David Hoyle was born in Layton, Blackpool – a Northern seaside town known for its pier, light shows, theme park and tower (think Eiffel Tower of the North). Bullied at school for his sexuality, Hoyle describes his upbringing as challenging. He found solace in Blackpool’s summer seasons, where he watched the circus, particularly the genius clown Charlie Cairoli and the full original cast of Are You Being Served? at the magnificent Winter Gardens.

Aged 17, he began performing comedy routines at local working men’s club Belle Vue as the character Paul Munnery-Vain – the first of many alter-egos. At 21, he jumped ship, leaving the bright lights of Blackpool for those of the capital.

David Hoyle with blue hair and a red dress, stood on a street at night smoking a cigarette

David Hoyle, Bootleg Social, Blackpool 2017. Photo by Lee Baxter.


After a stint in London, Hoyle returned North to Manchester where his character The Divine David was born. This was his route into the world of TV. The Divine David appeared on BBC’s Comedy Nation (1998) and starred in Channel 4’s The Divine David Presents (1998) and the Divine David Heals (2000). Sean Burns describes the show: ‘Each punchy, half-hour dose is a psychedelic trip containing absurdist skits to camera’. [i] The Divine David came to an outlandish end when Hoyle killed him off during a dramatic farewell show at Streatham International Ice Arena entitled The Divine David on Ice.

David Hoyle posing in the front seat of a car, with red hair and high heels and blue stockings

David Hoyle's Electric Cars, RVT London 2018. Photo by Lee Baxter.


Burnt out from being The Divine David, Hoyle took a five-year break from performing. In 2005, he returned as ageing popstar Doug Rocket on Nathan Barley – a Channel 4 sitcom written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris, featuring a not-yet-famous Benedict Cumberbatch as a supporting actor. Brooker and Morris introduce his character: ‘Founder member of seminal 1980s politi-synth electro rock duo the Veryphonics, Doug Rocket is one of the most important figures to have emerged in the history of clueless self-indulgence’. [ii]


After The Divine David and Doug Rocket, it was time for David Hoyle. In 2006, Hoyle embarked on a tour of the UK with David Hoyle’s SOS. Produced with theatre director and Factory International collaborator Sarah Frankcom, it was his most autobiographical show to date. In 2007, Hoyle began a ten-part show at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London – an iconic queer venue in London where he still performs today.

David Hoyle with bright red hair and a necklace made of red pencils, holding a daffodil

David Hoyle's Triumvirate, RVT London 2017. Photo by Lee Baxter.


Each of Hoyle’s alter-egos is characterised by an outrageously unpredictable style. He doesn’t hold back, taking aim at anyone and everyone including himself. Blending song, dance and live mural painting with searing social commentary, Hoyle is a true interdisciplinary artist.


Though best known for his performance and TV work, Hoyle is an accomplished visual artist. His paintings and collages feature bright, gaudy colours with provocative slogans and statements. On his artwork, Hoyle says, ‘A lot of my painted collages feature stuff that usually ends in the bin like food packaging… it’s a reminder that we are all consumers’. [iii] Painting extends to his performance, where he often concludes by creating a live portrait of an audience member.

David Hoyle wearing a see-through dress and fishnets, stood in front of a floor length mirror.

David Hoyle, Centre for Live Art Leeds 2018. Photo by Lee Baxter.


In 2022, Hoyle was canonised as 'Saint David of the Avant-Garde' by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – a worldwide order of queer nuns established in San Francisco in 1979, with the Manchester House established in 1996. The canonisation was organised by artist Jez Dolan, marking David as their first English Saint since Derek Jarman (Saint Derek of Dungeness) in 1991.

This April, Hoyle takes over Manchester once again with a three-week celebration of his work to date at Aviva Studios. Part retrospective, part takeover, Please Feel Free to Ignore My Work is a celebration of Hoyle’s prolific output from the stage to the screen to the canvas.

David Hoyle with a black wig, wearing a dress made out of plastic bags

David Hoyle, Ancoats. Photo by Lee Baxter.

All photos by Lee Baxter. Please Feel Free to Ignore My Work runs from Wednesday 10 to Sunday 28 April 2024. Explore the full programme here.


[i] Burns, S. (2024). '‘Stay Strong and Stay Fabulous’: Celebrating David Hoyle', Frieze, 25 March. Available at: https://www.frieze.com/article/celebrating-david-hoyle

[ii] Brooker, C. and Morris, C. (2005). 'The rise of the idiots', The Guardian, 12 February. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2005/feb/12/tvandradio.theguide1

[iii] Ingham, J. (2021). 'Lee Baxter and David Hoyle Join Forces for a New Exhibition', AnOther Magazine, 6 September. Available at: https://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/13524/lee-baxter-and-david-hoyle-join-forces-for-a-new-exhibition

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