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New book, new genre

Why didn’t I move when I found myself next to a murderer on a train? I spoke to him for 60 minutes and during that time I was repulsed, shocked and terrified but never bored. Any normal person would’ve moved. Not me. This encounter had all the makings of a psychological thriller written all over it. I started to plot ‘The Killing of Mummy’s Boy’.

VFringe – review ‘I am Ella. Buy me’

Fringe Review – friday 15 August 2014 Issue 4

She’s a Lady by Natasha Preskey

Fans of Mad Men would have been enthralled by former advertising copywriter Joan Ellis’ reading of her new novel:I am Ella.Buy me at the Ventnor Fringe.

Joan’s new novel is a romantic comedy based on her experiences working in the male dominated advertising industry in the eighties. She brings extracts of the novel to life, especially the voice of Ella’s sleazy boss Peter Richards, in a way which makes it clear that her characters have a strong basis in truth.

Extracts were interspersed with anecdotes from Joan’s days in Adland during which she met and worked with the likes of Felicity Kendall and Jennifer Saunders, wrote letters on behalf of a dog and just missed out on a cab ride with Neil Morrissey.

Joan’s observations and witty but relatable narrative will no doubt have her audience rushing to update their Kidles or else applying for jobs in advertising.

VFringe – flushing loos and flashing lights

First night of the VFringe was a blast. Loved every minute. Big thanks to the friends who turned out and some strangers too, including the unsuspecting people I hijacked at the Ventnor Carnival and invited to my show: I am Ella. Buy me. One lady even came on crutches – quite a feat given the venue was up a hill in the Scout Hut at The Woodland Bar. It’s an idyllic setting. A place where magic happens.

I conjured up the ad industry in the 80s. I could smell the smoke in the bars in Soho and taste the one too many wines that got drunk in those heady, hazy days. I was an advertising copywriter and back then advertising was a showy, sexist but spectacular industry. It gave me the opportunity to work with advertising greats like Tony Kaye and Trevor Beattie as well as amazing talent like Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield. 

Noel Fielding – Adland’s loss, comedy’s gain

Noel Fielding: Adland’s loss, comedy’s gain
By Joan Ellis,, Friday, 01 August 2014 08:33AM 3 Comments

As the second series of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy gets under way, Joan Ellis, the author, copywriter and advertising lecturer gives her view on what might have been.
Noel Fielding: stars in Channels 4’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding, award-winning art director?

Twenty years ago, he was set to seize the title. I know, I taught him advertising at Bucks College. Now famed for Never Mind The Buzzcocks and being one half of the comedy duo The Mighty Boosch yet back in the 90s Noel wasn’t just a bright spark, he was spontaneously combusting.

From the start, I could see he was an original, a one-off – just like the very best ads. His work was raw, fresh and exciting. Thankfully, he didn’t know the meaning of the word “safe”.

That was the problem. It needed a brave client to run one of Noel’s brilliantly bizarre ideas.

Yet, I had no intention of reining him in. Who cared if his ideas were off-the-wall? Not me. It was my job to teach him advertising but it was my duty to get the hell out of the way and let him fly.


I wasn’t the only one who knew Noel was special. John Fairbanks, the college principal, also had him earmarked as one-to-watch and it seemed, one to listen to.

After my first term, I was summoned to John’s office.

“Noel says we should keep you on.”

“‘Noel?” I asked, confused.

“Noel Fielding, he thinks you’re great.”

He was a first year student yet already, his opinion counted. Even then, the Boosch was mighty.

When Noel discovered that as well as being a lecturer and copywriter at London’s top agencies, I also wrote and performed sketches, he asked for the inside track on the comedy circuit.

With his rock-star looks, affable nature and ability to conjure up new worlds out of nowhere, he was keen to follow in Eddie’s Izzard’s stiletto shoes. In preparation, he once wore a pair of heels to college. Luckily, it wasn’t the same day as he mounted a pogo stick and bounced into class claiming to be Jesus Christ.

After that, he was unstoppable, less of an adman, more of a madcap man.

A few years later, I sat in the front row at The Hen and Chickens in Islington, a venue renowned for showcasing new talent. As the house lights dimmed, there was Noel where he belonged, in the spotlight.

He invited me to his West End debut at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The place was packed with fans loving every idiosyncratic moment.

Noel is a stand-up with standout in spades but I’d still give anything to see what he’d do with a brief for soap powder. I imagine it would feature a spotless unicorn.

Joan Ellis’ first novel, I am Ella, Buy Me, is out now


This article was first published on

Article tags:
Noel Fielding, Joan Ellis, United Kingdom, Europe, Media / Entertainment

Here’s Ella

My first novel, ‘I am Ella. Buy me’ hit Amazon’s virtual bookshelf yesterday.I was so excited, I cracked open a packet of Bourbons.I told everyone I know. And everyone I don’t know.

Ella is a lot like me. Loves cake. She doesn’t so much go to work on an egg as travel in on three almond croissants. (If you’ve ever been to Patisserie Valerie or Maison Bertaux in Soho, you’ll know why. Sublime.)

Ella works for a bad boss and falls for a bad boy. Sound familiar? Shake hands, sister! Been there, done that, got the nervous tick to prove it.

Her boss, Peter is a chauvinist pig and proud of it. Well this is the 80s when men where men and women were well, just women. His criteria for hiring and firing girls is based on bust size and believe you me, his cup is overflowing.

We’ve all met his ilk. Hopefully, you handled them better than I did. One charmer actually asked: I’ve never had you, have I? It was the unnerving level of uncertainty that got me. Obviously, I was just one in a long line of blonde copywriters. For the record, the answer was ‘No’. Not hard, his open sandals and hairy toes didn’t do it for me.

If you’ve had similar experiences, I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, meet Ella. You’ll like her. She’s probably a lot like you.