Comedian 'theft' publicity stunt backfires


Lee Nelson stuntPhilip Toscano/PA Wire

Comedy character Lee Nelson staged a fake theft of his own DVD in Oxford Street yesterday, to entertain fans who had arrived for a DVD signing. However, after being chased around the store by an actor in police uniform, they spilled out onto the street where it all went horribly wrong.

A real police officer saw what he thought was a real crime, and stepped in.


Nelson, a character invented by Simon Brodkin, and star of 'Lee Nelson's Well Good Show', ran out of the store, pursued by the actor. Unfortunately, a nearby Police Community Support Officer saw the chase, and thought there was a real robbery in progress.

He joined the chase, and the three men tussled in the street. Then the PCSO marched him back to the store and forced him to the ground. At this point the comedian came clean that it had all been a stunt.

Later Brodkin issued a statement as Nelson, saying: "How can you get arrested for nicking your own DVD? Mr Loophole lawyer, if you're reading this, get me off and I'll sort you out with the 20 other DVDs I took."

A spokesman for HMV told the Daily Mail "If anyone was alarmed then we're sorry, but most people there could see it was just a bit of a playful stunt."

Worst stunts

Publicity stunts are always a bit of a risk, and there have been plenty to go horribly awry.

The team behind the launch of racing game BurnOut planned to pay for all speeding fines issued in London on the day it was released. It was only when police intervened to refuse them permission that it occurred to them that it might not be the safest idea they ever had.

Vodafone was left red-faced after a New Zealand vs Australia rugby match, where two streakers invaded the pitch in nothing but Vodafone logos. They were arrested and the company apologised after admitting it had offered to pay any fines the pair faced.

The launch of Resident Evil 5 was accompanied by a campaign of leaving fake severed limbs around London for players to find. The resulting panic apparently took the game-makers by surprise.

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