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Ask 'Junkyard Wars Diva' Cathy Rogers 392

Junkyard Wars (and the British Scrapheap Challenge) have long been popular with Slashdot readers. Now Cathy is co-host of a new show, Full Metal Challenge, that also involves teams building strange machines out of this and that. Take a look at this 'Cathy' fan site (and possibly her less interesting official biography), then ask away. (Usual Slashdot interview rules.)
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Ask 'Junkyard Wars Diva' Cathy Rogers

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  • best (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kallahar ( 227430 )
    I always thought cathy was one of the bright parts of junkyard wars. When they brought on that dolt american guy I started to lose interest. Why is it that everyone thinks that you must appeal to the lowest form of american?

    • Because (Score:4, Funny)

      by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:04PM (#4496068) Journal
      No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
      • Re:Because (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BTWR ( 540147 )
        No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

        Flamebait flamebait flamebait. This is simply a stupid stereotype. Oh, and British shows always play to the HIGHEST denominator? ( weakest link)
        • Re:Because (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:20PM (#4496251) Homepage Journal
          Oh, there are a tremendous number of stupid British shows; no one's disputing that. And there are plenty of highbrow American shows, for that matter. But there exists a specific problem with importing foreign (British or otherwise) TV to America -- it seems that it always has to presented as Foreign And Literary And Important for the expensive-wine-and-public-broadcasting crowd, or dumbed down for the Budweiser-and-pro-wrestling crowd. What's missing is the middle ground.
  • Time... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AmigaAvenger ( 210519 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:05PM (#4496073) Journal
    On Junkyard wars it always seemed that the teams had something in running condition before the end of the time limit. Was there ever a time when a team had ABSOLUTELY nothing worth sending into competition? (Wouldn't make for much of a show though...)
    • Sure they did. Both teams ended up just hurling spanners at each other for ten or fifteen minutes.
    • Re:Time... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:21PM (#4496264)
      Once again, the answer exists [] for those that wish to find...
    • Re:Time... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:27PM (#4496312) Homepage Journal

      Was there ever a time when a team had ABSOLUTELY nothing worth sending into competition?

      Yeah, every British built contrivance in the US vs. UK competitions.

      I have very fond memories of the VW bug with a rake mine clearing device going up against the giant American diesel powered beach beater bar. The distctively USian machine was so destructive to the course that it was entirely obscured by sand while in operation, and utterly destroyed the mines rather than detonating them - which led to glowing and egregious anti-American Brit praise of the bug's rake having popped two mines during its run - until the fragments were counted. hehe.

  • by Shaddup ( 615685 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:05PM (#4496080)
    What was your reason for leaving JYW? Was there a specific reason, or was it just time to move on?
  • Or is this more an acting job rather than a presenting job. And if it is presenting then what made you interested in heavy engineering ? If not, good acting job :-)
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:07PM (#4496100) Homepage
    Out of all the teams that competed over the years, did you have a particular favorite team in terms of either technical innovation, work ethic or oddball team members? Which team do you feel was the "best (cough, Long Brothers, cough) overall Junkyard Wars team?
  • by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:08PM (#4496102)
    In the official RDF bio, you list yourself as receiving a "nice but useless" degree from Oxford. Considering that you then "read medicine for awhile" and later "became Head of Science" at RDF in 1998, I'm wondering what specifically was the degree from Oxford in, and how (if at all) did it prepare you for your career "in rubbish"?

    Side questions: what did you play in the band and what sort of music did the band play?

  • Inspiration for JYW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shaddup ( 615685 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:08PM (#4496108)
    JYW is truly a bizarre idea... How did you come up with it?
  • by Mikey-San ( 582838 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:08PM (#4496110) Homepage Journal
    Before the 'Heap, you were in a British indie-crash-twee-pop band called Marine Research, and before that, Heavenly. Do you keep in touch with Amelia and Rob these days?

  • by Nomad7674 ( 453223 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:10PM (#4496124) Homepage Journal
    Was there a "vision" for these shows - an overriding philosophical reason to make them - like getting kids interested in science, pushing the boundaries of tech, enhancing popular understanding of engineering principles? Or did the game show part of the show come first and a realization of their value later?
  • On Junkyard Wars, which host did you enjoy working with most?

