Michael Jackson’s former bodyguard, Matthew Fiddes, discontinued his libel case against Channel 4 yesterday (21 June). Fiddes, had been arguing that Cutting Edge documentary The Jackson’s Are Coming, which followed Tito and Katherine Jackson moving to Devon, had been dishonestly edited to portray him exploiting the Jacksons and betraying their trust. However, appearing before Justice Tugendhat, Fiddes’s solicitors withdrew his case, admitting publicly that the programme was “not faked”. The total expenses incurred in the action are estimated to be in excess of £3m. Fiddes himself was not present in court, with his lawyer citing heavy traffic for his absence.
Viewers of Channel 4’s topical comedy programme, the TNT show, saw the last segment of the programme unexpectedly cut last night.
The channel cut to a station ident, with text reading “this programme will continue in sound only”. However, no sound was forthcoming, apart from an apology for the lack of transmission from a continuity announcer. Index on Censorship has discovered that the show was cut short because of a joke about Michael Jackson, whose death had been reported on the Internet only minutes before the broadcast began.
The joke apparently concerned rumours that Jackson used stand-ins for public appearances. The hosts, comics Holly Walsh and Jack Whitehall, then claimed to have the real Jackson in the studio, and proceeded to interview an impersonator with an Essex accent.
A Channel 4 spokeswoman told Index: “In last night’s broadcast of The TNT Show, a topical late night entertainment series, a sketch, that had been recorded two days earlier, covered a news story about Michael Jackson and his rumoured stand-ins. In light of the breaking news of his death, C4 felt it was appropriate not to broadcast the sketch and advised viewers of the cut in transmission.”