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Bo Selecta star lays Michael Jackson to rest

by Angela Johnson. Published Sun 13 Sep 2009 14:24, last updated: 13/09/09

Leigh Francis has hit back at critics who say his Michael Jackson tribute show is 'too soon' - and reveals he believes it is something Michael Jackson would have found funny.

Cha'mone Mo'Fo'Selecta is a one-hour special during which MJ is portrayed as a "fattist" doing a training video for overweight children, and is set to air on E4 at the end of the month.

Francis discusses the tears he shed for Michael Jackson, and how David Gest told him Michael Jackson had a great sense of humour and would like the idea of the homage being broadcast.

Bo Selecta star Leigh Francis, 36, defended his decision to perform as MJ so soon after his death, saying the character has to be laid to rest along with the legend.

He said: "When this horrible thing happened to Michael Jackson my agent said we would do a sketch.

"I was quite upset. I didn't want to.

"And then a few weeks went by so I put the idea on Facebook and Twitter.

"I got 214 messages back in 40 minutes.

"Three of them said it was too soon.

"That's why we're doing it. Out of homage.

"David Gest phoned me and said 'I hear you are doing a mask of me. I have this footage of Michael Jackson, do you want it?'

"He showed us the unseen footage which really showed Jackson in a different light.

"You saw his sense of humour.

"And Gest said Jackson would probably like the idea of us doing this show.

"Because Jackson has died we have to put the Bo' Selecta character to rest as well.

"I cried when he died.

"I do want to handle this sensitively.

Yet sensitivity has never been Francis' strong point, with past characters such as the Northern pant-wetting-kestrel-loving Craig David causing the star to proclaim the show 'ruined his career'.

Francis said: "I made up his character that was so far away from him it wasn't really him.

"Was it really Craig David, UK garage sensation? He had a Yorkshire accent and a kestrel.

"My wife and I had a laugh one night imagining if he wasn't really cool.

"I didn't think 'oh I'm going to ruin his career'.

"I don't think I have. He's sold a lot of records. Is he so upset?

"He must have swotted up on Bo'Selecta because he was quoting from it, I thought he seemed really into it.

"Maybe his management told him that it would look like he's got a sense of humour.

"I don't want to upset anybody, I really don't."

Turning his attention back to Michael Jackson, he reveals the plot of the upcoming special and Leigh's interpretation of the reaction his alternative MJ would have had to the horrible things he has been accused of.

"In the show Michael deals with it in a typically off-centre way. In the show he brings out a workout video for kids and the angle is that MJ is a fattist.

"But the Jackson character says no, it's not true, I am just helping people.

"For me he was a great performer.

"I bought the red and black Thriller jacket that I wear as MJ's costume long before any TV stuff happened.

"It cost me £60 but it felt like £600 at the time so I didn't go out for three weeks.

"But I thought at the time, one day, it'll come in handy - and it did!"

Cha'mone Mo'Fo'Selecta will be aired on E4 on Thursday 24th September.



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