Banksy appears to reveal real name in old Radio 4 interview

A 2003 clip has been resurfaced by The Banksy Story; the BBC says it’s one of the artist’s “earliest known radio interviews”.

Date
24 November 2023

BBC Sounds won’t give up the ghost on Banksy’s identity. Its ten-part podcast The Banksy Story has unveiled an early interview where the artist seems to share his full name.

The interview was for Radio 4’s PM programme and took place as Banksy’s 2003 show Turf War was being installed in London. BBC arts correspondent Nigel Wrench asks Banksy if he’s happy for him to use his name. “Is it Robert Banks?” Banksy replies: “It’s Robbie.”

Banksy’s identity has been the subject of such speculation over the years that there is now a whole entourage of possible Banksys. He was “unmasked as a former public schoolboy from middle-class suburbia” in 2008 by the Daily Mail. The newspaper’s investigation began with a supposed picture of the artist taken in Jamaica and ended with the claim being denied by Banksy. The artist has also been tied to Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja and Gorillaz creator Jamie Hewlett. To prove the latter, a forensic artist once trawled through publicly available registered company information before going to the Metro.

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Alan Denney: Banksy, Turf War (Copyright © Alan Denney, 2003)

Earlier this year, The Banksy Story broadcasted another lost clip featuring Banky’s voice and “Bristolian twang”. This longer piece of audio, which features in an episode of the podcast released on 21 November, also includes some of the artist’s early thoughts on vandalism, street art, ownership and impact.

“I just think it’s my right to go out and paint it. And it is equally somebody else’s right to go out and paint over it if they don’t like it, you know? It doesn’t actually take very long with a bucket of white paint to paint over things. I think it’s better if you treat the city like a big playground, you know?... It’s there to mess about in, you know?”

There was also some interesting musings on the speed with which Banksy works, too. “My mother used to cook Sunday roast every Sunday and say, ‘It takes hours to make it and minutes to eat.’ And these days, she eats microwave meals for one and seems a lot happier. I’m kind of taking that approach to art really. I want to get it done and dusted.”

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Alan Denney: Banksy, Turf War (Copyright © Alan Denney, 2003)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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