Craig David has said that the Bo Selecta sketch series that impersonated him ‘ruined his life’.
The series was created by comedian Leigh Francis in the early 2000s and saw him wear giant rubber masks to impersonate celebrities.
R&B legend Craig David has now said in an interview with the Sunday Times, that Francis was guilty of ‘bullying’, and that the negative attention he received from the series pushed him to leave the country.
Francis, who is also known as his personas Keith Lemon and Avid Merrion, would impersonate celebrities including Michael Jackson and Trisha Goddard, The Hoot reports.
His impressions of Craig David saw him shout catchphrases like ‘Proper Reet Bo’ from a mask with a huge chin and a goatee drawn on with marker pen.
There was even a Christmas single, Proper Crimbo, from the character.
David said: “Every sketch felt personal. It felt like a vendetta and when it got a following, it became something that affected me.
“People would shout at me on the street and I felt the same feeling I had when I was bullied at school.
“Leigh Francis had normalised bullying by making it comedy. It was bullying across the board for everyone. When he put blackface on, that was being racist.”
Francis apologised back in 2020 for the rubber masks he wore on Bo Selecta upon being accused of ‘blackface’, saying at the time: “I didn’t realise how offensive it was. I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused. I guess we’re all on a learning journey.”
Around the same time, Channel 4 also pulled the series from its streaming platform All 4.
In his Sunday Times interview, David questioned that apology, saying: “We can all apologise when on the back foot.
“Has he reached out to any of the people he did on his show? He hasn’t reached out to me. Has he gone to communities to talk about bullying? Racism? And to be educated? You can only ask him.
“All I’ve seen since his apology is people still tweeting him thinking Bo’ Selecta! is fun and the tone of his response being very much still, ‘I’m the funny guy here’. That he still plays it like a joke after his apology tells me everything.”
He also said that he moved to Miami ‘get away physically from the David who everyone thought wore a colostomy bag and had a big rubber face and gigantic chin’.
Featured image: Publicity picture
TV & Showbiz
An award-winning documentary about a controversial religious group in Manchester is free to watch right now
We recently stumbled across one of the best short films we’ve watched in a long time and it revolves around a controversial religious group known as ‘WMSCOG’ that has roots all over the world — including right here in Manchester.
You’d be forgiven for having never heard of World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) before but, chances are, if you’ve simply walked through Manchester city centre you will likely have come across them at some point whether you know it or not.
Having been described as everything from a ‘doomsday group’ that has put forward multiple failed world-ending predictions, to an ‘abusive’, ‘opportunistic’ and ‘mind-controlling cult‘ by former members who now condemn the church, their story is one of the most intriguing subjects in modern theology.
With a highly complex and often confusing religious framework, comprised of multiple sub-strata and levels to their hierarchy which all centres around worshipping an old lady in South Korea, it can be tough to wrap your head around exactly who and what they are. And that’s exactly what this now award-winning short documentary tries to achieve.
Created by journalism graduate Harry Robinson, Mother’s Ruin: Unmasking the WMSCOG, started out as a final project for university and has now gone on to win both Best International Director at the Oregon Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Texas Short Film Festival, as well being awarded the Will Venters’ Memorial Prize by ITV News.
In less than half an hour, Robinson – with nothing more than his computer, a camera and some help from a fellow uni student – delivers a truly eye-opening exposé on a pseudo-religious group that claims to have more than three million followers across 170 different countries and yet somehow remains largely under the radar to most.
As well as sharing some seriously shocking stories and allegations from people who have left the church, or ‘escaped’ as many of them would put it, the 23-year-old also goes to confront WMSCOG on their own doorstep at a location right here in Manchester. Stretford, specifically.
The members who come to the door of the unassuming building on a small industrial park in Old Trafford decline the right to a reply and have no interest in speaking to him, even despite reading out a laundry list of accusations including coercion, mental manipulation and even try to force members into abortions.
Visiting former members and even WMSCOG deacons like Luke Biggs (pictured above) who still lives just a few miles away from their Manchester church, as well as cult survivor turned counsellor at the University of Salford Richard Turner, learning about how the group operates feels truly surreal at times.
The church has at least two locations here in the UK — one being in Manchester and the other in Epsom, Surrey — but its reach is thought to be truly massive even whilst remaining predominantly in the background and despite being a government-registered charity on Companies House.
Unsurprisingly, the documentary has had quite the reaction already, with Harry revealing to us and in the film itself that the insight into the church has helped many feel comfortable enough to come out and speak on their own struggles with religious organisations and groups some would consider ‘cults’.
As mentioned, it’s received some impressive critical acclaim for a student filmmaker too, who had to communicate with participants via secret emails and has an estimated 30+ hours of interview footage.
"𝙋𝙀𝙊𝙋𝙇𝙀 𝙒𝙀𝙍𝙀 𝙄𝙉 𝙎𝙃𝙊𝘾𝙆."
The early reviews for Mother's Ruin are more than I could ever hope for. 💙
I'm just ecstatic that the impact of these important stories are getting through, and I can't wait to hear more audience feedback. 🙌🔥
Robinson also received an award for his first film, The Real Black Sabbath (2022), which once again focuses on an alternative church.