    The british male host, the 1st USA male host, or the 2nd US male host (Tyler?).

    Sorry, I'm not good with names :(
  • Why Rollins? Why!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanLouBlues ( 245548 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:11PM (#4496150) Journal
    What's the coolest thing you've ever built yourself? Or, what's the coolest thing you've ever tried to build yourself?
    • What's the coolest thing you've ever built yourself? Or, what's the coolest thing you've ever tried to build yourself?

      What about Black Flag followed up by the Rollins Band and some significant spoken word?

      I believe that should qualify.

  • Your popularity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drkich ( 305460 ) <[dkichline] [at] []> on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:17PM (#4496205) Homepage
    My wife and I were both avid fans of Junkyard Wars. There were days when we would miss the first taping and stay up till after midnight to watch it.

    When you got off of the show we both lost interest. Yes, it was fun watching people build big machines, but much of the dynamic that we enjoyed was gone. It was then we realized just how important you were to the show and that dynamic that we enjoyed so much.

    Are you getting any feed back about going back to JYW? Would you if they asked?
  • Roll of expert (Score:5, Interesting)

    by naarok ( 102579 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:18PM (#4496219) Homepage
    Watching on TV, it often seems that the expert provides some good initial insight into a problem, but then often becomes superflous. Sitting through many hours of actually watching the challenges unfold. How valuable were the experts in comparison to teams with general inventiveness?
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4496234) Journal
    Why did TLC insist on renaming "Scrapheap Challenge" to "Junkyard Wars"?
    • It gets even better.

      Why do the English call them Biscuits when they are cookies?

      Then, they call biscuits "cookies".

      Why didn't they keep the original name from: "Under the Bonnet with Crispin Davies"
      to: "Under to Hood with John Studd".

      And oh yeah, why do they drive on the left hand side of the road?
  • Internationality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rodbegbie ( 4449 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4496237) Homepage
    Was there much difference between UK and US teams on Junkyard Wars? Did they have notably different attitudes or approaches?

    • Didn't you see that one episode of scrapheap challenge where they had an american team over? What a bunch of ego-inflated gits.. (they even had k-rad matrix style nicknames)
  • by nesneros ( 214571 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#4496240) Homepage
    Which of the various co-hosts you've worked with over the years are your favorites? Least favorites? Did you ever just want to smack the crap out of the "punkins, punkins, punkins" guy?
  • by gclef ( 96311 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:20PM (#4496250)
    So, have you ever been tempted to wander into somewhere like a LinuxWorld conference, just to see if you could stop all productive work from occurring? (you probably could, you know...)

    If not, are you tempted now?
  • hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mstyne ( 133363 ) <{gro.yeknomahpla} {ta} {ekim}> on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:20PM (#4496257) Homepage Journal
    Will we ever hear from Marine Research again? Please? (Or have I just not been paying enough attention?)

    Oh, and congrats on being one of TV's foxiest ladies.

    • Yes, more MR please!

      That was a weird discovery when I realized she's in that band after watching JYW for so long..!
  • Rollins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by esorense ( 199722 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:21PM (#4496265)
    I have always found Henry Rollins to be one of the more interesting people in music and acting. What is your opinion after working with him as the co-host? Had you heard of him before he was brought up to be part of the show?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:21PM (#4496267)
    You have said in the past that it would be good to have an all female team, but as yet, we haven't seen this.

    Why do you think so few women are interested in technology?
  • On Science and Music (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Little Green Woman ( 569323 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:23PM (#4496285)
    I see that your interests include both music and science. Do you find that those interests complement eachother, or are they often conflicting? Who are your musical role models?
  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:27PM (#4496320) Homepage Journal
    I'm not interested in proposing marriage: I already have a wife. But would you be interested in a position as 'the other woman'?

    Respond privately if you want.

  • Off screen testing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Mutant ( 167716 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:28PM (#4496323) Homepage
    How much testing goes on off screen?

    For example, the episode where participants had to build a diving bell, descend to the bottom of a small pond, and retrieve a chest of gold.

