Church leaders have blasted British pop star Robbie Williams for his part in a stomach-churning 'crucifixion' stunt aired on TV last night (16APR06). The Easter Sunday shocker showed the ANGELS hitmaker being pierced by 14 inch (35.5 centimetre) needles while strung up on a make-shift cross, mimicking Jesus Christ's execution. The controversial gimmick was the brainchild of British illusionist Derren Brown, who first hypnotised his celebrity victim. Williams, looking visibly shaken, later joked he liked the novel 'body art' and giggled, "I want to decorate myself like that. Perhaps Derren can come on tour and insert (the needles)." But Reverend IAN GREGORY, of the singer's hometown Stoke-on-Trent, slammed the trick as tasteless and insensitive. He added, "To trivialise the most important event in history is unforgivable." He was backed up by Lichfield Cathedral spokesman GAVIN DRAKE who said: "It was obviously an attempt to trivialise the cross." TV network Channel 4 has dismissed the furore, insisting it was a magic trick, not a religious slur.