The Mail on Sunday
The whole Elton f ilm is a sickening lie, says Wombles legend Mike Batt
WOMBLES creator Mike Batt has launched an astonishing attack on the new Elton John film Rocketman, criticising it as ‘sickening, vengeful and vicious’.
The singer-songwriter accused Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish, who produced the movie, of rewriting history and peddling lies in an attempt to settle scores.
Batt, who worked closely with Elton’s first manager Ray Williams, claimed the couple had used the film to put ‘the boot into people’ they felt had crossed the star.
He said: ‘The whole film is a lie. Disgusting dishonesty that should be called out. Elton and his husband should be ashamed of themselves.
‘ The film cleverly poses as a brave, honest confession, but is actually an outpouring of bile towards everyone Elton wants to blame for what he became and what he did, casting him as a victim who triumphs over adversity.
‘I’m hugely disappointed in someone I once respected and admired. Having selfish, angry tantrums and reducing assistants to tears is one thing, but putting the boot into all of these people is f****** outrageous.’
Batt, now 70, started in the pop business when he responded to an advert for new talent that Williams placed in the music press in 1967. Sir Elton – then plain Reg Dwight – and his future songwriting partner Bernie Taupin responded to the same advert, and Williams signed them on the same day.
The film, which is expected to replicate the box-office success of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, stars Taron Egerton as Sir Elton.
It charts his battle against drink and drugs against a backdrop of fantasy sequences featuring some of the star’s biggest hits.
Batt, who posted his withering critique on Facebook, conceded there was much to admire in the film, especially the performances, but added: ‘Just hate to see this sickening, vengeful, vicious dishonesty.’
He said the depiction of John Reid, Elton’s ex- manager and lover – played by Bodyguard star Richard Madden – was particularly biased. ‘His portrayal as an uncaring sexgod manipulator is weapons-grade character assassination,’ he wrote.
Batt also took exception to the portrayal of Elton’s mother Sheila – as played by Bryce Dallas Howard – saying she ‘wasn’t at all like the boozy character in the movie’.
The film has also come under fire from the son of music publisher Dick James, who complained about his father’s portrayal as yobbish and foul- mouthed. In one scene James, played by Line Of Duty actor Stephen Graham, describes Reid as a ‘f****** poofter’.
Mr James’s son Stephen, now 72, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘My father has been misrepresented and is really the victim of the film. That is not who my father was. He would never have used the F-word or a homophobic term like “poofter”.’
A spokesman for the film last night defended the way it had deviated from reality. He said: ‘Art is about creating myths to reveal the truth. This is Elton’s life as a musical fantasy. We set out to celebrate Elton John’s imagination, creativity and wondrous possibility.’
Batt subsequently deleted his Facebook post, with his spokesman explaining that he did not want the page to become filled with comments about Sir Elton.