Danny Dyer Has a Butcher’s at Aliens

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It’s a miracle I’ve gone this long without tackling the works of Danny Dyer, who’s one of those celebrities that embraces their stereotype so hard, they’ve become an actual cartoon. I’ve often wondered what genuine Italians make of Gino D’Acampo’s Super Mario accent — “Mama mia! I’ve dropped-a the spaghetti!” but speaking as a real British person, Dyer seems like the offensive creation of an enemy nation trying to bait us into war. It’s been grimly fascinating to watch, in real time, Dyer’s transformation from the swaggering prick who once told a reader of his advice column to cut their ex’s face so nobody else would want her, into a swaggering prick who’s a national treasure; and all by taking his terrible acting to Eastenders. If that’s what it takes to rehabilitate your image, Ian Brady should have put in a stint behind the bar at the Vic before he snuffed it, and his obits might have looked back kindly on the loveable rogue who sang karaoke with Ian Beale and come off the Walford FC subs bench to replace an injured Ricky Butcher and score the winning goal, turning a blind eye to all that nasty business with the murdered kids. It worked for the cabbie killer.

(Note: I originally penned this piece before Dyer’s recent TV appearance, where he referred to David Cameron as a twat, and to his feet as ‘trotters’, and was promptly carried aloft through ticker tape parades beneath impassioned cries of “Danny Dyer for PM!”)

01

Not that Danny Dyer’s a murderer, but since his recent teatime turns on the BBC have put him on the path from gutter-dwelling punchline into nan-friendly icon, it seems unlikely we’ll get another moment of foul-mouthed accidental-art, like he and Nick Love’s DVD commentary for the abysmal Outlaw, or more of his documentaries. For a while, Dyer was the face of docs for morons about hooligans and gangsters, riding his rep of having played a hooligan in a film once to hang out with ‘hard’ and ‘dangerous’ men, and react to them in a really cockney way. Why fanny about with private school ponces like Broomfield or Theroux when you can have a real life Jim London, stone the bleedin’ crows me old china, off for a cheeky Nandos, oi oi saveloy, look at the milkers on that right sort, and so on? But Dyer’s journalistic back catalogue doesn’t consist entirely of debt collectors with bent noses, as he once put aside the jellied eels for long enough to go looking for aliens.

Danny Dyer – I Believe in UFOs opens on Dyer telling us that “every six minutes, someone somewhere on Erf sees a UFO.” Sadly, it doesn’t go the whole ‘Bono clicking his fingers when a child starves’ and cut away every 360 seconds to show him violently nutting someone from a rival firm. “See that UFO did ya? Ur Fuckin’ ‘ospital bill!” I do feel at home here, in another alien doc that begins with montages of people pointing at out of focus lights in the sky, and a narrator that wants to believe we’re not alone. Consequently, like every celebrity doing a shit investigation, he’s “going on a journey,” which sadly doesn’t refer to an actual ride inside a barrel over the edge of a cliff, but a journey of belief and self-reflection. As we must, the first step of such a pilgrimage is to share one’s mission statement — “My name’s Danny Dyer, and I believe in UFOs.” While Shaun Ryder definitely believed in what he was talking about, the only thing I’ll wager Dyer believes in is making a few bob to play the wideboy while talking to a few damaged eccentrics, and he sets out on his quest with all the sincerity of a bully calling you ‘mate’ while putting his arm around your shoulder so tightly that it hurts.

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Our first interviewee is, as we’re told by Dyer from the back of a minivan, is “a very, very intelligent man.” By his standards, that could be an actual scarecrow, or someone who thinks it’s “could of,” but in a further clue, it’s “a man I was brought up watching… a very old man now, unfortunately. I fink he’s 86 years of age.” As a sidenote, ‘of age’ always makes me laugh for some reason. “An old man of 86? 86 what? Hands high? Penises? Ah, years of age, why didn’t you say?” Anyway, it is of course Sir Patrick Moore, and chances are, on meeting Danny Dyer, Moore’s going to assume the BBC have brought him a primitive alien lifeform. Danny gets off to a bad start, confused by the artwork on the walls of Moore’s country cottage, like a picture of a palm tree, “these caricatures of ideas… what does it all mean? What does it all mean?

