The Return of Art Attack

This is an art attack. This is an art attack. This is – not quite what I remember…

Four years have passed since the minds of the nation’s children were stimulated in any meaningful or creative way. Since then the imaginations of our children have been allowed to shrivel into a shallow grey paste of vacancy. Their collective creative skills allowed to wilt into little more than a limp attempt at self-expression. Something had to be done. Not only to preserve the sales of PVA glue. But to preserve the humanity of the next generation.

Thankfully our plight has been answered.

After a four year hiatus, the nation’s favourite art-based TV show is back, and there have been some changes. The first notable change is that the show is now being produced by and aired on the Disney Junior channel, after being cancelled by ITV in 2007. This information is inconsequential to children. But the next change is not.

The most significant and immediately apparent alteration to the show is that Neil Buchanan is nowhere to be seen. Rumours of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Fortunately Neil’s not dead. Unfortunately, he no longer presents Art Attack.

Neil is a legend of television. I feel comfortable addressing him by his first name because I feel like we’re friends. He’s talked me through a thousand procedures. Together we’ve created Creepy Hands, constructed 3D Fantasy Castles and sculpted Aztec Soap Carvings. And unlike my parents, Neil didn’t hit me when I got paint on my school clothes.

Back when I regularly watched children’s TV, presenters were similar in age to our parents. They acted as paternal/maternal supervisors of our playtime. They were older, wiser and more respectable than the rapscallion sat watching them, which is why I did what I was told. But as attitudes and conventions have altered, presenters have got steadily younger. Now, kid’s TV presenters are barely older than their primary audience.

Sadly I can no longer offer forth the opinions of an 8 year old boy. But if I could, I would question why the presenter is telling me to be careful with scissors, telling me to ask for the help of a grown-up. We’re the same age. You worry about yourself and I’ll take care of me.

If the repeated renewal of presenters continues at this pace by 2020 Art Attack will be presented by a foetus, and Blue Peter by a sperm and egg duo.

The new face of Art Attack – Jassa Ahluwalia is young and fresh. So fresh in fact, that there are probably more bristles on his brush than there are on his balls.

I should have hated Jassa. Not for any valid reasons. But simply because he isn’t Neil Buchanan, and that’s the way we often respond to news that a classic film is being remade, that a TV show is being re-booted, or that a presenter has been replaced. We instantly assume inadequacy because we can’t abide the loss of a loved one.

Yes he probably still wets the bed. Yes he smiles far more than anyone in this country is morally obliged to. Yes he addresses me as if my brain is a papier-mâché misconception, but I’m not the core demographic am I?

But so what if I’m 20? I might enjoy gratuitous violence, strong language and scenes of a sexual nature, but dammit, I like arts and crafts too. Where’s Adult Art Attack? Where are the Big Art Attacks constructed of cider cans, doner kebabs and STIs?

Despite Jassa’s misgivings, his continuation of Neil Buchanan’s laid back presenting style means he’s not completely insufferable. Overzealous people are not my type of people. I don’t trust their enthusiasm, their energy. But Art Attack, by its very nature cannot support crazed presenters galloping around the set like horses in heat. It’s about the art people, the art.

Aside from the loss of Neil Buchanan, another core character has also been replaced. Those of you who remember the show know of whom I speak. That’s right, The Head is gone.

The Head provided recaps of Neil’s creations, and his attempts at completing them would always dramatically fail. Leading to some amusing failures which often resembled my own attempts.

Thankfully The Head has been replaced by a creation even more ridiculous. His name: Vincent van Coconut. I shit you not.

Vincent is a palm tree that provides a similar service to that of The Head, recapping Jassa’s steps while adding his own delightfully awful puns.

Despite the numerous personnel changes, mercifully the format of the show remains the same. Jassa guides us through three different creations, each separated by bumpers like Mini-Makes or Quick Art Attacks. You’ll need all the classic tools of the trade – card, crayons, paper, pencils, felt-tip pens, split pins, poster paint, sticky-back plastic, PVA glue and glitter.

Then there’s the tour de force, the crème de la crème, the generic French expression that is; the Big Art Attack.

In days of old, Neil Buchanan would demonstrate his genius by producing art on an enormous scale by arranging objects to create images. These were clearly not pre-determined, but were completely improvised, such is the magnificence of Neil.

In the new show, Jassa displays his artistic ineptitude by throwing us over to Alex the Big Artist who then creates the artwork from wherever he happens to be lurking.

Big Art Attacks have always been the highlight of the show. Producing my own Big Art Attack was, and if I’m honest, still is an ambition of mine. All I managed as a kid was laying my clothes out flat on the floor, creating what would best be described as a homicide scene in which the victim was vaporised.

Despite being initially amused by Art Attack 2011, I actually enjoyed the show. It seems that this new iteration is aimed at a slightly younger audience than the show I grew up watching. But it’s no less entertaining. It feels familiar enough to coax nostalgia from cynical, fun-sucking deatheaters like myself, and yet fresh and colourful enough to ensure that in 20 years time, young children will remember this show as fondly as I remember the 90s version.

With or without Neil Buchanan and The Head it’s still a show that should be adored by kids across the country. Being aired on Disney Junior and not a terrestrial channel like ITV may mean it’s seen by less children, which is a shame. But if you have the Disney Channel, I urge you to watch it. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You’re only as old as you feel, and Art Attack will make you feel like a child again.

That’s a strangely positive ending to an article on Anti-Bandwagon Propaganda. Blame Jassa. Smiley bastard.



5 thoughts on “The Return of Art Attack

    • I was going to include a brief mention of Marseille in the article but couldn’t conjure a way to fit it in. It sounds like you’ve heard them, are they any good? I did tweet Neil Buchanan [assuming it’s a legitimate account] with a link to this piece asking for a re-tweet. I like to think we’ll become good friends.


  1. Neil Buchannan First appeared on No 73 when he was 23
    Phillip Schofield Started in the Broom cupboard when he was 23
    Andy Crane Started in the broom cupboard when he was 23
    Andi Peters started on Chidrens tele when he was 18
    Ant & Dec were presenting Kids TV when theu were 19

    Kids TV presenters have always been around 20 when starting off

  2. Pingback: I grow up with Neil Buchanan but I can’t draw « Weird Fob

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