Virgin Media hired Ricky Tomlinson to front their digital TV switchover campaign because, in his words, ‘they wanted someone who was known for sitting in front of the telly scratching his b**.’

“They also wanted someone who knew nothing about technology, and I come top of the class in that,” he told whatsontv.co.uk.

The message he was trying to spread was that the digital switchover is going to happen, but it’s nothing to be afraid of.

In the promo video Ricky dons a mortar board and gown to portray an old-style teacher. “…rather than preaching at people, we’ve done it in a comic way with a little bit of a giggle. He explains [to the class] when the changeover is coming, why it’s coming and what the benefits are going to be,” he said.

The digital switchover starts this week in Cumbria and will proceed through every region in Britain, ending with London in 2012. “There’s a lovely line in the script where by the London Olympics you can press a red button and you can see a camera angle which makes it look like we’re actually winning something!”

People shouldn’t be concerned about the cost of switching from analogue to digital TV, he said. “For young couples and people on a decent income they’re probably going out and buying 42in plasma screens which are already set up for digital.

“But the old age pensioner who doesn’t want to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds, and who is happy with what they’ve got, can just go buy a Sky box that sits on top of the telly, plugs in and they get all the benefits of everything else and all the channels. I don’t think the cost is going to be a deterrent.

“The technology is unbelievable… At the end of the day, the quality is just unbelievable both in sound and vision.”

CLICK here to watch Ricky explain how to get digital TV.