In Depth

Grimsby outraged over Sacha Baron Cohen film treatment

Ali G and Borat star begins filming new movie about spies and football hooliganism in the northern town

Sacha Baron Cohen has drawn the ire of people in Kazakhstan, America and Staines. Now the people of Grimsby are up in arms.

The Ali G and Borat star is working on a new film called Grimsby, about a spy forced to go on the run with his football hooligan brother in the 1980s.

Baron Cohen has been filming scenes in the Essex port town of Tilbury, which has been made to look like a rundown version of the Lincolnshire fishing port – complete with litter-strewn lawns, graffiti, dilapidated shops and residents urinating out of their windows.

But residents of the real Grimsby are not happy with the depiction of their town. One local told the Grimsby Telegraph: "They made Grimsby out to be a terrible and dirty place to live. It's not on."

Another complained that the filming should at least have been done in Lincolnshire. "Why are they not filming it in Grimsby? That way they would be putting money into the area."

North East Lincolnshire councillor Matthew Brown told the Daily Mail that the film was using the town's name in a potentially "poor light" with no benefit to the local economy.

"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," he said.

It comes two years after Staines officially changed its name to Staines-upon-Thames, partly to distance itself from the 2002 Ali G Indahouse movie set in the town.

Baron Cohen has also come under fire from the government of Kazakhstan, which threatened to sue him over his 2006 film Borat – although it now appears to have relaxed its stance after thanking the filmmakers for helping to boost tourism in the country.

Tilbury's local council also seems happy. A spokesman said the filming has helped to highlight the area and show it as "a centre of culture and creativity".

But some Essex residents are not so pleased. One contacted the Grimsby Telegraph to complain: "There's graffiti everywhere and they are putting rubbish bins in the streets. Everyone is kicking up a storm because now Tilbury looks like Grimsby."

Others have been left bewildered. Bethany Casey, a 19-year-old Tilbury local, told the Thurrock Gazette: "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."

Grimbsy, scheduled for release in September 2015, is expected to star a number of famous faces including Penelope Cruz, Rebel Wilson, Lovejoy's Ian McShane and Isla Fisher.

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