Neil Buchanan (born 11 October 1961, Liverpool, England) was one of the most infamous figures in British television. Born to a decorator father and a house wife mother Neil grew up in the city of Liverpool where he has lived all of his life. Neil has had a varied but often dramatic career, starting out life in a rock band and progressing to presenting kids tv programmes. He is most famous for presenting the CITV art show Art Attack from the late 80s until it's cancellation in 2006, following claims that it encouraged kids to mistreat the use of glue.
Neil had a challenged up bringing. Living in a one roomed bedsit, he would often have very little material to make useless, inanimate objects from pure junk. Often he'd resort to using raw sewage as a means for glue and used toilet paper for papier mache. Used blown up condoms were often used as the basis of a soon to be dinosaur piggybank. Aged 11, Neil was expelled from his school for accidentally tripping up and covering his teacher in glue which subsequently burnt the skin of the teacher's face, blinding him in the process. Unfortunately the art teacher never recovered and retired prematurely on disability benefits.
Whilst earning a living aged 18 doing a full time job of being a dole winner in Manchester (where else would he be on the dole?) he met his best friend named "Head". Head had a split personality and had a tendency to bob his head from side to side. Above this, Head was also an insane crack addict. Neils friendship with Head also led him to a fixation with custard creams & occasionally Fox's brand of Party Rings. Neil Buchannan began to re-ignite the hippie culture during the 80's period. During this time he had been arrested for dealing and possessing a variety of drugs including but not limited to: weed, cocaine, skunk, lsds, uppers, downers, inners, outers, poppers, zippers & willy wadge wodgers.
He even invented his own drug which he named the Lard Attack which was invented for instantaneously releasing all waste from the body instantly after consumption. Neil Buchannan made millions off this drug exploiting the weight loss industry with devastating impact.
Neil would however go on to invest his money into a music career in a band called Marseille. Playing lead guitar and occasional lead vocals as well as being chief song writer Neil and the band toured the UK and other parts of Europe throughout the late 70s and early 80s with little success. This was in no doubt down to the somewhat bizarre nature of musical output from the band.
Marseille's first album, "Sgt. Peppers Tony Harts Club Band" (a early hint of his fanatical obsession with art and his hero Tony Hart), was poorly received and did terribly commercially. Neil has since reflected on the album with much regret saying that:
"I suppose you're asking for it if you're writing songs about how to make a guitar out of cardboard boxes and PVA glue." He has since admitted that he was under the influence of Fox's Party Rings, while drinking lard from a frying pan when writing these songs.
They released their self titled follow up album a year later. Once again, it focused on art, but with rather more raunchy and risque lyrics. Perhaps the best song on the album, "I Know A Great Substitute to PVA Glue", reached 32 in the charts - their highest placed single ever.
However, a break up was inevitable as discipline spiralled out of control within the band. Lead singer Ricky Feckless was high on Pritt Sticks, whilst the rhythym guitarist Keith De La Fonte left to pursue a career in business knitting penis warmers. Meanwhile, drummer Bobby E Fudge became paranoid claiming Neil was about to 'do him in' believing that he was planning to papier mache him while asleep and use him as a pinata at his daughter's birthday party. The bass player Grant Starr (real surname 'B'Stard') had gone missing for 7 months without anyone realising. He was eventually discovered riding imaginary steam trains stark bollock naked at Lego Land shouting 'I'm the conductor of this line and I'm running out of magic coal dust! Send for Sir David Frost!'. He was put in a mental health rehab where he is still situated.
Neil commented at the time saying: "To be honest, I'm fed up with the whole fucking thing. My reputation has been on the line for the past two years and my 8 year old girlfriend has left me due to this pile of shit! I'm angry." After this outburst, he walked off and left his rock star lifestyle behind and approached a shining bright white light - presumably the Art Attack studio.
Marseille still retain a cult status amongst music followers. They did however experience a short burst of popularity in 2011 when their track "Waccy Baccy Plastic" was used in the closing montage of a controversial episode of the BBC's Masterchef in which presenter Greg Wallace experienced unscheduled bowel discharges in the kitchen of one of Raymond Blanc's restaurants in London.
This was where Neil really began to shine. Shrunk down to the size of a peanut and thrown into a pencil case, Neil appeared on CITV once a week presenting an art show which little kids could join along with at home. The much debated controversy about his drug usage (Neil frequently made references to PVA glue and in one episode bizarrely sniffed pencil shavings) didn't take the shine off his glorious run on this show and, til this day, he still presents it. The real talking point of the show however was his amazing big Art Attack’s. Neil use of various objects, materials and utensils werea all utilised in order to make a big piece of art that could be looked down on from a helicopter. His most famous big Art Attack to date is the production of the Great Wall of China which can be seen from space.
Despite the immense success of the show worldwide major troubles emerged in 1997. Neil and his fellow presenter The Head (a rubber bust which swung it's head from side to side while rounding up Neil's Art Attack makes) became embroiled in a drawn out legal wrangling over the use of the show's catchphrase "Try it yourself". The controversy started when The Head used the phrase to front a government campaign to encourage people to buy boneless fish at cut price deals. Originally thought to be Neil's own catchphrase The Head disputed this saying that it was he who had originally coined the phrase and that he was perfectly within his rights to use it. Neil proceeded to sensationally copyright the phrase so that no one else could display or even say the phrase in public. Understandably Head was disgusted and took the matter to court. Dubbed "the court case of the century" by many newspaper outlets Head passionately, while clearly upset, declared the phrase to be "his baby" and stunningly declared Neil a "hack c*nt", just one of many expletive ridden sentences in his testimony. Unsurprisingly Head was ruled to have acted in contempt of court and was subsequently removed from the hearing. Ultimately the judge declared Head's case to be void and therefore all rights for the phrase "Try it yourself" remained in Buchanan's hands. Distraught by his defeat in court The Head immediately left Art Attack and cut all ties with his ex fellow presenter. In 2004 Head was reprimanded by police and ordered to not stray within 50 meters of Buchanan and his family following a series of threatening letters that were sent to Buchanan's home in Liverpool.
