

Speaking about filming the Christmas ad annually, Ger said: “Usually I get it shot in a couple of days. I've been doing it since 2016.” Ger originally dreamed about making films and said it was a way to channel his creativity.“I use the pub as a way to get my creative ideas out. It's a push for the town of Banagher and just gets people talking. There's a pressure every year to out perform the previous one.

“People start talking about it in October I have to be careful I don't give away the idea. You have to be really ruthless when editing to get the true meaning across," concluded the publican.

'The Biscuit Tin' also features music from Ultan Conlon and Dave Desmond. Ultan has played music in most of Ger's Christmas ads. Musician Denis Hickey also lended his talents and played a piece from 'Have Yourself A Merry Christmas' on the piano.

Jared Madden and his wife Lorraine Hogan from Banagher Drama Group also make an appearance with Lorraine saying 'Bah Humbug' towards the end of the video.

The owner of the pub has been offered a lifetime supply of USA biscuits following the popularity of the video on social media.

The entertaining Christmas ad is available to watch on JJ Houghs Singing Pub's Facebook page.