Director Owen Phillips is so enthralled by the absurdities of Knight's case that he has modelled his show on artsy crime movies by the Coen Brothers such as Fargo

The Man Who Came Back From The Dead (Channel 4)

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Just suppose for a moment that Arthur Knight is telling the truth. He isn’t a fugitive and convicted sex offender from the U.S. suspected of faking his own death.

He’s simply who he claims to be, a happily married man and National Trust enthusiast living in Edinburgh, who grew up in care in Dublin. The fact that his fingerprints, DNA and tattoos match those of Nicholas Rossi, alias Nicholas Alahverdian (and at least three other names), is a coincidence, or a frame-up.

That’s scarcely more ludicrous than the real story, presented on Imposter: The Man Who Came Back From The Dead, a four-part documentary continuing tonight.

Director Owen Phillips is so enthralled by the absurdities of Knight’s case that he has modelled his show on artsy crime movies by the Coen Brothers such as Fargo — with gigantic onscreen captions to identify his interviewees, a twangy guitar score and plentiful shots of the wide open American landscape.

Director Owen Phillips is so enthralled by the absurdities of Knight's case that he has modelled his show on artsy crime movies by the Coen Brothers such as Fargo

Director Owen Phillips is so enthralled by the absurdities of Knight’s case that he has modelled his show on artsy crime movies by the Coen Brothers such as Fargo

His breathing mask makes it difficult to understand what he's saying, but his devoted wife, Miranda, (pictured) is always on hand to translate

His breathing mask makes it difficult to understand what he’s saying, but his devoted wife, Miranda, (pictured) is always on hand to translate

Mind you, if this were a real Coen Brothers production, Knight really would be an innocent victim . . . one who just happened to indulge in quirks like turning up to court in a dressing gown and slippers, wheeling an oxygen tank behind him.

His breathing mask makes it difficult to understand what he’s saying, but his devoted wife, Miranda, is always on hand to translate. Appearing by satellite link on a U.S. talk show, he rolled his eyes and mumbled something into his respirator.

‘What Arthur is saying,’ explained the faithful Miranda, like a cartoon villain’s minion, ‘is that this is all a storm in a teacup — when Arthur is a hurricane.’

The U.S. authorities began extradition proceedings after Knight was arrested in the Covid ward of a Glasgow hospital, where he had been in a coma. Almost immediately, he and Miranda were co-operating with the film-makers, but he isn’t the only attention seeker in this story.

Director Owen Phillips is so enthralled by the absurdities of Knight's case that he has modelled his show on artsy crime movies by the Coen Brothers (pictured) such as Fargo

Director Owen Phillips is so enthralled by the absurdities of Knight’s case that he has modelled his show on artsy crime movies by the Coen Brothers (pictured) such as Fargo

A New Jersey politician with a Sopranos accent keeps popping up to tell us how completely the boy bamboozled him. A lawyer described his amazement at realising Rossi — who was believed at the time to be dead, from cancer — was still rewriting his own Wikipedia entry (which, incidentally, tells you everything you need to know about how reliable Wikipedia is).

A publican who once served pints to Knight at an Edinburgh bar even declared, ‘Of all the bars in all the world, he had to walk into mine.’ Everybody in this documentary, it appears, thinks they’re in a movie . . . and they’re all stars.

Entertaining though this is, it minimises the seriousness of Rossi’s crimes. One woman described how, as a student, he inflicted a serious sexual assault on her in a college corridor, minutes after they met. Another woman who naively invited him into her home was raped, she said.

Rossi’s grandiose, eccentric persona is an act, a disguise to make himself seem harmless. We shouldn’t be fooled.

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