Neil Buchanan: The Art of War

I once had a picture of mine featured on Art Attack and Neil said that he ‘liked my technique’. It was a charcoal sketch of a Spitfire that I did for the 52nd anniversary of the Battle of Britain, during my period of obsession with World War Two. As I’ve mentioned on this blog I have always liked Art Attack and Neil Buchanan. It was compulsive viewing for much of my youth.

I met Neil about five years ago in Lakeside. He was Christmas shopping with Herol Graham and Richie Woodall (both former boxing champions). I didn’t actually recognise him and initially approached the two boxers to say I had been fans of theirs. I asked Neil, who at the time I thought was a non-famous friend, to take the picture and Richie joked about him making it arty. It was only then that the penny dropped. I asked him and the guys if they wanted to play a game of Finders Keepers (an old show that Neil used to present). I said I would hide something in the men’s section of H&M and would give him and Herol the chance to rummage about for it. Neil thought it would be hilarious, but Herol said something like ‘I’m a big black man, who last boxed ten years ago, and wasn’t even that famous then, and you want me to go throwing jumpers about? Are you mad? They’ll lock me up, man!!’ We had a good laugh about that. Anyway, when Celebriteasing got going, Neil was always on my list.

He was actually a bit difficult to track down. His focus has turned away from TV and for the last few years he has been concentrating on working with his band, Marseille. Apparently he was kind of famous before Art Attack as an 80s rocker and wanted to relive those glory days. For some reason I couldn’t find an agent for him. Then I discovered a small site on which he showcases his art work and after a couple of emails I was asked by a representative to send through my show idea.

Dear Sarah,

The show I have in mind for Neil to present is called “The Art of War”. Part history, part art history and part art, each episode will focus on a particular war or battle with Neil discussing and exploring some of the associated art that came out from each conflict. I guess a classic example would be Picasso’s Guernica painting and the Spanish Civil War, but we have a wide range of historical battles we want to examine, some with less prominent work associated with them. The conclusion of each show would see Neil unveiling some of his own work, based on his feelings and understanding of the particular war of each episode. Ideally we would also like him to construct some of the giant art pieces he is so well known for, using either materials from shelled buildings and munitions (more modern conflicts) or museum pieces/replica uniforms or weaponry (older wars). We would be looking to get moving on this in the early quarter of 2014. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sometimes I think it’s evident that I am taking the piss. A show built around Brian Belo learning to play golf or Peter Andre getting to grips with the bag pipes pushes the limits of believability. But this show, this show is legit. I would genuinely watch it if it was ever made.

His representative actually seemed pretty keen but I hit a brick wall when he insisted we speak on the phone before he met up with Neil and pitched the idea to him. You see, I know nothing about the TV industry or how these shows are actually put together. If I’m asked a question by email I can sometimes research it and blag a response, but on the phone I would be exposed massively. Also there is the issue of translating it to here and making that work. I told him I couldn’t get on the phone as my hearing had been damaged during a diving accident, but he never replied.

I won’t waste Neil’s time by bothering him anymore. The man is a legend of 90s TV and deserves to see out the end of his career in a quiet and respectable way. Regardless, I had realised at this point that it was time to launch my most ambitious tease to date and I set about putting this into action.


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