But Moore’s an old hand with this alien line, and politely fields the questions with characteristic bluster. Asked if there’s intelligent life out there, Moore responds with an immediate yes. He believes that we have to try and find it if we’re ever to discover life in the vastness of the universe, which is music to Danny’s ears, glad that Moore didn’t say “there’s nuffink going on, boy” and “shattered me dreams,” but given him hope. It’d be remiss of me to not mention how much Moore enjoyed a high trouser in later life, with the waistband almost up under his chin. If he’d lived another five years, he’d have been eating his dinner through the fly.

03

Danny needn’t have worried about Patrick Moore taking offense at the low-brow subject of aliens, as he’s got a storied history of his own. In 1954, while holidaying in Scotland, a man named Cedric Allingham witnessed a flying saucer, and began telepathically communicating with its Martian pilot. Allingham’s book about his experience, Flying Saucer from Mars, was a fairly major hit, even covered by TIME magazine, at the height of 1950’s space-brother mania. Allingham was a mysterious and elusive figure, and with a single known photo that showed him stood beside an enormous telescope, investigators found him hard to trace, with rumours that he’d died from TB in a Swiss clinic. But there was one person who claimed to have met him; Patrick Moore. In 1986, Moore was revealed as the true co-author, along with friend, Peter Davies, who’d donned a false moustache to portray the fictional writer, in an early version of the JT LeRoy scam. The big telescope was recognisable as one of Moore’s, though he’d heaved it out of his garden shed, to throw friends off the scent. He strenuously denied his involvement in the affair, threatening to sue accusers, though he never did. Around the time of the Allingham hoax, Moore also starred in Them and the Thing, a flying saucer b-movie directed by Desmond Leslie, who’s otherwise best known for punching theatre critic Bernard Levin in the face on live TV for giving his wife’s play a bad review.

04

Invigorated by the hopeful message of Patrick Moore, Danny’s “on my way to look at a very British phenomenon, that’s been causing a bit of a rumble for years.” It better not be that fucking ‘is Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?’ shite. Thankfully, it’s crop circles, and eager to run around with a few hippies, Danny gets his wish, wandering through an intricate crop design with a bunch of Nu-Agers, where all sorts of energies are being felt. “Wow… feel somefing special’s ‘appened here, din’t ya?” he says, as experts stress that something so incredible couldn’t possibly be man-made; harping on about otherworldly intelligence and energy fields, leaving Danny convinced “a bunch of blokes larkin’ about couldn’t’ve done all this.” It must have been “from that mob up there.

Ah, the eternal battle between believers and sceptics. Now within touching distance of a real breakthrough, and perhaps imbued with galaxy-brain crop-magic, Dyer rages at the sheeple who don’t give any serious thought to life’s mysteries; something he admits to being guilty of in the past, having seen pictures of crop circles in the paper and thought “‘that looks a bit mad’; turn the page, have a look at a pair of tits.” Then he meets some circle-makers, who are alas, just human beings, though one of them’s wearing a flame-shirt which Danny compliments. High on the alien theory, and planning to rush them with “who the fuck do you fink you are?”, Danny’s brought back to Earth with a Roswell-sized bump, when he realises all those power-infused interstellar messages, which could never be made by a man, had been in fact literally been done by a couple of blokes with a plank and a piece of rope.

05

But still clinging to hope, having heard about “summink so mysterious, even UFO sceptics struggle to explain it,” it’s onto that boring old chestnut, cattle mutilation. If he happens upon a cow that’s had her face slashed with a stanley knife, I’m gonna need a little more proof. Out in the sticks, he meets the Animal Pathology Field Unit, which turns out not to be a government organisation, but just some men who’ve formed an official-sounding club, like when I lead the Mr. T Bully Defence Force as an eight-year-old. The APFU — never good letters to end an initialism on — turn up at farms unannounced to show off their binder of mutilated cattle porn, and give subtle warnings about “something that is aerial” butchering their livestock. The farmer greets it with the weary side-eye reserved for door-to-door Jesus enthusiasts, before surprising them by emerging with his own album of decapitated sheep, causing an elated Dyer to exclaim “I feel like a Ghostbuster!

