CELEBRITY fitness trainer and martial arts coach Matt Fiddes is to make his acting debut in an all-action movie about the Battle of Hastings. The karate school entrepreneur a former bodyguard to pop star Michael Jackson has signed a three-movie deal w

CELEBRITY fitness trainer and martial arts coach Matt Fiddes is to make his acting debut in an all-action movie about the Battle of Hastings.The karate school entrepreneur - a former bodyguard to pop star Michael Jackson - has signed a three-movie deal with UK writer-director Robin Jacob. In the first, to be filmed in Wales next year, Barnstaple-based Matt plays a fearsome Viking warrior, King Hardrada's right-hand man.Described by the director as "a story full of intrigue, treachery, Papal conspiracy, murder, deceit and an abundance of rape and pillaging", the film 1066 charts events up to and including that most famous date in British history.Matt, 29, who will appear alongside Mark Lester, child star of Oliver Twist, and action film hero Gary Daniels, has already stepped up his personal training programme in readiness for a physically-draining film schedule.He is training four hours every day in his gym preparing for the role and is following a strict diet. "I'm very happy to have signed Matt up to 1066," said director Robin. "He's one of the UK's top martial artists and when looking for leading-role cast members, his name kept getting recommended."After meeting Matt I knew I had to cast him for one of the lead roles in the film. He has the dedication to stay in the great physical shape that this film will require. "A battle scene conducted in full armour, even fake armour, is likely to be pretty demanding and as he will be a main feature in two key battle scenes, he'll need to be in top form."Matt, personal trainer to celebrities such as Peter Andre and Danielle Lloyd, can't wait to get started. He said: "I will need to be literally fighting fit but fortunately there are plenty of teachers and senior students at my martial arts schools just itching to give me a workout!"I've got no illusions about life on a film set. Many of my friends are actors and the prospect of spending all day in freezing, wet conditions on some exposed hillside is anything but glamorous."But a film role is something I've always wanted and it was great to get the invitation. This is going to be a top-drawer production with some incredibly talented and creative people involved." It's a period of history Matt has always found fascinating."The battle changed the course of our history. It unquestionably shaped the country we know today," he said.Director Robin has spent four years putting together a heavyweight production team which includes Academy Award winning film-maker Christopher Carson and historical novelist Helen Hollick, best known as author of Harold The King. Helen has co-written the screenplay.The film follows the fortunes of Harold Godwinson - "chosen king of England" - as he tries to enforce his claim to the crown in the wake of Edward the Confessor's death.In September 1066, Harold vanquished an invading Norwegian Viking army led by his brother, Tostig Godwinson and Hardrada, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, near York.On hearing that William had landed near Hastings, Harold immediately hurried south, confronting the 8,400-strong Norman army at Senlac Hill on the morning of October 14.He was killed in the battle - supposedly when an arrow struck him in the eye - his army of some 7,500 men was routed and the rest, as they say, is history.www.northdevon.gov.uk