The Mail on Sunday

The whole El­ton f ilm is a sick­en­ing lie, says Wombles leg­end Mike Batt

- By Chris Hast­ings and Mark Nicol

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.

 ??  ?? ‘MAK­ING A MYTH’: Taron Eger­ton as El­ton John, Bryce Dal­las Howard as his mother Sheila and Richard Mad­den as John Reid. Left: Mike Batt in 1975
‘MAK­ING A MYTH’: Taron Eger­ton as El­ton John, Bryce Dal­las Howard as his mother Sheila and Richard Mad­den as John Reid. Left: Mike Batt in 1975
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