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Duration: 1 hour

A compelling drama documentary about one of the world's prolific and most diverse art forgers. The Greenhalgh family lived by modest means on a council estate in Bolton but, tucked away in the garden shed, Shaun Greenhalgh was creating fake paintings, antiques and sculptures that would dupe the art world out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. He was aided by his octogenarian parents, George and Olive (played by Peter Vaughan and Liz Smith), who concocted elaborate back stories for each forgery. Their trump card came with a fake Egyptian statue, supposedly passed down from George's grandfather, which they sold to Bolton Museum for nearly half a million pounds. Despite the windfall the family continued to live a frugal lifestyle, revelling instead in the satisfaction derived at deceiving the art experts.

Emboldened by their success, the family couldn't resist another audacious attempt - to pass off a fake Assyrian relief to the British Museum, a costly mistake that ultimately led the police to their door. But the real victim of the story is the son, Shaun Greenhalgh, touchingly portrayed by Jeremy Swift. Here was a man still living at home in his forties, who in a different family, in different circumstances could have been heralded as an artistic genius, but who instead languishes in prison on a four-and-a-half year stretch.

Last on

Tue 30 Mar 2010 22:30 BBC Four

  • Photo: Shaun Greenhalgh

    Photo: Shaun Greenhalgh

    Shaun Greenhalgh (played by Jeremy Swift) in the shed that served as his workshop, packed out with the tools and materials that allowed him to produce his many and varied art forgeries.

  • Photo: Olive and George Greenhalgh

    Photo: Olive and George Greenhalgh

    Shaun's elderly parents (portrayed by Liz Smith and Peter Vaughan) played their own part in the Greenhalgh family's forgery business by approaching clients to sell the artworks. At Shaun's 2007 trial, it was said that Olive made many of the phone calls as her son was shy and didn't like to use the telephone.

Credits

Shaun Greenhalgh
Jeremy Swift
George Greenhalgh
Peter Vaughan
Olive Greenhalgh
Liz Smith
Director
Norman Hull
Writer
Norman Hull

Broadcasts

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