Comment: Confessions of a TV hoaxer
Sunday 07 February 1999
I should also say that I don't really think that Slovakian gypsies are all thieving scum hellbent on taking over this country. I just happened to be shopping in Dover with my mother when Newsroom South East had a camera set up in the Tesco car park. At first I only went over to watch, but, well, let's just say I have a knack of telling people what they want to hear. My sincere apologies to Slovakian gypsies everywhere. I'm a quarter Irish, so I know what it's like.
Let's talk about what I'm not: I'm not a bricklayer, I am not married, I do not live in Victoria Close in Solihull, and the man that you will see me punching repeatedly in an upcoming edition of Changing Rooms is not my neighbour. He's my nephew, Frank, and he was unhurt. My sincerest apologies to Carol and the crew. I actually really liked that lamp made of breeze blocks, in spite of what I said at the time. Sadly it wasn't my house, so I didn't get to keep it.
I am not, nor have I ever been, a Satanist. I did once attend a Halloween Party dressed as Ozzy Osbourne, so when I heard that Anglia News was doing a devil worship special, I dug my old costume out of the attic. I am very sorry about defacing the village church, but the programme-makers were putting a lot of pressure on me to "be more evil". If it makes any difference, the thing I drew on the altar is not a mystical incantation designed to invoke the power of the Dark Lord. It is the quadratic formula.
I am also not the Governor of the Bank of England, but I can do his voice, and you know what? Not that many people know what he looks like. I would like to apologise to all those who were upset or inconvenienced by my announcement of a 4 per cent reduction in interest rates on BBC News 24 early the other morning. I didn't realise how much that was. It sounded about right to me.
Note to Rick Stein: remember those fish you bought off me in Billingsgate? It turns out they weren't mackerel; they were small sea bass and they cost something like seven quid a pound! Sorry about that. The guy I borrowed the stall from only gave me a quick rundown the night before, and I got all muddled after you came along and started shining lights in my face. All I can say is, you got a real bargain there, mate, and yours truly paid the difference.
Which reminds me, to anyone who caught my wise old woodsman act on that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall programme on Channel 4, a word of warning: DO NOT eat those small brown mushrooms that I pointed out to Hugh. They are not mushrooms. They are deer poo.
Who saw me on the Late Review, filling in for Tony Parsons? It was always a dream of mine to be on that programme. I really thought I was rumbled when they all started talking about that Shakespeare In Love, which I hadn't even seen, but my little tirade about it being a load of rubbish seemed to go down well. Let me just say that I've seen it since, and I thought it was very clever. Also my comment about Gwyneth Paltrow being a talentless fat pig was, in retrospect, somewhat wide of the mark. I think I must have had her mixed up with someone else. There was no real harm done, although a PA called me the next day to say that I broke a chair. If that's true, I'm sorry.
I am also sorry for driving in a reckless zig-zag fashion, at 110 miles per hour on a slip road alongside the M4 while chucking so-called "stolen" goods out the window. I was only attempting to attract the attention of a police vehicle, which I noticed had a camera mounted on its dashboard. I would like to add that I bought those CDs with my own money at a boot sale near Devizes, and I have a receipt to prove it.
I wish to apologise to all the programme-makers and broadcasters whom I have deceived over the years, and also to the viewers, who deserve better. I hope people can understand why I did what I did. I wanted to be on television, same as everyone else. If anyone would like to interview me in greater depth about this, I am available.
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