David Beckham Netflix Doc “Doctored Truth To Spin Narrative”, Say Fact-Checkers

The latest phenomenon of sporting stars granting intimate access to documentary makers in exchange for positive coverage – The Last Dance and Drive to Survive on Netflix, Welcome to Wrexham on Prime Video – has found plenty of fans on the streaming platforms, but others are raising their eyebrows at what they claim is a cynically manipulated narrative to make the star look only good.

The UK’s Sunday Times has focused its investigative lens on the recent four-hour Netflix documentary series Beckham, recounting the rollercoaster career of footballing superstar David Beckham, and found six examples of what it claims is a case of re-writing history to make sure Beckham’s halo remains intact.

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They include:

World Cup match 1998 – In the doc, after Beckham is given a red card and sent off the pitch for fouling an Argentine player, the story goes that he suffered hostility even from his own Man Utd supporters until he redeemed himself at the end of the following season. In fact, the Sunday Times reports, Beckham stayed in favour at his home ground from the moment he set foot back there.

World Cup qualifier 2001 – in the doc, it appears as though Beckham is fouled on the pitch, seconds before scoring a dramatic goal from the resulting free kick and rescuing England’s hopes of going through. In fact, it was Beckham’s castmate Teddy Sheringham who was fouled, setting up the free kick for Beckham to deliver.

Madrid 2004 – In the doc examining the fall-out from tabloid headlines claiming an affair between Beckham and his PA Rebecca Loos (the footballer was married to Victoria Beckham then, as now), a Daily Mirror front page appears to start with the words, “The England captain dismissed the allegations as ludicrous.” In fact, the real newspaper started with, “My sister DID have an affair with Becks.”

These examples support the argument that such documentaries are nothing more than sanitised PR exercises for the celebrities involved, who invariably also appear in the credits as ‘executive producer.’

Whatever, it doesn’t appear to be stopping fans flocking. Beckham’s documentary series has already drawn a record 3.4million subscribers in the UK, no bad thing for Netflix as it oversees a price hike of £1 for its subscribers in the same region.

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