Matthew Butler (Tiswas)
Matthew James Butler (born 3 October 1974) is a former child performer who appeared on cult Saturday morning children's show Tiswas in 1980 and 1981. He debuted on the show aged five, having won over presenter and producer Chris Tarrant in an audition of children's acts.
Matthew's act was to sing "Bright Eyes" in an endearingly childlike way, prompting laughter and applause from the audience, although Matthew himself did not seem aware of the comedy value of his singing. All of his recitals of 'Bright Eyes' were performed with him dressed in a bunny rabbit costume, holding a large felt carrot.
After his debut in early 1980, he was invited back two weeks later to sing another song - Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall". After this he would be invited back occasionally throughout this series and the next, always performing "Bright Eyes" – when not foiled by Tarrant's cry of "Not now, Matthew!"
Matthew's act rose to a cult status – he even had his cover of the song issued as a commercial single, although it failed to reach the top 100 in the British music charts. The song was included on The Four Bucketeers LP, a piece of Tiswas merchandise. Matthew took the opportunity to perform his song in front of a paying audience at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, on the Tiswas team's Four Bucketeers tour.
His rabbit costume and carrot were made by his mother. According to Tiswas presenter Sally James "Matthew turned up in his rabbit suit and then one week she just turned up with all these rabbit suits for all of us – and all these carrots. It was just so bizarre, and we all wore them. I’ve still got mine! The last time I put it on, my kids were very little, and we said to them ‘If you look out of the window in a moment you’ll see the Easter bunny in the garden, putting Easter eggs around’. And so I hopped outside about five minutes later. You know, obviously they knew it was me, but it was quite fun".
After Tiswas, Matthew's parents split up, with some of the family, including Matthew, deciding to use the surname "Lewis" (the maiden name of Matthew's mother). Therefore, these days Matthew is known as Matthew Lewis.
Despite having not made a performance since Tiswas, Matthew has remained a curious phenomenon with local press in the midlands area. He remains keen to talk about his time on the show, and joined up with Tiswas fansite TiswasOnline as a contributor and researcher in 2005. For the site launch, ITV1's regional news bulletin for the West Midlands invited Matthew to walk around the disused ATV studios in Broad Street, Birmingham.
Matthew featured as a guest on a Saturday morning programme on Wolverhampton Community Radio alongside former Tiswas presenter Sally James to talk about his time on the show. His interest in broadcasting and ease with the medium led him to gain his own weekly Saturday morning show on the station, playing a selection of indie music with sidekick "Savage" (aka Martin Southall), under the banner of The Matt and Savage Show. This programme moved to Sunday evenings in April 2007 at the same time that the station re-launched as WCR FM
Bright Eyes act in 2005
Matthew and three friends appeared on Saturday morning show Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow, performing "Bright Eyes" in rabbit costumes in a tribute to Matthew's time on Tiswas. The act was visually different from the Tiswas days, with Matthew now a thirty-year-old man, although he brought along his rabbit costume and struggled to put it on during the act for comic effect. The show itself has been compared to Tiswas, and allowed an opportunity for hosts Dominic Wood and Richard McCourt to dispel false tabloid rumours which alleged the two were going to revive Tiswas on ITV.
Tiswas Reunited – The 2007 Special
The programme Tiswas Reunited included 1 minute 20 seconds of Matthew's Tiswas performance, which Tarrant described as "one of my favourite items". Matthew was then "spotted" in the audience, wearing an adult-sized version of his rabbit suit, and was briefly interviewed by Sally James. No reference was made to Matthew's name change or subsequent career in the media.
- "interview: Sally James". The Den of Geek. 2008. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
- Chris Tarrant Fan Site Excellent Chris Tarrant website now featuring a special Matthew Butler page.