Thursday, July 30, 2009

The best job in the world?

I have introduced Derek Robertson on a couple of occasions as the man with the Best Job in The World (Official). His office is overflowing with game consoles and handheld gaming machines. Essentially he gets paid to play games and mess about with technology. The best job in the world... or at least that's what I used to say!

You see, I've changed my mind. Derek has a great job but I no longer think it's the best. I've decided that the man with the best job in the world (and it pains me to say this) is Jeremy Clarkson. I suspect some background by way of explanation is necessary. :-)

Personal History
When I was younger, I wanted John Noakes' job. Not for me the attraction of astronaut or train driver. No, I wanted to do what John Noakes did. There was a child like enthusiasm about all he did that was infectious. I wanted his job. Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to apply for the job, the average age of the presenters had dropped dramatically. Apparently, it is not enough to have the enthusiasm of a teenager (like John did), you have to be one! My dream job was already out of my reach... and I was only in my twenties. :-(

Why Clarkson?
So how did I get from Noakes to Clarkson? Recently, I was asked, if I could do anything for a living, what would it be? I struggled to come up with a sensible answer but my mind went back to Blue Peter and John Noakes and I wondered what the equivalent for overweight balding middle aged men was... and thought of Jeremy Clarkson. :-)

I have no interest whatsoever in cars other than as devices to get me from A to B and yet somehow, I find myself enjoying Top Gear - even looking out for it in the TV schedules. Even more surprising is that my three daughters, who may be even less interested in cars than I am (if that were possible), enjoy it too.

Essentially the Top Gear presenters behave like daft boys (apart from James May who often takes on a more avuncular role), make "Vrroom! "Wheeeoow!" noises, and blow things up. They get paid for it and produce entertaining television while doing so. That is why, for me, Clarkson has replaced Robertson - if he doesn't have the best job in the world, it must be one of the best jobs.

Dream Job?
So am I saying I want to be Jeremy Clarkson? Of course not! I've already explained that I know nothing about cars and have little interest in the beasts. However, I do like some of the technology and gadgets associated with cars. Satellite navigation - brilliant! The reversing camera in my brother-in-law's new VW - excellent! The thing that beeps to let you know you've left your car lights on - genius!

What I want then is a programme that deals with technology and gadgets in the way that Top Gear deals with cars. A programme that takes an irreverent approach, that is accessible to non-geeks, is entertaining and occasionally informative. Does such a programme exist? If it does, that's where I'd like to play... er, work! I want to do something that engages people who are not naturally interested in the topic, informs those who are interested, and is at least reasonably entertaining in the process.

I had high hopes for Bang Goes The Theory. It was heavily trailed, shown in the evening on BBC 1 and the trailer promised some destruction and childish nonsense. It looked like it might be a techie equivalent of Top Gear. However, it was slightly disappointing and didn't cut it against Top Gear for at least three reasons:
  1. There wasn't enough gleeful destruction.
  2. It took itself a bit too seriously.
  3. It seemed to be trying too hard.
There were some good moments. For example, the reaction of Jem Stansfield when he tested his prototype air canon was great. The main problem for me though is the third reason. The guys on Top Gear make it look effortless - I'm sure it isn't but they manage to make it look that way.

It was, however, the first episode and it may settle down as the series progresses.

Front Runner
I think the closest to a Top Gear for techie types is the Gadget Show. It perhaps doesn't have the mass appeal of Top Gear, but does manage a reasonable balance between detail for the techie types and entertainment for the casual viewer. For example, one of my favourite pieces was when they put a ruggedised laptop through a series of tests, such as using it as a racquet to play tennis, which culminating in blowing it up with a stick of dynamite. (It still worked!) Impressive techie detail about the laptop and they blew stuff up - what more could you ask for? :-)

There are problems. For example, the "fun" seems a bit forced at times, like in the recent Summer Special, one presenter stripped down to his Speedos and chased another round the studio. Also, they seem to be too aware of Top Gear themselves. For example, Top Gear: Cool Wall - Gadget Show: Wall of Fame. However, the average age of the presenters looks like it's over 21, so there is hope for old, fat baldy men like me!

Best Job?
So, my best job would be to work on something like The Gadget Show, playing with toys, messing about and blowing things up? Maybe. Or perhaps it would be playing music on Rock Radio? Or working in a chocolate shop. Or... actually, I quite like the job I already do. :-)

What do you think?
What would be your best job ever?


Martin Owen said...

David, I don't think you are a t@ss€r - so you can't be JC.

However I think a significant point in your choices of dream job- and how they differ from mine is that
a) I want to invent design and make cool stuff rather than play with it.
b) I would rather make chocolate goodies (my hero is Pierre Marcolini : )than sell it.

So Derek never had a "best" job. That oes for people like Sid Meyer or John Romero

David said...

Hello Martin

I used to really enjoy programming but it must be about twenty years since I did anything serious. :-(

What I think is interesting, now that I've typed up this post is that I seem to be saying my dream job is to educate people. I said, "I want to do something that engages people who are not naturally interested in the topic, informs those who are interested, and is at least reasonably entertaining in the process." I hope I do a bit more than that in my teaching but it's not a bad as a basic description of what I aim to do. As I say at the end, "...actually, I quite like the job I already do." Perhaps this is a bit of a boring answer to my own question but it's quite pleasing too. :-)

David said...

I've had a couple of responses via Twitter.


dawnhallybone @DavidDMuir great post David think i would pick the gadget show but with sports involved as well commentating on cricket and rugby!
7:29 PM Aug 1st from web in reply to DavidDMuir


krysiaS @DavidDMuir having my own boat and taking Tourists out fishing somewhere like the Bahamas #bestjobintheworld
7:34 PM Aug 1st from TweetDeck in reply to DavidDMuir<

krysiaS @DavidDMuir or having my own workshop (again somewhere beautiful) and making handmade furniture #bestjobintheworld
7:36 PM Aug 1st from TweetDeck in reply to DavidDMuir

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