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The HTV programme on crop circles, awaited with some trepidation by croppies, finally went out at 5.30pm in some UK ITV areas on Sunday 16th September. So what was the final score for the show which went out under the title ‘The Corn Artists’..? Can you guess? MICHAEL GLICKMAN reviews the latest televisual masterpiece…

Good documentary makers often become first rate film directors. Poor documentary makers are the TV version of rotten journalists and, like them, they have little talent, discernment or pride but, often, a persuasive and credible charm.

In this respect the makers of HTV’s offering were eminently qualified to cobble together the latest dollop of media disinformation on the crop circle phenomenon. In the manner of all low-level hacks, the makers obviously believe that a pun, a play on words, is cripplingly funny. In case we were not immediately dazzled by the searing wit of the title, a graphic showed us that CORN could very simply be changed to CON. Geddit? A joke that needs explaining is not funny. A joke that needs such laborious clarification is painfully embarrassing.

As was the programme itself.

I accept that I am prejudiced. I acknowledge that I feel uncomfortable at having been duped into taking a (thankfully tiny) part in this piece of breathtaking superficiality, as were our esteemed Swirled News editor and other good-hearted folk. What is it that makes presumably sane programmers commit good money to patently lightweight flim-flam? How can it be broadcast to the British Public under the entirely fraudulent rubric of ‘information’? Why do they do it? EVERY YEAR? And why do we so obediently swallow the same old garbage? Why do the TV houses, and the newspapers, display such charlatanism?

We had footage of Hippy celebrations, footage (repeated) of a couple lying down and holding hands in a circle, a clearly deranged woman telling how she saw three metre-long silvery (between metal and plastic) blades descending into a field to make the circles, interviews with unidentified foreign gents in the fields, interviews with a jovial crackpot in Avebury, while that other jovial japester, Peter Sorensen, tried to persuade us (again) that they were all man-made.

This, it was clear, was the object of the exercise. Much time was given to the usual mob, the Lundbergs, the Dickinsons, the Williams, and we were introduced to several of their young protégés who looked just as shifty and miserable as their gang bosses. We were shown preparations and enactments of hoaxing activity and also some aerial footage of wonderful formations. By implication, by omission and by editing, we were to believe that all the formations shown were man-made.

Lies, lies, lies! Did you know that croppies invented the name Team Satan to show how much we despised them? Nor did I. I seem to remember their pride at their pathetic name, but thank you presenter Patrick O’Hagan for correcting us.

But we did get two elements of truth. Firstly, Colin Andrews’s and others’ loudly trumpeted certainty that the HTV ‘documentary’ would definitively expose the Milk Hill event as a fake was, as expected, hot air. Secondly, and this will come as a real shock to some of you, little Mattie Williams was caught on camera actually telling the TRUTH. He said that his design drafts took only a few minutes to produce. Don’t say I didn’t tell you!

Following this unappetising confection, I can make my predictions for the 2002 season. Andrews and Sorensen will still be around, though fading fast. It is widely believed by some that they are on a payroll. Most of the hoax claimants are well past their sell-by date (Williams seems to have cleaned up his appearance a bit - maybe he’s getting a job?). But clearly they have enough acolytes lined up to carry on their flaky enterprise. Another TV company will appear next year making more weasel promises about “balance”. Once again, Team Satan will be hired to do another tired old demonstration and another misleading documentary will be aired. The British Public will be, as every year, deceived.



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