Essex port doubles for Lincolnshire town in Baron Cohen's new movie, which apparently portrays Grimsby as a rundown badlands strewn with litter and peopled by beer-swigging children and hooligan parents
Some residents of Grimsby have been outraged after the Lincolnshire town was portrayed as a deprived den of iniquity in the latest film from Sacha Baron Cohen.
Titled Grimsby, the Borat comic's new movie centres on a spy who is forced to go on the run with his football hooligan brother. Cohen has been filming scenes in the Essex port town of Tilbury, which has been transformed into a rundown "Grimsby", complete with householders urinating out of their windows and children being offered beer.
Gardens have reportedly been strewn with rubbish and graffiti painted on walls in an apparent effort to increase the town's "Grimsbyness". Shops have had their fascias and hoardings altered, with Tilbury Wines transformed into "Grimsby Fired Chicken” and Right Time African restaurant becoming wedding store "Maids and Brides”.
Tilbury residents gathered in the rain last week to watch scenes being filmed, with some saying they did not recognise their home town. “I’d been away for two weeks and came back last night so confused because all the shops had changed and said Grimsby on them – I thought I was drunk," Bethany Casey, 19, told the local Thurrock Gazette newspaper. “I tried to get to the off-licence and thought ‘what’s going on here?’ so I went to the other one further down and noticed a run-down park had sprung up – but I didn’t think anything of it because, if they did put a new park in Tilbury, it would get wrecked straight away.”
North East Lincolnshire councillor Matthew Brown told the Mail Online he was "disappointed" to see Grimsby portrayed as a rundown town with hooligan problems.
He said: "It is using the town's name in potentially a poor light. What also worries me is that there is no benefit to the local economy which is carrying the town's name. Anything that you associate with football hooliganism is going to be negative, but I hope people will be open-minded when they watch the film.
"My view is quite simple. We don't have a massive issue with hooliganism. There is very good stewarding at the [Grimsby Town FC] ground. In general we are not in the same category as other clubs like Millwall who have a history of it."
Sylvia Robinson from Grimsby's real Brides and Maids store, told the Grimsby Telegraph that Baron Cohen was "ridiculous", but said she saw the funny side of the ersatz movie version.
"We have a good reputation, so this won't affect us at all. They should, however, make a point to stress that the shop in the film doesn't represent any real shop," she said.
Grimsby, set for release in 2015, also features Mark Strong, Ian McShane and Isla Fisher. Last December, French director Louis Leterrier was the surprise name chosen to helm the film.
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