Neil is cited as one of the co creators of children's tv comedy show ZZZap! which depicted a giant comic that came to life. The show was praised for it's ability to entertain the deaf as the show relied entirely on physical slapstick rather than spoken word. Neil played one of the comic characters, a French artist named Smarty Arty. Alongside this character were other regulars such as Daisy Dares and The Handymen. After a solid first few seasons the show began to lose focus as more extreme plotlines and characters were introduced which were clearly unsuitable for children. Daisy Dares was cut from the show following a sketch where she drove a car packed full of distressed clowns across a railroad crossing just moments before an oncoming train passed by. ITV finally ordered the cancellation of the series following the introduction of a new character - Cuthbert Lilly and his Big Willy.
Alongside presenting Art Attack, Neil hosted the UK version of the hit US tv show Finders Keepers in which children would raid and trash a studio house set in order to win prizes. The show was a popular hit for ITV and lasted for 4 years under Neil's tenure from 1992-1996. However, Finders Keepers was not without it's controversies. In the last show before it's cancellation a contestant was rushed immediately to hospital due to an overdose of paracetmals in the bathroom, thinking they were prize sweeties. Horrifically, another child was severely injured moments later, this time falling through plastic stair banisters and onto the studio floor. Neil got himself into hot water after being seen laughing at the whole incident while paramedics attended the scene. He has never apologised for the incident and further reinforced his feelings when commenting in an interview that "Actually the children's injuries were very funny. Yes the parents were unhappy and successfully got ITV to pay a million pounds in compensation but the show received record viewing figures and at the end of the day that's all we're asking for isn't it?" With the cancellation of Finders Keepers Neil moved onto another albeit far less successful project, fronting a kids friendly supernatural investigative show called "It's a Mystery". The show did very poorly becoming a commercial and critical flop. Neil, knowing how big a failure the show was, was censored by ITV for telling viewers in a live edition to change channels to rivals CBBC in order to "release me from the noose that is this god awful spectacle". The failure of the show led Neil into a prolonged period of depression.
Depression and breakdown
Following the failure of It's a Mystery Neil's life took an extreme turn for the worst. Due to the side effects of depression, Neil became an extreme addict in consuming custard creams. He was often seen going into Sainsbury's and coming out with a full trolly packed with the biscuits. He recently admitted in a tearful interview on Piers Morgans's Life Stories that he ate 14 packets of custard creams while watching Changing Rooms one night. He commented saying he puked them all up on the living room carpet. Below are snippets from that infamous interview.
- Jesus Christ, just talking about it makes me ill. I was puking so much I couldn't breath. It was LITERALLY a sea of mashed up custard creams... the wife wasn't happy.
- This was a severe addiction, and I mean SEVERE! Do you know what I did next. I ACTUALLY licked up all the custard creams again! After that, I went stone cold and my wife claims I just lay there in one big fat mess and swimming in my own stew. I lay there... groaning.
- When the stores were out of stock, it was still easy to obtain the gear. Drug dealers saw my problem and leaped upon this new 'niche in the market' so to speak. I paid £95 for just three packets with a polythene bag of broken ones thrown in for free I was that desperate. I believe the deal took place on the corner of a street somewhere in the Huyton area of Liverpool... yes, it definitely was as I was photographed by papparazzi. I ran back to my car and scoffed the whole load in 2 minutes, choking as I struggled to pack it all in my mouth frantically. Naturally, with the broken biscuits, I snorted that.
- I was loaded out of my fuckin head on it. Crumbs would pour from every orifice in my body.
- During my time in rehab, I would wake up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat over terrifying nightmares I was having. I kept having a recurring theme where I was being chased by a giant custard cream. I would try to run away but I would become too tired and would give in and would indulge myself on this massive custard cream. Once I gave in, it boomed 'Yes Neil, that's right - eat me up, devour me, LOVE ME!' Then the nightmare would end with me chucking it all back up - my vomit would lie there on the ground and would then speak to me, something like 'Ho ho, your pathetic. Look at you - you're somebody's father! God help them! Ho ho ho'... traumatising stuff...
Neil was arrested for once performing a massive Art Attack whilst under the influence of alcohol. Having no PVA glue available to him in a pub somewhere in Soho Square he proceeded to use his sperm as an adhering device to attach two cereal boxes together. Neil was thrown in the slammer for a week – during which time he had no access to food or drink; so naturally he devoured his own feaces and now has a lifetime ban on small pipe cleaners.
Like Buddism but with a box of felt tips instead of a conch shell, Buchananism is the practise of worshipping Neil as our Lord and Master of the world. There are roughly 2.2 billion people around the globe currently practising Buchananism, some without even knowing it.
It is known that the whole religion started in 1991 just before Neil made his TV debut on Finders Keepers which, incidentally, was the foundation for the religion. The show featured many young children raiding rooms in a house with one wall missing. They looked for a note, which would usually be a riddle of some sort with an enlightening hidden message in it. They would then go to another room and do the same. Buchananists performed this 5 times a day until everyone realised they couldn’t afford to pay for the damages. The religion took a dip but when Neil had the notion of making more productive use out of his religious practises he devised Art Attack. Many young children followed Neil’s ideas. Everyday they see Neil on television they would sit down and copy his artwork, step by step, in the hope of gaining some sense of self-satisfaction and enlightenment.