Now woke to the real alien presence, Danny’s on a plane to America to meet someone with first hand experience of ETs. But first, he visits a genuine American diner, to exclaim “fahkin’ hell, Jesus Christ,” at an enormous breakfast, while wearing a t-shirt that reads ‘SMUT’, where the M is a silhouette of a naked lady with her legs spread. Dyer’s contactee is the infamous Stan Romanek, who claims multiple visits from aliens, and a body that’s riddled with off-world implants. He plays Danny the famous video, which shows Romanek tip-toing towards his kitchen window like a Merry Melodies burglar, before an abysmal-quality CG alien head peeks through the glass. All Danny can do is drop an f-bomb, and accuse Romanek of mincing too camply in the footage. But the evidence keeps coming, in x-rays of his hip, where a little alien implant is visible, and a picture of him holding a test tube containing a colour-changing “nanobiological organism.” Although, I was distracted by his choice of t-shirt in the photo, which reads ‘I’M A NAUGHTY BOY (can I go to YOUR room?)‘. Most damning of all is Romanek’s ‘leaked’ letter from the Pentagon about Project Romanek, which has been sending alien visitors to his home.

06

It’s almost too much for our host, left rubbing his eyes and unable to comprehend, “why is that not splashed over every news channel, all over the world?” For all its blasé beginnings, this simple documentary has shaken Danny Dyer to the core. “Some of the shit he’s shown me in there is unbelievable. He’s got evidence of aliens pokin’ their ‘ead round the fuckin’ windah and havin’ a pipe at him.” He feels like he’s losing the plot, physically shaking and unable to tell if Romanek was just taking the piss, or if his entire world-view just got shredded. In a rare moment of insight, Danny notes that Romanek’s got an agent, who demanded $50k for the alien footage. But now obsessed, he worries he’s caught UFO fever, desperate for something tangible. It’s not for me to judge if the guy was on the level, but since the filming of this interview, Stan Romanek has talked about fathering multiple alien-hybrid children, admitted to faking footage of a poltergeist, and been found guilty on possession of child pornography.

It wouldn’t be a UFO doc if we didn’t go up a hill — “Another hill? Why is it always hills?” — to attempt telepathic communication with them lot up in space, with a bloke called Phil who plays a dictaphone filled with alien languages down a walkie talkie for the aliens to hear. “Could either be genius real,” posits Danny, “or a complete load of bollocks.” Phil plays the alien noises from the movie Signs and everyone looks hopefully towards the sky, while a caption explains that any radio message would take 4 years to reach the nearest star. At this point, Danny’s increasing UFO madness and growing paranoia manifests in getting freaked out by the clouds, which he deems to be scarily spaceship-shaped. But there’s no response from the ETs, as everyone stands around flashing torches into the sky. It’s not even dark, and Danny worries they’re all lunatics. “We’ve got a young cockney, who wants to believe… but nuffink. Not a fuckin’ thing.” Empty handed once more, he suggests the government chuck a few coins Phil’s way, though he’s worried once the aliens land “…and start shaking everyone’s hands, they’ll probably blank Phil… that’ll be the irony.”

07

By this point, Danny’s restless, having met countless people who’ve had their experiences, but yet to have his own. Getting desperate, he needs summink to get him excited again, so it’s back on a plane, this time to Washington State, home of the first famous UFO sighting in 1947. A hippie commune at a UFO hotspot seems like his best chance for finding answers, plus there might be “free love and all that.” The same ranch that Robbie Williams stayed at in that period he wasn’t well and got obsessed with aliens, the head hippie informs Danny the overlooking mountain’s got a door in it, where the spacecraft fly in and out. But he can’t just look at the sky here, and first must participate in group spiritual activities, where a nervous Danny, having to open his mind and let go, is afraid of “mugging meself off.”

08

As the group opens their chakras with dumb hippie exercises, they start laughing with the mass hysteria of a religious revival. Meanwhile, he’s laughing like he’s just seen someone slip in dogshit, winking at the camera, and makes his excuses before leaving. But outside, he feels drunk and disoriented, “suh-ink’s happened to me, but I dunno what.” For the first time, he’s truly afraid, because when you open up spiritually, “all you got is your brain, and your fuckin’ thoughts.” Everything culminates in a final skywatch, where Danny immediately sees something. “Get on that,” he cries. The old hippie sees it too. Everyone cheers. “Fuckin ‘ell,” says Danny, finally vindicated, “that’s massive, innit?” Now they’re all seeing things; lights, a ship powering up, a doorway to the inner Earth. There are shrieks and woos, and Danny’s seen four or five alien craft. At last living up to the title of his show, Danny Dyer finally believes. “I’ve done it,” he laughs triumphantly, “I’ve done it. That is a fuckin’ UFO.”

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~ by Stuart on October 7, 2018.

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