I will never, ever, ever agree to going on television again. And I will never, ever, ever agree to helping people who are poor and “deserving of a chance”. Frankly they’re in the cesspool of their own misery for a reason and there’s nothing that can be done.
You will see me on the Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire in a few weeks and be able to draw your own conclusions, but before you do I just want to set the record straight. I was asked to go to the Stoops estate in Burnley. On my first day I saw a banner on the railings by the bridge – “Happy 30th birthday – Nana”. I promised to put some money on the table and encourage local enterprise. They asked me to pretend to be a social worker, which is harder than you’d think. Tactfully, I left the Ferrari at home – and what a good job. The Hummer got keyed and one of the locals tried to crowbar the family crest off one of the wheels.
Everyone complained about debt problems, so I decided to do a bit of undercover work of my own. The problem was there was no money since Cattles had been run out of town and the IVA boys had got their wings clipped. So I set up two local lads in a business providing “flexible finance solutions”. I didn’t think it was fair to mention this to the producers because it was a sideline.
At the community centre everyone was saying they were bored with no money, especially the single mums. Lightbulb time. With some lighting and plenty of make up, some scrubbed up alright. I offered to make Thursday nights at the centre into Peppermint Hippos, local talent night, if you like.
That’s when it kicked off. I was accused of being a pimp, drug dealer and a loan shark. All true, except for the drug thing – that was just the car. Thing is, I never agreed to that being on the programme. I’ve never seen a mob like it; they obviously don’t have pitchforks and torches in Burnley, just petrol bombs and hammers. One of the lads had to get me out with his helicopter landing on the roof.
So I’m done. I have one final brush with TV people up my sleeve – a “drink off” between Ricky Hatton and Freddie Flintoff. It starts in Players Bar at the Four Seasons at the end of September. Freddie has to pocket his dough from the Indians and duff up the Windies. Ricky needs a lift after he got battered in Vegas. Frankly, the last time someone got that badly beaten around the ring they ended up face down in Michael Barrymore's pool.