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  • Writer's pictureSue Williamson

Landmark Centenary for David, our Troubled and Troubling Puppet!

David is a puppet, but don’t tell him that. In his own eyes, he is a magnificent figure of a man, with a wonderful shiny career, many illustrious girlfriends over the years, hundreds of Z list celebrity friends and a glittering array of talents. He boasts, he lies, he wheedles, he hectors – but above all, he is very, very funny. There have been 2 episodes of David@THS every week since the beginning of the pandemic and the first lockdown back in March, and this Monday we released the 100th episode, marked by a special bumper compilation; the perfect memento of David if you are a fan, and if you don't know what the fuss is about, here is your chance to catch-up, below!

When the first lockdown began back in March 2020, we knew we needed something out of the ordinary to maintain connectivity with everyone involved in Tang Hall SMART. I remember how bleak things seemed, and so very worrying, so that first Friday of the lockdown, I thought to myself that I would do a kind of round-up of the week to publish on Facebook and on our YouTube channels - just to let people know we were still there.

Anyone who has followed the history of David (or who saw the recent article about him in The Press) will know what happened next - how I watched it back, thought it sounded a bit glum and needed something to give it a lighter tone :David was sitting there in the studio fresh from his appearance in one of Neil's music videos (as D.Ni.L) and I asked Neil, if David would like to say a few words at the end of my spiel, which they were both up for, and David came out with this stroppy little voice, telling me ‘he would take it from there and that he didn’t need me’. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the months there have been some crazy storylines, with David planning his own version of Live Aid, his efforts to con money out of Neil to buy a house on York's sea-front (!) with the recent emergence of The Danger Man (a shadowy figure who apparently seeps through the floor boards in an attempt to infiltrate the systems at Tang Hall SMART, and probably my favourite episode (although it is hard to pick just one), where David contacted me on Zoom over the Christmas, to complain about Neil

I asked Neil to explain the format for the shows: “It’s simple really, David is like an extension of myself, so he gets to say ridiculous, nonsensical things and doesn't really have to answer to anyone. I sit down for 20 minutes, write a few pages off the top of my head; interactions between myself and David, then start filming. David does his part first and then I record my part and splice the two videos together so that we are having a conversation. David has changed over time and got increasingly egotistical and bizarre in his behaviour. He has a number of catchphrases, always opens up the episode with a rendition of a song and then I walk in. He insults me, belittles me and patronises me. There is another type of episode where I can control David and creep up on members of staff, which can be done in one take and are completely improvised. Sometimes he comes home with me to film an episode. David is a member of the team at Tang Hall SMART. I've taken phone calls and Zoom calls from our learners and participants, as David!”

Over recent months David has developed a second strand, as a singer with myself - and we perform covers of popular songs, over instrumental backgrounds recreated by Neil, with the aim of providing a fun video for people to sing along to. We started a Zoom-singalong version of this recently, and David gets a chance to interact with the other singers!

People seem to love him; it doesn’t matter how mean or spiteful he is, he is so small and cute that it makes you feel better just looking at him. We talk with him all the time, off camera as well as on camera, and he feels extremely real to us. He has his own distinct personality, and symbolises resilience, irrepressibility and the triumph of the imagination over reason and sense. He is sure to continue to amuse and entertain people for quite some time to come!

Sue Williamson - 17/2/21

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