'I'm horrified that people thought I actually went to the toilet in the street' - star of Newry anti-dog mess video
Joanne Sweeney talks to the star of Newry and Mourne District Council's shocking anti-dog-fouling ad that divided opinion
As acting roles go, playing someone who defecates in public was unlikely to have been one of Nick Lewis's greatest thespian ambitions.
But the 42-year-old Newry man is surprisingly defensive of the role that has shocked tens of thousands of people across Northern Ireland, after the public information video he starred in went viral.
Nick, also known as Louie the Entertainer, is a professionally-trained actor whose talents have never been in greater demand since starring as the man who relieves himself on a Newry pavement.
He received around £80 for his role from the production company who made it for the council.
Indeed, Nick played his role so well in the Newry and Mourne District Council anti-dog-fouling advertisement that the reaction to it had a definite whiff of disapproval.
"I would be horrified to think anyone actually believed that I defecated in front of the council offices," Nick said in response to those who were offended by the content. "While I know there seemed to be a lot of negative comment about it, I think that most people think that the video is a bit of craic. I've had nothing but positive comments, particularly from young people who thought it was a bit of a gas really."
The one-minute clip was filmed in the city last summer and received more than 8,000 views within eight hours after it recently appeared on the council's Facebook page. Although it has since been removed, it has had nearly 6,000 views on YouTube.
The ad shows Nick struggling to control a spaniel as they walk around Newry. He then admonishes the dog before dropping his trousers and pretending to defecate on the pavement. The soundtrack asks 'Who let the dogs c***?' to the tune of the Baha Men chart hit. The video ends with a question for dog owners: "You wouldn't c**p in the street. Why let your dog c**p on Newry and Mourne?"
Some viewers felt the ad - and the image of Nick defecating on the pavement - went too far, but despite the outcry, Nick, a Welshman who now lives in Newry, said he's been treated like something of a local celebrity since it went viral.
"I've been stopped in the street by people who want to get their picture taken with me," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "The phone hasn't stopped and I can only imagine that it's a result of the video.
"I'm having to turn away a lot of the work but it's nice that there's a lot more hits on my website."
The father-of-two is an Equity-registered actor and a well-known family fun entertainer who is a regular at festivals throughout Northern Ireland.
He said he's happy to be associated with the controversial video. "I've got two dogs myself so I know there is a real issue with dog fouling. I don't think that the softly, softly approach works on this. I was right up for it when I was approached by a local production company to take part."