    I don't believe that this was not tested off camera, if for no other reason solely to insure you didn't inadvertantly end up making a snuff episode.

    Same thing goes for pretty much any device where explosives were used, or even the airplanes.
  • Mutliple hosts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:28PM (#4496328)
    I do love watching Junkyard wars, but something always bugged me - Why is there the turnover in hosts for the show? It seems that each season has a brand new host for a show that I'd think most hosts would like to stay on in order to achieve name branding.Is there something going on behind the scenes? Power plays? Or is it just cursed to have a new host for each season?
  • Rejected challenges (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:31PM (#4496354)

    What are some of the challenges that were rejected for the show, and why (too dangerous, too easy, too hard to do in 10 hours, etc)?

    BTW, love the show, and glad to see you back on US TV with FMC....
  • by GreggBert ( 89663 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:32PM (#4496364) Homepage Journal
    So, what's your favorite screwdriver tip ?
  • Ever think of going back to longer hair?
  • by Capt. DrunkenBum ( 123453 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:39PM (#4496416) Homepage
    Are you single? And if you are, what are you doing this Saturday night?
  • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:44PM (#4496456) Homepage
    If Cathy and John Carmack ever got together, their children would rule the world like gods!
  • Whose idea was it to pepper the commentary with so much alliteration? I love the show, but I find myself cringing and the tiresome tendency to talk in tedious tones.
  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:51PM (#4496526) Homepage
    Why do you think that women trying to appear (or are) "Geek Knowledgeable" or "Brainy" on TV have short hairstyles? Do you think long hair on women makes them appear unintelligent? Do you think you are reinforcing this stereotype with your short locks? Or can this all be boiled down to unintelligent women have an unnatural fear of sharp objects being placed near them on a regular basis?

    Extra credit: Do you prefer mousse or gel?

  • Funniest Moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hero ( 25043 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:52PM (#4496531) Journal
    Cathy, One of the best parts of Junkyard Wars was all the humour, I found many things to laugh at in each episode, especially when the hosts were talking to the teams about their plans going awry. My question is, what was your favourite funny moment in the whole series? And as a side question, because he's just too funny, what was your favourite moment involving Robert Llewellyn?


  • lets interview henry rollins next. he cohosts with cathy rogers on her new show.
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:56PM (#4496589) Homepage Journal
    nor have I ever watched your show, but...

    doesn't the the guy who made that fan site scare you? What about the people on this site? Do you really think Henry Rollins can protected you from a horde of obsessive, sex-starved American nerds?
  • by topografix ( 608736 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @12:58PM (#4496617) Homepage


    Junkyard Wars is the only show I watch on TV - my girlfriend tapes it each week, and we watch it together later. Over the years, we've noticed some unfortunate trends in the format of the show.

    In the earlier Scrapheap Challenge episodes, two teams competed against each other for the entire season, and we got to know and love them. Each episode dealt with a basic scientific or mechanical process (hydraulics, bridge building, etc), and a good bit of the airtime actually focused on the science involved.

    In later seasons, and especially this season, the teams almost always have a gimmick - usually a flamboyant leader who dyes his hair or gets in fights with the other team. The challenges are almost always car-oriented, and most of the airtime deals with cutting down the cars to make them lighter. There's very little explanation of the science behind the challenge, and the difference between the two vehicles is usually just "light and fast vs. big and heavy". Several of the shows this year have devolved into "bumper cars" matches as both teams realize their design works better as a battering ram than as their original plan intended.

    We find ourselves getting less excited about the shows, and suspect others have lost interest as well. So, my question for you is: How do you feel about the way Scrapheap Challenge and Junkyard Wars have evolved over the years? If you had complete control over the way the show is run today, what would you change?

    Thanks for entertaining and educating us over the years, and best of luck with Full Metal Challenge!

  • Your job seems like a dream job. Do you hire dream college interns on occation? If so, how does one apply?


    • Your job seems like a dream job. Do you hire dream college interns on occation? If so, how does one apply?

      Slack your ass off @

      That sound you hear is me banging my fist against the keyboard for using the worst possible sig ever for this situation.

