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From Gentleman's Walk to the BBC - Charlie Chaplin living statue makes appearance in true crime drama

PUBLISHED: 13:48 17 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:23 18 March 2019

Norwich's living Charlie Chaplin statue, Ant Arnold, has had a cameo in a new BBC drama. Picture: Ant Arnold

Norwich's living Charlie Chaplin statue, Ant Arnold, has had a cameo in a new BBC drama. Picture: Ant Arnold

Archant

He is a Hollywood silent movie star whose living statue tours the streets of Norfolk.

Norwich's living Charlie Chaplin statue, Ant Arnold, has had a cameo in a new BBC drama. Picture: Ant ArnoldNorwich's living Charlie Chaplin statue, Ant Arnold, has had a cameo in a new BBC drama. Picture: Ant Arnold

Now the region’s very own Charlie Chaplin is making a small screen cameo in a true crime drama based on the so-called Grindr killer, Stephen Port.

Ant Arnold has been busking in Norwich since the 1980s in various guises, and was called up by producers of the Barking Murders, portraying the deeds of the rapist and serial killer.

Port received a life sentence with a whole life order on November 25, 2016.

He groomed his victims on online gay social networks and used date rape drugs on them before killing them.

Norwich's living Charlie Chaplin statue, Ant Arnold, has had a cameo in a new BBC drama. Picture: Ant ArnoldNorwich's living Charlie Chaplin statue, Ant Arnold, has had a cameo in a new BBC drama. Picture: Ant Arnold

The bodies of the four victims were found close to Port’s Barking flat but police failed to connect the dots at first.

“It was a bit of a Chaplinesque investigation and I think that is why I am there,” Mr Arnold, 51, said.

“I am just there in the opening scenes waving to one of the victims on the embankment.

“He is sitting minding his own business and I wave to him and he waves back before he gets picked up.”

Antony Arnold as Charlie Chaplin's Living Statue. Picture: SubmittedAntony Arnold as Charlie Chaplin's Living Statue. Picture: Submitted

He said the call-up “came as a total surprise” after producers rang him saying they had been looking for a Charlie Chaplin living statue for the series.

Mr Arnold had performed on Gentleman’s Walk since 1985. After being the victim of a road accident when he was 14 he received a serious head injury and has suffered from epilepsy.

It “completely ruined his schooling”, he said, and he left with qualifications in art and English.

He had danced since the age of five and decided to have a go at busking as a dancing robot.

Antony Arnold as Charlie Chaplin in Norwich.; photo by Adrian JuddAntony Arnold as Charlie Chaplin in Norwich.; photo by Adrian Judd

But that act came to an end after an incident on Gentleman’s Walk.

The last time he performed as the robot, he said a 16-year-old girl came and handcuffed herself to him.

“Her friend rang up her mum who came haring round the corner,” he said. They found the key and unchained the pair, but Mr Arnold stopped performing for seven years afterwards and threw away the robot suit.

Years later he was shocked to discover a therapist he was seeing was the mother of the girl who had chained herself to him.

“It was all those years ago and I had put it to the back of my mind,” he said. “Her poor daughter was mortified she was going to meet me again.”

The pair soon got married, and Gill accompanied Mr Arnold to the filming set at MediaCity in Salford.

After having six seizures on average every two weeks, Mr Arnold says he now controls them using mental techniques, CBD oil and Indian plant moringa.

“I am planning to go back out into Norwich in the Easter holidays, and certainly Great Yarmouth too,” he said. “I have got my own favourite cafe there and I am afraid the Puppet Man has followed me there now.

He added there was no animosity among buskers and “mostly we are all good mates.”

The Barking Murders will air on the BBC on a date to be confirmed.

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