Jackson’s known to fake stuff
Channel 4 documentary about Jacko’s big brother moving to Devon was ‘stage-managed with fake scenes’
By Ben Todd
Last updated at 9:14 AM on 28th January 2010
Even by the bizarre standards of the Jackson clan, it was an unlikely turn of events.
Michael Jackson’s elder brother Tito arrived in Devon supposedly looking to build a UK version of Neverland where the family could live.
Tito and his entourage spent five weeks in a rented house in Appledore, getting to know the locals and fighting off the attentions of the paparazzi.
And it was all captured on camera for a Channel 4 documentary, The Jacksons Are Coming.
Perhaps viewers should have had suspicions when it emerged that the programme was made by the production company Studio Lambert, whose boss resigned from his previous post after footage of the Queen was infamously doctored for a TV trailer.
For according to documents presented to the High Court, the whole thing was based on fantasy.
Matt Fiddes, who featured in the programme as the Jacksons’ local guide, claims that Tito never intended to move to Devon.
And he adds that several scenes in the programme were staged for the viewers’ benefit – including two men pretending to be photographers and being chased off the property.
Mr Fiddes, 30, from Barnstaple, is suing Channel 4, Studio Lambert and narrator Jane Preston claiming the whole programme ‘was from start to finish a gross misrepresentation or distortion of the true facts as they occurred’.
He claims that the ‘documentary’, first shown in November 2008, libelled him by falsely implying that he betrayed the Jacksons’ trust by leaking stories about them to the media without their agreement.
The case is due to be heard in the High Court today, followed by a full trial later in the year.
Mr Fiddes, who had acted as one of Michael Jackson’s previous bodyguards, claims he and Tito became close friends.
Tito was in a ‘poor financial position’ and ‘anxious to resurrect his own personal career as a singer and celebrity, preferably in the UK’. So he and Mr Fiddes contrived a publicity stunt in which he revealed he was looking to live in Devon.
It was hoped that ‘a television show about this move might generate enough money to put down a deposit on a house in the UK, probably in London, since it was closer to the music industry’.
Mr Fiddes then helped broker a £20,000 deal with Studio Lambert to cover the five-week visit by Tito and other family members.
He arranged the rented holiday home in Appledore and appeared in numerous scenes himself.
In a 44-page legal document, he claims Miss Preston ‘knowingly and deliberately manipulated and selected the footage which she had filmed’ to mislead viewers.
And he also claims the ‘chronology of events’ was altered to ‘ bolster dishonestly’ the programme.
In one of the early scenes from the programme, two alleged paparazzi photographers are shown being chased from the grounds by security.
According to Mr Fiddes, this was ‘entirely fabricated’. He says he set it up at the request of Miss Preston, with two men having to ‘pretend that they were paparazzi gaining unauthorised entry to the premises’.
He claims she asked the pair to ‘stand at the end of the drive and simulate taking photographs’ and says ‘these fictional shots had to be shot several times before satisfactory footage was obtained’.
The production company’s boss Stephen Lambert, 50, is the man behind the documentaries Wife Swap and Faking It.
He resigned from the production company RDF in 2007 after a misleading trailer to the documentary A Year With The Queen which seemingly showed the Queen walking out of a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz when she was actually walking into the shot.
Yesterday a spokesman for Channel 4 said: ‘We refute the allegations made against us.’