  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:03PM (#4496674)

    First, you ROCK! . Thanks for creating the only worthwhile TV in a long time.

    After watching a Junkyard Wars marathon last year, I realized that you're a female version of Buckaroo Banzai. [] You both play in a rock band, you both have PhD's, you both appear on TV, and you both have a fascination with science. About the only difference is that he's a surgeon and you're a nurse.

    Did you purposely set out to become a real-life comic book hero, or was it just fate?
  • Marry me?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've really wanted to know... What's up with the dog in the title sequrence? I know, I know, it probably means nothing, but that dog has puzzled me from the get go. Name? Owned by someone? Just decided to throw it in?
  • I just caught my first episode of Full Metal Challenege last night, and I must say I was slightly disappointed.

    After all the lead up to destroying the losing car, it rolls into a tube and then a cheesy explosion went off. I was hoping you were going to smelt the metal down (I'm sure you might be able to "borrow" the facilities of a local mill even if you couldn't get the facilities on the premises of the show). I was expencting to see a lump of metal at the end and was just left hanging.

    What's up with that?!

    Oh and I too enjoyed the purely british version of the JYW much much more. The first time I saw it was a marathon, and my dad I stayed up 'till the wee hours of the morning glued to the tube. Thanks.
  • how do you do it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot@sup[ ] ['paf' in gap]> on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:12PM (#4496831)

    A lot of people don't realize that not only do you work on all of these shows, you help conceive the initial ideas behind them. How do you do it? Did you just one day have an idea and present it to a network, or did you work from the inside to have your concepts realized? What in your past got you interested in the whole build things from junkyard parts concept?
  • Computer? (Score:3, Funny)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:13PM (#4496845) Homepage Journal
    Do you.......Think Different?

  • by mttlg ( 174815 )
    Are there any real rules in Junkyard Wars/Scrapheap Challenge, other than the time limit, that are enforced? I can think of two other rules (captain and expert must stay in the build area, items in build area aren't open to scavenging), but they seem to be broken quite frequently. It would also seem to be a rule that tools and equipment provided for scavenging/construction, particularly the quadbikes, are off-limits as parts, but one episode featured a diving helmet made from a bottle from the water cooler (Did it become junk when it was emptied?).
  • by zrk ( 64468 ) <spam-from-slashdot&ackthud,net> on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:17PM (#4496887) Homepage
    Have any (and if so, which) of the constructs ever made you fear for your own life? I'm surprised none of them have ever had a major meltdown that sent the crews fleeing the scene.
  • I enjoy Junkyard Wars because it places a strong emphasis on the creation of the machines used in the final challenge. One could conceivably LEARN something from watching the show. Full Metal Challenge, which focuses primarily the contests themselves, is decidedly lacking in that respect. My question is, given the tractor-pull premise of FMC, why is it on The Learning Channel? Did any other network want a shot at it?
  • historical question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:27PM (#4496986) Homepage
    It is my belief that there isn't much left to be invented that comes from standard tools (ie: wood, steel, some screws and a little intuition). It seems that, in order to invent something revolutionary in these days, you need an advanced degree in materials science.

    If you were to travel back in time, which invention would you like to have your name associated with? In other words, if you had invented something in the past, which invention would you be most proud of?
  • We have all heard of the strangeness that stars have to put up with from their fans. What have been some of your more interesting fan moments?
  • Henry Rollins (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grip ( 60499 )
    I caught Full Metal Challenge last night on TLC. I sensed alot of chemistry between you and Henry Rollins -- a real friendship (with some playful shoving around of one another). How have your relationships with all of your co-hosts been off-camera?
  • Cathy;

    I don't think you understand how important you were to the Junkyard Wars show, in that, as the host of the show, you were the only one so far in a long string of hosts and co-hosts that actually seemed to understand what each team was building as they built it.

    Not only were you explaining to the audience how each contraption was supposed to work, you CLEARLY had a better idea of how it would go together than the teams did themselves.

    Some of the best parts of the show is where you would amble up to a particular team and make a suggestion or ask a question as to whether or not they were going to deal with a particular issue.

