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MAGIC CIRCLE; Gang admits to field stunt - and every other `mystery' appearance.

Byline: JILL STARK

THE men behind the Richard and Judy crop circle yesterday confirmed what we all knew - it was a publicity stunt.

And paranormal experts will be gutted to learn Rod Dickinson and John Lundberg have confessed to almost every "unexplained"crop circle in Britain.

After the chat show stars' faces appeared in a field near Edinburgh it was obvious aliens were not to blame.

And the Record can reveal the annual crop circle phenomenon is a sham.

Channel 4 gave a team of hoaxers pounds 5000 in a desperate bid to plug the chat show hosts' new teatime programme. Farmer Steven Barr is believed to have pocketed pounds 1000 for the use of his field.

It took just over six hours to create the image of the TV couple in a Balerno field.

Rod Dickinson of Circlemakers, a London-based collective of artists and designers, said they were approached by programme makers.

He believes Mel Gibson's latest blockbuster Signs - a sci-fi thriller about crop circles - has captured the public's imagination.

He said: "People seem to want this sort of thing at the moment, it's the latest strain in advertising.

"It could be to do with the movie Signs. It has given what we do a lot of publicity.

"It's quite an expensive way to get publicity. We had to fly six people up to Scotland to work on it and the farmer has to be paid as well.

"In the past we have done crop circles for companies like Orange and Weetabix.

"This one took us about six hours and we were surprised no one found out locally. There were planes and gliders overhead all day because there's an airfield nearby."

Advertising work allows Dickinson and partner John Lundberg to fund the "covert" side of their business.

Every summer elaborate crop circles mysteriously appear in fields across Britain. The work is always carried out at night usually without the farmers' knowledge.

Sci-fi enthusiasts maintain the strange formations are proof we are not alone in the universe. But Circlemakers admit they make careers out of fooling the public. Dickinson has been sneaking into fields for 11 years and says there is no mystery behind the practice.

He said: "All the big crop circles that have captured people's imagination over the past few years were made by us.

"They are made covertly. We don't tell the farmer. It's all done in complete darkness using no lights.

"It's art with mass participation. It's about making something that generates myths and folklore. It's about people who have dedicated a lot of time to working out how to make these complex, beautiful things.

"We've been very public for six to seven years about what we have done.

"We let cameras film us in the act, but the next year everyone has forgotten.

"There's a willingness on people's part to buy into the myths. People don't want to hear that it's not true."

Team member Matthew Lawrence, 30, said the Edinburgh job had been a great success.

He said: "It takes meticulous planning. They are designed on computer and the dimensions are taken into the field with us.

"The crops are simply flattened with boards. Farmers can pick up everything we flatten so there is no damage at all."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 19, 2002
Words:544
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