Few know the true identity of elusive street artist Banksy, who has managed to remain anonymous – spare for a few rumours – since his work emerged in the 1990s. Now, it turns out, Louis Theroux is one of these lucky few.
In an appearance on footballer Peter Crouch’s podcast, That Peter Crouch Podcast, the documentarian describes an encounter he had with Banksy at a football match in 2001. Theroux was at a Queens Park Rangers game in London when he came across the pre-fame street artist.
“This is the random part of this,” he said. “One of the other people in the box was a young artist. He was a little bit sheepish, he wasn’t terribly outgoing, and I said, ‘What do you do?’ He said, ‘I’m a street artist’, and he gave me a little booklet of his art, and I looked at it and it looked quite good, and I kind of made awkward chit-chat, and I said, ‘Oh, what’s your name?’ and he said, ‘Banksy’.”
Theroux continued: “Fast-forward a year, and people kept going, ‘Have you heard of this bloke Banksy? No one knows who he is’, and I said, ‘Banksy? Yeah, I know who he is – we went to a QPR game together!’”
“I couldn’t really remember anything about the encounter,” the filmmaker concluded, “but just the fact of having met Banksy at this random thing has stood me in good stead the last 20 years. I’m one of the only people to have met Banksy – and we bonded over Peter Crouch!”
Theroux has recently launched his own podcast, called Grounded With Louis Theroux. In a recent interview with Dazed, the documentarian reveals that he managed to get guests on the podcast who previously turned him down for his series, When Louis Met…, 20 years ago, including Lenny Henry and Boy George. “I’m more of a tour guide in these ones,” he said, “as opposed to a therapist inquisitor.”