As It Happens

Lord Buckethead who took on Theresa May hangs up his helmet

The man who assumed the identity of an intergalactic space lord to challenge British Prime Minister Theresa May in the 2017 election has put away his cape and helmet.

Comedian Jon Harvey retires from the character inspired by a 1984 Star Wars parody

Lord Buckethead and Theresa May went head-to-(bucket)head in the constituency of Maidenhead. (Lord Buckethead/Twitter)
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Transcript

The man who assumed the identity of an intergalactic space lord to challenge British Prime Minister Theresa May in the 2017 election has put away his cape and helmet.

In June 2017, As It Happens host Carol Off interviewed Lord Buckethead — whose name and appearance was inspired by the 1984 Star Wars parody Gremloids — after he appeared in a viral photo alongside May and other candidates in her constituency. 

During that interview, Buckethead kept his true identity a secret, following in the tradition of the previous Lord Bucketheads who ran against prime ministers Margaret Thatcher in 1987 and John Major in 1992.

Comedian Jon Harvey has since revealed to the Guardian that he was the man in the helmet, and that he's since retired from playing the space villain after conversations with Gremloids writer and director Todd Durham, who decided to take editorial control of the character.

Durham did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Harvey spoke to Off again on Monday — this time as himself. Here is part of their conversation. 

When I spoke to you last time, I asked you if I could call you Lord Buckethead. I understand I can no longer ask you if I may call you Lord Buckethead.

I think it's safe to say that I am not the Lord Buckethead. But I was. I'm the guy who took on Theresa May in the 2017 election and lost narrowly by 31,469 votes.

You had 249 votes to your name, right?

Yes, which doesn't sound like a lot, but I was worried it would be zero. And it was a Buckethead record. The other guys who stood in the past only mustered about 100 each. 

Now, of course, it was worth it, wasn't it, just to have that photograph [with May].

That was the only reason for doing it.

I'd just assumed that that's all that would happen is I'd have that photo. No one would notice me and then it would vanish into insignificance and that would be the end of it. 

I think the fact that it happened in the internet age is what made it go viral. 

Comedian Jon Harvey has retired from the Lord Buckethead character. (Submitted by Jon Harvey)

This was [from] a film called Gremloids, right? A kind of budget Darth Vader character named Lord Buckethead, and that's who you were playing.

The film was called Gremloids in the U.K. I think in America it was called Hyperspace.

After I watched the film ... I read the trivia online, and it said: "Did you know that someone had dressed up as this character and taken on Margaret Thatcher in the 1987 general election?"

I was like, "What?"

Then it said, "Did you know someone dressed up as him in 1992 and took on prime minister John Major?"

I was like, "What? There he is again."

And so that's when I thought, "Oh, wouldn't be funny to bring him back?"

May waits with other candidates for the result of the vote in her constituency at the count centre for the general election in Maidenhead, June 9, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

So Lord Buckethead is dead, long live Lord Buckethead. Who is Lord Buckethead now?

I believe [the Lord Buckethead Twitter account is] controlled by this American guy whose name is Todd Durham. He's the creator of the original film. But as far as that goes, because I've stepped away, it's not really for me to say, I guess.

Now we'll go to Theresa May, who has resigned. It seems that ... you as Lord Buckethead and Theresa May, you basically had parallel careers and you're sort of starting and ending in the same place.

I'm sure Theresa would agree with me that this isn't the beginning of the end, but surely just the end of the beginning.

What did you learn about politics from the course of being Lord Buckethead?

It's a real relief to know that British politics still has space for this kind of thing because, you know, we do live in quite strange times, and I think it's one of the most wonderful things about British democracy.

The fact that once every four or five years ... that these powerful people — the MPs, ministers, even the prime minister — they have to go back to their local town and stand in a village hall or church hall on a poky little stage amongst other members of the public who've chosen to stand against them for election and that, ultimately, they're all facing the same judgment, there is something fantastic about that.

And it doesn't matter whether you wear a suit or if you wear a bucket on your head or a clown costume or you're dressed as Elmo or a fishfinger, as one person did, there is this right that we have to do this.

There's something really special about this.

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Produced by Sarah-Joyce Battersby. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

 

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