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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 12:19 GMT
Valley G's wicked Welsh rootz
Ali G at Downing Street
Cohen has won friends in some high places lately
Ali G fans have discovered that the land of our fathers is responsible for giving the UK its most streetwise brother.

Comic Sacha Baron Cohen has taken his star turn from the urban jungle to the big screen with a new movie premièred last week.

But the outrageous wide boy's father and grandfather are both Welsh and his mother still owns a department store in Cardiff.


The first thing I would do is get rid of Wales - I would swap it for Jamaica

Ali G big-ups his manifesto for Britain

Even the Welsh Assembly has expressed delight at Ali's re-discovered heritage.

At the prestigious launch of Ali G Indahouse on 21 March, the rough-talking homeboy told journalists his manifesto for a "well wicked" Britain.

"The first thing I would do is get rid of Wales," he said. "I would swap it for Jamaica."

Fashion victims

In fact, Sacha's grandfather Morris was born in 1900 at Pontypridd in the south Wales Valleys, the home town of legendary singer Tom Jones.

Cohen's father Gerald moved to London in the 60s before the comedy world's biggest new star was born in 1970, but has gone back to visit relatives in Wales, a source close to the family said.

And Sacha's Israeli-born mother Daniella owns gentleman's outfitters Calders in the shadow of Cardiff Castle.

The formal, tailored classic suits are a world away from Ali's trademark bright yellow shell suits, skullcap and wraparound shades.

Rhondda
There is still a welcome in the Rhondda hillsides for Ali

It is enough to make any homeboy ask: "Is it 'cos I is Welsh?"

The family also runs a glut of other businesses, including accountancies and computer firms listed in Cardiff.

A spokesman for the store said: "The Baron Cohens have owned the shop for many, many years.

"They're very nice people and we are pleased for Sacha's success."

Mickey-take visits

The revelation will surprise many fans who saw Ali G visit Wales during an episode of Channel 4's former 11 O'clock Show, which helped launch the comic.

Taken on a tour of Blaenavon's Big Pit underground industrial heritage museum, the n'er do well jungalist told his guide...

Ali G
Ali G first found fame with a Channel 4 slot
"Check dis. I is now in a coal mine, which is where the Wales people used to live, underground. Millions of years ago, miners lived under here before they became human beings."

In that episode, G attempted to learn the Welsh language to hilarious effect.

He also quizzed Ron Davies MP on devolution and laughed with former Plaid Cymru Chief Executive Karl Davies in trademark spoof interviews.

In February, however, he sparked an outburst and forced an apology from BBC Radio 1 after a profanity-ridden interview with breakfast presenter Sara Cox.

A single recorded by the comic with Shaggy had to be censored to get airplay on the channel.

In Ali G's movie, on release since 22 March, the streetwise star becomes MP for his native London suburb of Staines.

But a group of black magazine readers recently took offence to his portrayal of a self-styled street kid and branded Cohen "racist."

The comedian is currently in talks to take a version of his TV show Stateside.

See also:

18 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Radio 1 apologises for Ali G outburst
20 Mar 02 | Reviews
Ali G keeps it real
18 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Hamilton 'shared joint' with Ali G
16 May 01 | TV and Radio
Ali G takes home spare Bafta
01 May 01 | Business
Big Brother, Ali G boost C4 revenue
15 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Complaints over Ali G catchphrase
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