Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Who is Neil Buchanan? British 'Art Attack' presenter forced to deny he is the elusive Banksy

The children's TV favourite has denied claims he is the graffiti artist, after a fan theory spread like wildfire

'Art Attack' presenter Neil Buchanan, pictured in 2017, has denied he is the street artist known as Banksy. Getty Images
'Art Attack' presenter Neil Buchanan, pictured in 2017, has denied he is the street artist known as Banksy. Getty Images

The closest we've ever come to glimpsing the evasive Banksy is when the British graffiti artist made a rare appearance in a video in July.

However, one rumour that's rapidly gained traction on social media claims that the evasive creative is none other than the favourite artist of UK children in the 1990s.

A conspiracy theory identified Neil Buchanan, the presenter of popular British show Art Attack, as the secretive Banksy, in a piece of hearsay that swept Twitter over the past week.

Who is Neil Buchanan?

The TV presenter and artist, 58, hosted Art Attack – a show he also helped to create – during its original run from 1990 to 2007.

The children's series featured Aintree-born Buchanan and other assorted characters, with the educational series focused on various art project suggestions and creations. The show was designed to get children crafting at home, sparking their imagination.

While best known for his work on Art Attack, the TV star also hosted Finders Keepers, a room-raiding game show that was broadcast during the '90s.

Buchanan has been largely out of the public eye in the past decade.

Why do people think he's Banksy?

The theory appears to have originated on Twitter, after user @ScouseMan_ claimed: “Just heard that it’s rumoured Neil Buchanan is Banksy."

"This is straight in the believe without question category," he added.

The Twitter user argued that Buchanan, like Banksy, is also a musician and “art has followed in cities of shows he’s done allegedly”.

His observation resulted in hundreds of commenters sharing their own takes on the rumour.

"I mean he did like to draw on walls," said one Twitter user, sharing an Art Attack screen grab.

"Interesting … Neil Buchanan was known for his big outdoor pieces utilising multimedia props and items to craft uncanny replicas," wrote another.

Even Game of Thrones actor John Bradley, who played Samwell Tarly in the fantasy series, gave his two cents.

"Neil Buchanan is not Banksy," he tweeted. Could Banksy use cardboard tubes from old toilet rolls and different coloured ping pong balls to make a trap so you could tell if anybody had been in your room while you’d been out?"

Is he Banksy?

While the real Banksy may indeed be forced to deny his identity should the truth come out, Buchanan has responded to the viral conspiracy theory, denying he's the anonymous street artist.

The presenter issued a denial on his website, stating he had "spent lockdown with vulnerable members of his family".

"We have been inundated with inquiries over the weekend regarding the current social media story," the statement read.

"Unfortunately this website does not have the infrastructure to answer all these inquiries individually, however, we can confirm that there is no truth in the rumour whatsoever."

So, who is Banksy?

Banksy might be one of the most famous names in the world of art yet you'd have no idea if you walked past him in the street.

He has managed to maintain anonymity despite years of making global headlines, but there are a few things we know about the artist.

We know that Banksy is from Bristol in the UK, indeed ruling out Buchanan.

In a 2006 (anonymous) interview with Swindle magazine, Banksy said: “I came from a relatively small city in southern England. When I was about 10 years old, a kid called 3D was painting the streets hard. I think he'd been to New York and was the first to bring spray-painting back to Bristol. I grew up seeing spray paint on the streets way before I ever saw it in a magazine or on a computer."

Banksy’s work has taken him to Paris, New York and Bethlehem, where he opened the Walled Off Hotel in 2017, which directly faces the eight-metre-high concrete wall built by Israel to separate the Palestinian territories.

See some of Banksy’s most famous works in the gallery below:

Updated: September 8, 2020 03:54 PM

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