Be it believing in the concept of ‘God the Mother’, i.e. the messiah reincarnated in the form of 80-year-old Zahng Gil-jahr, their deity who co-founded the church alongside the now deceased Ahn Sahng-hong (God the Father), or having predicted the world was going to end in 2012 like the Mayans, it’s quite staggering to hear what makes up WMSCOG’s belief system.
They have also been cited as having changed their core tenets and retconning claims within their own doctrine when certain predictions or practices haven’t gone quite as planned and gaslighting their followers into believing they were mistaken or simply ‘misinterpreted’ their teachings.
As explained by Robinson, several articles on WMSCOG’s controversies have been deleted and now simply display error messages, and even the original video he shared on a former member’s awareness site appealing for others to come forward with their experiences was removed for an ‘invasion of privacy’.
In fact, one of the few proper investigative articles still left standing was written up by none other than our very own University of Manchester’s The Mancunion.
Perhaps one of the most telling examples of how the World Mission Society Church of God has dealt with media attention in the past is demonstrated by the interview with Michele Colón, who spent a lengthy period in a fierce legal battle after the church tried to sue her for a genuinely staggering sum.
The group itself has actually been around in some form since 1964, starting out in South Korea and eventually going on to establish itself in Seoul as the Witnesses of Ahn Sahng-hong Church of God in the mid-80s, before rebranding once again as WMSCOG in 1997.
Nevertheless, knowledge of the church still remains very limited and after speaking to fellow University of Sheffield graduate and cinematographer for the documentary, Maddie James, she said the whole thing “felt outrageous” and “didn’t really believe it” until the pair arrived at the door to confront them.
“It felt like something out of a movie”, she continued, adding, “It got very serious and upsetting when we arrived at the location and I quickly began to realise how much it had impacted people”.
Maddie even told us how she believes he may have been approached by WMSCOG members handing out fliers when leaving the Arndale Centre not long after filming the documentary — a regular recruitment tactic according to ex-members. They are also said to approach young and impressionable students on university campuses.
We don’t want to spoil too much more about the documentary itself but all we can tell you is that within just a 24-minute run-time, Mother’s Ruin is probably one of the most fascinating watches you can put on whilst eating your tea or having a brew at the weekend.
You’ll quickly be putting your drink back down, mind, and won’t be able to resist digging further. How many other things can promise that kind of shock and intrigue in less than half an hour?
You can watch the Mother’s Ruin: Unmasking the WMSCOG in full for free down below.
Featured Images — Harry Robinson (via YouTube)/Supplied
TV & Showbiz
BBC to air ‘important and timely’ new Sarah Everard documentary three years on from her death
An “important and timely” new documentary about Sarah Everard is to air on the BBC three years following her death.
The tragic murder of the 33-year-old by serving Metropolitan Police officer, Wayne Couzens – who abducted her as she walked home on the evening of 3 March 2021 to the Brixton Hill area from a friend’s house near Clapham Common in London – was, undoubtedly, a watershed moment for the nation.
Her death brought to the forefront the devastating issues within the UK’s police forces, and highlighted the extent of violence against women and girls in our society.
And now, coming up to three years on from the historic event, and with the issue of violence against women and girls having been recently declared a national priority, alongside terrorism and organised crime, the BBC has announced that it will air a new documentary on the case, showcasing how the devastating crime unfolded, and the impact it’s gone on the have.
BBC Factual announces new documentary Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice for @BBCOne and @BBCiPlayer
The hour-long factual programme – which is titled Sarah Everard: The Search For Justice, and will air on both BBC One and iPlayer – will primarily look at the Met Police’s investigation into Sarah’s murder.
The story will be told by those closely-involved in the case from the outset, many of whom will be speaking on camera for the first time, including the Senior Investigating Officer, the Prosecuting Barrister, and Sarah’s local MP.
In the aftermath of the event, the Met was placed into special measures, and a major review of the force found a culture of denial, widespread bullying, discrimination, institutional homophobia, misogyny, and racism – with several other UK police forces also having been forced to confront the culture and behaviour in their own ranks too.
An new documentary about Sarah Everard is to air on the BBC / Credit: Gerry Popplestone | Tim Dennell (via Flickr)
An Independent Inquiry launched by the Home Office is underway too to examine the “unimaginable failures in policing”, and to find out how a tragedy like Sarah’s murder could even happen in the first place.
Hundreds of police officers also continue to face sexual assault allegations in the three years following Sarah’s death, which only proves just how “important and timely” this BBC documentary will be.
The documentary’s production team has been in close contact with Sarah’s parents for the making of this film, and say they hope it will bring “increased focus” to issues of women’s safety, as well as abuse of power by police and others in positions of authority.
The “important and timely” programme will air three years after her death / Credit: Tim Dennell (via Flickr)
Speaking ahead of the documentary airing, Emma Loach, who is the Lead Commissioning Editor for Documentaries at the BBC, commented: “The murder of Sarah Everard sent shock waves across the country and ignited an urgent conversation about police failings and violence against women and girls.
“This is an important and timely film, and we, like Sarah’s family, hope it will contribute to the ongoing dialogue around the issues raised.”