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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 11:45 GMT
Jackson interview seen by 14m
Martin Bashir and Michael Jackson
Martin Bashir spent eight months with Jackson
More than 14 million viewers watched Monday's UK TV documentary in which Michael Jackson admitted he shared his bedroom with young children.

The ITV1 programme attracted 14.1 million viewers according to unofficial overnight figures, one of the highest ever figures for a TV documentary and taking 53.9% of viewers.

Towards the end of the 110-minute programme - as Jackson was seen discussing his relationships with children - over 60% of UK TV viewers were watching.

It was made by Martin Bashir, whose BBC interview with Diana, Princess of Wales in 1995 attracted an audience of 22.8 million.

During the programme it emerged that children still slept overnight at Jackson's house, despite allegations of abuse - which the singer has always denied - made in 1993.

Jackson said he sometimes slept on the floor while giving the children his bed, which he said was a "beautiful thing", "charming" and "sweet".

Charities condemn Jackson
We feel it is totally inappropriate for an adult man to share a bed or bedroom with a child that is not his own

Barnado's executive

"Why can't you share your bed? That's the most loving thing to do, to share your bed with someone," he said.

Difficult questions

Close friend Uri Geller, who helped set up the programme, defended Jackson's reputation following the documentary's broadcast.

The celebrity psychic told BBC News 24: "Michael could have not had those children there when Martin Bashir brought the cameras but Michael is honest and very, very innocent.

"He says he sees God in the faces of children. He is inspired by them. His music, he claims, comes from them.

"Michael has done absolutely nothing wrong to children in the past or present."

Geller - a father-of-two - added he found nothing sinister in Jackson's actions.

Innocent

In the programme, made by Granada TV, Jackson introduced Bashir to a 12-year-old named Gavin, who he befriended as the youngster fought cancer.

The boy said he battled his illness with the help of Jackson and maintained his parents were happy with their friendship.

Michael Jackson
They were chanting they wanted to see my child, so I was kind enough to let them see

Michael Jackson on the 'baby dangling' incident
Jackson insisted his feelings for children was entirely innocent and had nothing to do with sex.

"My greatest inspiration comes from kids... it's all inspired from that level of innocence. I just love being around that all the time," he said.

Bashir had "unprecedented" access to Jackson for the documentary, Living With Michael Jackson.

He followed the singer for eight months, interviewing him several times and spending time at his Californian ranch, Neverland, which includes a zoo and a full-scale fairground.

Jackson was also filmed spending $6m (3.6m) on a shopping excursion during a stay in Las Vegas.

'Fat nose'

The singer grew emotional as he described his hard-working childhood - singing with his brothers in the Jackson Five group - and his "hated" violent father, who taunted him about his "fat nose".

It's not sexual, we're going to sleep - I tuck them in and I put a little music on and when it's story time I read a book

Michael Jackson
But when Bashir asked him about reports of multiple plastic surgery, he denied having more than two operations on his face, saying only: "Oh God, oh please... it's stupid, none of it's true."

Jackson said he was giving his own children - Prince and Paris, aged five and four, and baby Prince Michael II - as "normal" a childhood as possible, even though they never saw their mothers.

He blamed the ever-present paparazzi for the fact that his children were always masked in public.

Jackson said his third child had been born to a woman he had never met, saying he had not cared who she was so long as she was healthy.

Martin Bashir
Bashir is best known for his 1995 interview with Princess Diana

Prince and Paris' mother is Debbie Rowe, Jackson's former dermatology nurse who he married in 1997.

Jackson said she had handed over the two children to him as "gift" and that she was not involved in bringing them up.

Bashir was present during the infamous "baby dangling" incident in Germany recently when Jackson held his baby son over a balcony to show waiting fans beneath.

Adoption plans

Jackson denied that had been wrong, saying any criticism was "ignorant" - a word he also used to describe media criticism of any other aspects of his life.

"We were waiting for thousands of fans down below, and they were chanting they wanted to see my child, so I was kind enough to let them see. I was doing something out of innocence.

"I love my children, I was holding my son right and strong... I wasn't going to let him fall," he said.

He said he wanted more children and was considering adopting two from each continent.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Living with Michael Jackson:
Extracts from Martin Bashir's documentary
Uri Geller, Jackson's friend
"Michael is a pure and innocent person"

Send your views on ITV1's interview with Michael Jackson in a Tonight specialJackson speaks
Your views on ITV1's Living with Michael Jackson
See also:

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21 Nov 02 | Entertainment
20 Nov 02 | Entertainment
19 Nov 02 | Entertainment
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