He has already upset the people of the Surrey town of Staines and the entire nation of Kazakhstan. Now, it seems, the people of Grimsby fear that their home town will be next to suffer the ridicule of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.
Baron Cohen is currently filming his next movie Grimsby, which is set in the Eighties and involves a spy, played by Mark Strong, being forced to go on the run in the Lincolnshire town with his football hooligan brother, played by the Borat and Ali G star.
Filming is actually taking place in Tilbury, Essex. It was not immediately clear whether this was through a desire to avoid confrontation or because modern Grimsby did not have the right run-down look.
But a Grimsby businessman on a trip to London was not happy when he travelled 20 miles out of the capital to visit the set.
He told the Grimsby Telegraph: “They made Grimsby out to be a terrible and dirty place to live. It's not on.”
The businessman claimed the film crew threw bags of litter on streets, while extras were made to stroll around with dogs on chains and cans of lager in their hands.
Houses were shown to have broken windows and fly dirty England flags, while gardens were filled with broken-down furniture and children's toys.
The businessman said: "I'm not pleased this is the way the world will get their first and maybe only look at Grimsby. I've lived here all my life. It's an up-and-coming area.
"It has a hell of lot going for it and it's disappointing to see what they have done. They should tell people that it's a spoof and this is not the real Grimsby."
If Grimsby’s reputation does suffer, it will not be the first time a British town has felt tarnished by association with a Baron Cohen character. In 2012 Staines rebranded itself Staines-on-Thames in an attempt to distance itself from Ali G, the spoof youth TV presenter and proud member of the ‘West Staines massif’.
Baron Cohen’s 2006 film Borat portrayed Kazakhstan as hopelessly backward and its people as irredeemably sexist and anti-semitic, and provoked a complaint from the Kazakh ambassador to Britain.
Baron Cohen, however, merely adopted the guise of hapless TV presenter Borat to reply: “Borat like to state that he has no connection with Mr. Cohen and he fully support his government's decision to sue this jew!
“Since the 2003 Tulyaki reforms, Kazakhstan is as civilized as any other country in the world: Woman can now travel on inside of bus, homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats, age of consent has been raised to 8 years old!”
It now appears that Baron Cohen has also managed to upset the people of Tilsbury with his Grimsby film, in which Hollwood star Penelope Cruz is also said to be appearing.
One Tilsbury resident contacted the Grimsby Telegraph to complain: “There's graffiti everywhere and they are putting rubbish bins in the streets.
“Everyone is kicking up a storm because now Tilbury looks like Grimsby.”Reuse content