Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Rihanna's Co Down Christian farmer set to 'clean up pop'

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 26 September 2011 -International singer Rihanna pictutred this afternoon at a field near Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland where she was recording a video for one of her new songs.Mandatory credit:Picture by Stephen Hamilton/ Presseye.com
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 26 September 2011 -International singer Rihanna pictutred this afternoon at a field near Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland where she was recording a video for one of her new songs.Mandatory credit:Picture by Stephen Hamilton/ Presseye.com
Rihanna

He made headlines across the world when he took on superstar Rihanna, but now Bangor farmer Alan Graham is taking on the whole music industry in his mission to clean up pop.

The DUP councillor and devout Christian became a figure of fun when he stopped raunchy starlet Rihanna filming her award winning video We Found Love in his barley field after she took her top off in September 2011.

But when celebs like Dannii Minogue and Barbara Windsor backed Alan's old fashioned values, the wave of public opinion began to turn.

Soon, Alan was bombarded with letters of support from across the globe for his stance, some simply addressed to 'Rihanna's Farmer' which still managed to reach him.

Now the 63-year-old father of four is starring in a BBC show of the same name tomorrow night which follows his campaign to make pop videos, which he describes as "porn to music", less provocative and sexual.

The unlikely media darling is filmed in London, Dublin and at home in Bangor meeting a host of influential figures including X Factor judge Louis Walsh, soul singer Mica Paris, 80s popstar Sinitta, showbiz editor of The Sun Gordon Smart and former lads mag favourite Gail Porter -- who once had her naked body projected on the Houses of Parliament.

The farmer attends a debate on hip-hop where he gets the views of civil rights campaigner, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and also has to face west Belfast hip-hop dance troupe Rapture who missed out on their big break in the We Found Love video after he pulled the plug.

Speaking exclusively to Sunday Life, Alan, who is currently recovering from a small heart attack which he suffered last month, said he's continued to follow Rihanna's exploits since her visit.

"I still keep an eye on what she's up to, I wouldn't be indifferent to her," he said.

"I haven't swept her aside -- I suppose you could say that I care for her wellbeing and I hope she's well and happy.

"I would love for her to see the programme and know what she makes of it.

"But I suspect watching anything with me in it is pretty far down her to-do list."

Alan said that after the furore surrounding their meeting, he was happy to set the record straight about what really happened.

"People made me out to be a grumpy old man who wouldn't allow anyone to have a bit of fun but I think a line was crossed that was unacceptable," he said.

On his decision to stop the filming he said: "I didn't shout at her, I just told her: 'Rihanna, I'm a Christian.'

"She told me she understood and was sympathetic to my Christian viewpoint. We shook hands four or five times before she left.

"I never intended the story to see the light of day. I confided in a few close friends what had happened, but once the topless pictures got out and the media found out, that was it."

Alan has since turned down several big money national TV offers, but said he agreed to make Rihanna's Farmer because he wanted to help clean up the pop industry.

"Although, of course, I can see there is a funny side to the Rihanna story, to me it raised more serious issues about the images our children are bombarded with," he said.

"After Rihanna left, I suspected this was not the end of the story. I think it happened to me for a reason.

"We need to look at how we view women. Women are not a commodity to validate men.

"They are not to be valued because of how they look, but for what their talents are."

* Rihanna's Farmer is a Waddell Media production and airs on BBC One tomorrow at 10.35pm.

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