Hector the Tax Inspector (also known as Hector the Taxman) was the advertising figurehead of British government taxation department the Inland Revenue.
He is a middle-aged man wearing glasses, bowler hat and suit with pinstripe trousers. Hector appeared in a series of animated adverts (produced by Snowden Fine Animation) starting 1995 intended to remind people to return their self-assessment tax returns on time and provide
a way to put a human face on the Inland Revenue. The character was voiced by Sir Alec Guinness (sometimes Enn Reitel).
Hector first appeared in a commercial standing in an office explaining about tax and self assessment, changing his form depending on what he was saying. Other adverts include:
On an vintage vibrating exercise belt machine, advising people to get in shape regarding tax forms.
Waking up in the middle of the night, advising viewers to keep tax forms and make a record (keeping them within a filing cabinet in his bedside table).
Being driven in a car by his wife, explaining that if you get lost when filling in a tax form and need more time, then the Tax Office can help. This is reflected by the wife driving through a street, into a jungle, the Arctic and underwater, before Hector steers her back onto the road.
Four or so set on an ice rink, where Hector explains the Inland Revenue will be happy to calculate your tax so long as forms are completed within set time limits. Skaters skate around the mascot. Each advert counted down the deadline. When it came to the last few days, the final advert ended with Hector's wife skating around her husband causing him to fall through the ice.
Taking part in a boxing match, saying if forms aren't returned by such a date, then there will be a £100 penalty. He advises to do it right away and don't get clobbered. This is reflected by Hector going to face his opponent, only for boxing shorts to fall down, causing him to duck and for the referee to be knocked out of the ring.
Helping an old lady cross a busy road. When they get to the other side, she hits Hector with her handbag and walks back to the other side where a bus has pulled up since she in fact was waiting for it to arrive.
At the start of 2001, Hector was retired by the Inland Revenue. The then head of Inland Revenue stated that the reason for dropping Hector was that he was "too white, too male and too middle aged to represent the Revenue". (Also, Guinness had died the previous year.) As well as this, the character of Hector was not popular with Inland Revenue's staff, some of whom believed that Hector's image was not appropriate for the time.