Singer's undress rehearsal becomes a holy show
God-fearing farmer bars Rihanna's body from barley field, writes Ken Sweeney
AS A SINGER who is never knowingly overdressed, Rihanna has no shortage of male fans. But when she chose to shoot her latest video on a farm in the North, she found one man immune to her charms.
Farmer Alan Graham (61) was so shocked to see the singer in his barley field wearing a red bikini that he pulled up his tractor, objected to her "inappropriate state of undress" and called a swift halt to proceedings, instructing her to brush up on her Bible reading before sending her on her way.
Mr Graham revealed yesterday he had not been warned about risque scenes involving the singer that were filmed on his land.
Jetting into Ireland for a number of concerts, the Barbados born superstar took time out to shoot a video in barley fields near Bangor, Co Down, for her new single 'We Found Love', a collaboration with dance music producer Calvin Harris.
But when the 23-year-old stripped off from a long, checked dress to reveal a bikini, the sight was much for the DUP councillor's Christian beliefs, and he politely asked for filming to be stopped.
"The young lady in question was ceasing to be dressed in an appropriate manner. At that point I realised things were getting to a stage which I was not happy with, and I wasn't prepared to allow this to become a compromise, so I spoke to the film people and asked them to stop," Mr Graham told the Irish Independent last night.
The 61-year-old member of the Reverend Ian Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church also spoke to Rihanna herself about his concerns, who he described as "gracious" and "understanding" of where he was coming from, and who shook hands with him before they parted.
"There is an issue here: should young women be exploited? Should their beauty be exploited in an inappropriate way?" he said, confirming that the crew were mostly Irish.
Mr Graham, whose hay shed carries a giant quote from the Bible, said he had been told very little about the shoot, which had been arranged in an "ad hoc" manner with a locations manager who had contacted him the previous Friday about using his barley fields near the Bangor to Belfast duel carriageway for filming.
"The man offered to buy the crop of barley off me, in case I needed to harvest it. The arrangement was that I would leave the barley uncut for the film makers to use as a backdrop," said Mr Graham, who said the field of barley was worth around £1,800 (€2,000).
The father of four said he had not been told that the filming would involve Rihanna, but was "happy and content" with an earlier part of the shoot that featured the young singer running through a field of his barley, watched by onlookers. It was only towards the end of the filming when the action moved to a neighbouring field that he grew concerned.
"I was just about to get into my tractor to drive home when I saw things getting beyond what I was expecting. It was at that stage I thought, 'hold on a minute' this is getting a wee bit unacceptable so I asked them to stop. I'm not out to condemn the young lady, she is obviously working in a different environment than I am used to living in, but I come from a Christian ethos."
Mr Graham said he had not received any payment for the filming on his 60-acre farm at Clandeboye.
The incident even prompted a political debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly, where Peter Robinson was asked by Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt if potential US investors might be deterred, given that the pop star had been forced from a field for nothing more than "wearing red, white and blue".
She spent yesterday afternoon filming in the New Lodge area of the city, in a local square known as 'the Grotto', where up to 1,000 fans of all ages arrived in the area to catch a glimpse of the singer.
Rihanna is in Ireland to play three dates in Belfast's Odyssey Arena this weekend and the O2 in Dublin next Monday.