Look at what Alan Partridge did for us... Norwich’s message to people of Grimsby upset by new movie
- Credit: Archant
Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of Ali G and Borat and no stranger to controversy, is at it again. His latest film Grimsby has angered some for what they see as a disparaging depiction of the Lincolnshire town.
The movie sees Cohen play a dim-witted football hooligan and father-of-nine Norman 'Nobby' Butcher helping his secret service agent brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) thwart a sinister plot. The film, much of which is shot in Essex, has been branded 'slanderous', 'insulting' and 'unfair' by some Grimbarians.
For many in Norwich, this may sound familiar. Amid the rise to fame of Alan Partridge, the fictional Norwich DJ created by Steve Coogan, there was some initial irritation in some quarters at the way Norfolk seemed to be the butt of so much of the humour.
But it did not take long for the city to take Partridge to its hearts, and all was certainly forgiven by 2013 when the fictional DJ said he wanted to put Norwich 'on the map' by holding the world premiere for his new film Alpha Papa in the city following a social media campaign.
Red carpet fever hit the city in July 2013 as huge crowds flocked to Anglia Square for the grand premiere of film – some of which was shot in the county.
Brenda Arthur, Norwich's lord mayor, who was city council leader at the time, said: 'Some people in the first instance railed against what Alan Partridge was saying but I think subsequently, and particularly given the premiere was here, people have come to realise it was all done with affection. I think there were walks afterwards that gave the economy a bit of a boost. I think you have to try and make the best of it. It isn't all negative.'
Rafiq Turnbull, who, together with Rob Wilkes, set up a successful social media campaign to get the Partridge premiere in Norwich, said: 'Any publicity is good publicity.'
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Michelle Lalor, editor of the Grimsby Telegraph, said that while the film might have put the area in a bad light, there was much to be proud about.
'There is a Nobby, well quite a few of them, in every town and city in Britain and we all know that,' she said.
'The proud people of Great Grimsby are happy to say that none of the film was actually shot in Grimsby, but in Essex. Here we have many good people doing great things for our communities. As far as we are concerned, no publicity is bad publicity – and how many towns see their name emblazoned in lights in Leicester Square?'
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