Behind the mask of Britain's Greatest Hoaxer - coming to CH4 next week

Comedian Simon Brodkin has made headlines around the world successfully pranking Sepp Blatter, Kanye West and The X Factor. Now he turns his attention to some new, high-profile subjects for a Channel 4 documentary, Britain’s Greatest Hoaxer. And he’s got none other than US President Donald Trump lined up in his sights. Not only that, he tells Mark Wareham, but he’s also taking the loveable Lee Nelson back on the road for his brand-new Serious Joker tour. Your new documentary is a gripping watch, the way it builds and builds through each of the stunts. The show follows me as I devise, plan and then carry out three big stunts over the last year. You get to feel the tension building up to each stunt and whether or not I’m going to succeed or get arrested, tasered or perhaps shot. I imagine what most people know about me - apart from being Lee Nelson - is that I do stunts, so when Channel 4 asked to follow me for the TV show I thought it was a fun way of showing people exactly what it is I do and how I do it. How do you decide on a target? Well firstly I’m a comedian, so I need to feel that any stunt I do will be something people will enjoy and find funny. But who I target matters to me and I think all of my targets are justifiable. The one person I knew I wanted more than anyone was Donald Trump. I always try and go for individuals and organisations that could do with being brought down to earth, hopefully with a funny bump, the people who go about life like they’re untouchable. If you can burst that bubble just for a split second, that’s where it’s at for me. Watching the documentary you always seem so calm, almost zen-like, in the critical moment of the stunt. What’s your secret? I’m just delighted to be out of the house. Once you’ve had kids, calm is simply being away from them for a few minutes. Also, it’s genuinely a lot of fun - the more wound up you are, the less you can think straight. Maybe my medical training helps. When someone comes in with half their arm off, it’s never helpful for the doctor to just stand still and scream. You’re not nervous? I’m not so much nervous as excited. Although I can tell you when I thought I was about to get caught during the Trump prank my heart was beating at a serious pace. I’d been building up to the stunt for about a year and The Donald was minutes from walking out in front of me when one of his Secret Service agents pointed at me, shook his head and started talking into his radio. When he then begun walking towards me I assumed the whole thing was over. It was a crushing moment. He pointed at me and said, ‘Excuse me, you have to move that’. I looked to my left and there’s a big microphone next to me which belonged to a CNN camera crew. It had nothing to do with me. It took a good few minutes for the ticker to slow, just in time for when he finally did show up. Did you have to change your approach to the pranks? Infiltrating Fifa and pranking Blatter would never have worked if you’d had a camera trailing you. Before this Channel 4 show I always did the stunts on my own. They were self-funded project for my own amusement and the odd day out in court. The actual prank was the beginning, the middle and the end, whether it was 10 seconds throwing money at Sepp Blatter, 20 seconds being with the England team as they went on the plane, or however many seconds performing on stage with Kanye West. Then with this, I was suddenly constantly being filmed and there were times when I was worried that was going to hinder me, especially when we were talking about using a hidden camera. If you’re about to prank Donald Trump the last thing you want is for the Secret Service to frisk you and find a little battery pack and a wire wrapped round your body. That’s going to be mission unsuccessful and seven years in Guantanamo Bay. In the past you were doing the stunts by yourself. Did it make it harder to have to work as part of a team on a TV show? In some ways, yes. Not that there was a big team, it was basically me and a producer who was pointing a camera at me. On your own you can change plans at the click of a finger. With the Kanye West invasion at Glastonbury I staged my plan at the last minute, going round stalls buying gear so I could look like a rapper. With this show I needed to plan things more in advance. I had to be mic’d up and the camera needed to be able to see me. On the other hand, because I was making a television show there was a bit of money in the kitty so I could aim a bit higher. I don’t want to show off but I flew to Scotland twice during this documentary. With the stunt infiltrating Britain’s Got Talent, you seemed passionate about exposing the show’s manipulative core. I know it’s ultimately a popular light-entertainment series, so I can hardly compare taking on Donald J. Trump – the world’s most powerful man in charge of a vast nuclear arsenal – to tricking Amanda Holden. But as well as having a lot of fun, by going on as an utterly ridiculous contestant, I was trying to expose what little talent is required to get through on the show. A good sob story got me a long way. Were you worried that your rapping rabbi was almost too perfect and that they might smell a rat? To research the stunt I watched more of Britain’s Got Talent than it’s reasonable to ask of anyone, and I realised that the whole thing is SO cliché-ridden that ticking too many of the BGT contestant boxes was never going to be a problem. Once you’d trumped him, as it were, what did the security forces do to you? The more stunts I’ve done, the more people have started knowing who I am. When I did one of the early ones, warming up with Manchester City at Goodison Park, the police thought I was just a random nutter (instead of what I am - a professional nutter) and treated me pretty badly, keeping me in the cells as long as possible. But this time, the Scottish police soon realised who I was, and going from potential terrorist to well-known prankster changed their outlook. They were incredibly good to me, as you’ll see in the documentary. They weren’t exactly high-fiving you though? No, they had me in handcuffs and under arrest! Meanwhile the Secret Service and the Counter Terrorism Unit were freaking out wondering who I was, how I did it and whether I was attempting to shoot Trump. I was told Trump was furious and that he wanted the police to prosecute me. But the Scottish Police persuaded him and his people to drop the charges. Eventually Trump said he was happy for the Scottish police to let me go but his security wanted some interview time with me, which I can imagine wouldn’t have been too pleasant – I hate getting water-boarded. However, the Scottish police refused to hand me over for which I’m forever grateful. In fact I had such a good time with eight police officers while handcuffed in the back of a van, at times it I felt like I was on a hen do! They kept telling me how lucky I was to be alive. Always a bonus after a stunt. I guess you may have exposed yourself by doing all these stunts for television, so it’s probably just as well you’re taking a break to go touring. What are your plans for the new show? It’s pure Lee Nelson, although he’s moved on a little. I wouldn’t exactly say he’s grown up but he’s no longer nicking stuff from Sports Direct. In fact last tour he started wearing a suit and for this new Serious Joker tour the suit’s even sharper… having said that the security tag’s still on the sleeve! So I guess he’s just moved on to nicking things from Topman now. So has Lee changed at all beyond the outfit? Well he’s lived a little and has now seen life outside of the estate. He’s had to move on. There’s only so many dogging jokes he can make, and he’s up to fourteen already! Is he maturing as a family man, or is he still a plonker? He’ll always be a plonker.  He’s trying to grow up but failing. Lee at his best is an accidental philosopher. Like when he talks bout being a Dad, ‘Since having kids of my own I now have more respect for the decisions my dad took. I now totally understand why he left us.’ How many kids has he got? Depends what day you catch him. He names them like Posh and Becks do. There’s little Stairwell. Clio, that was in the back of an old car. Nina was in the back of a police car. And he’s just had baby George. That was in the back of Asda. On the last tour He started talking about politics. In this new tour does he talk about Brexit? He actually voted to leave. But regrets it now - he thought they were asking about Scotland again. Britain’s Greatest Hoaxer, Channel 4, Feb 7 at 10pm Lee Nelson’s Serious Joker tour starts Feb 22, www.leenelson.com