    It seems to me that the current crop of epsiodes doesn't have a "gearhead" host, and neither of them contribute to the build process of the teams. As such, discounting the amazing work of the Kentucky Fried Family, almost all the builds have been somewhat lackluster and devoid of any imagination.

    If anyone should be a host of the show, it should be Bowser Munson. Seriously, you need a gearhead host or the show falls flat.

    Please come back to Junkyard Wars. Do I have to grovel???????

  • Just in case people don't know: Cathy isn't just a pretty face for the show she's the Executive Producer. I read this [] in the Star Tribune about Full Metal Challenge and thought it was enlightening. From the article:

    "Full Metal Challenge," filmed in a converted power plant outside London this summer, is executive-produced by Cathy Rogers, who has produced and presented three seasons of "Junkyard Wars." She and Rollins co-host "Full Metal Challenge."
  • by banda ( 206438 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:57PM (#4497356)
    Have you found any differences between the contestants in different iterations of the show? Speaking as an American who spent part of his youth in England, I find the British contestants much more entertaining, insightful and engaging. Was it easier to work with any particular group? Were there any contestants that made the show difficult?
  • A few questions: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @01:59PM (#4497376)
    1) Why do the competitors get to look over the wall in the current series? It really detracts from the sense of mystery. Same with the trash talking; I much prefer the refined British approach.

    2) Why are the competition rules so wimpy? Witness the recent "vehicle that must fit through the hole in the fence" challenge. In general, it seems that the penalties for not following the rules are often so minor that you're more likely to win if you just try to break the rules and deal with the penalties.

    3) What happened to the cool challenges, like trebuchets, wall crushers, etc. Something where teams have little expertise.

    4) Are there challenges that didn't air because neither team made it, or only one team had something workable?
  • As a musician, what do you think of the music industry these days, specifically about the slave-labor-like recording contracts, industry ownership of copyrights, Peer-to-peer song sharing (MP3s), and the current fruitless atempts to copy-protect CDs?

    Is there anything that you can do in your current position to help change any of that to the betterment of recording artists and consumers everywhere?

    Ok, it was two questions. So sue me! ;-)

  • Your outfits... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theLime ( 4908 ) < minus pi> on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:48PM (#4497888) Homepage
    I like the show, I've probably seen 10 or 11 episodes, usually in the company of several friends. Every time, we ponder the oddity of your clothing selections; the shiny-skirt-over-pants thing looks completely bizarre to us, is this a common look in England (wasn't the last time I was there)? did you come up with this on your own? is that a toolbelt-skirt?

    I'm really really surprised that noone has asked about this yet, and I really want to know; what's the motivation?

    (here comes the inappropriate .sig :)
  • by nedron ( 5294 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @02:55PM (#4497942) Homepage
    The original Scrapheap Challenge teams (British) seemed genuinely likeable and didn't resort to theatrics or pointless posturing, concentrating more on what they were doing and the end result.

    Once the American episodes began to be produced, the teams really seemed terribly obnoxious and offputting. The "Young Guns" teams is of particular note in this regard. In fact, the team behaviors began to become so bad that my freinds and I simply stopped watching.

    Was there any pressure from the American side to introduce more conflict into the show, or was the change simply the nature of the American teams?
  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:08PM (#4498061)
    In Junkyard Wars, an expert in the area of the challenge is assigned to each team. I can not think of a time when the two experts "came up" with the same approach to the challenge (i.e. if you have to build a sub, both experts decide to use pressurized air). More often, the experts come up with differing approaches (one uses pressurized air, the other uses paddles). Is this by design in the selection of the experts, a pre-taping decision of the director, a flip of the coin, or what? Once it would be fun to see if the two teams build on a similar design and the team itself (not the predeemed methodology) decides the winner.
  • Rollins rules (Score:5, Interesting)

    by forkboy ( 8644 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:27PM (#4498244) Homepage
    I heard that you contacted Henry Rollins yourself to co-host the show with you. What made you choose him specifically? Are you a fan of his music/spoken word, a friend, or what? (I think you made a good choice, btw, Rollins has the kind of brash yet intelligent personality that fits this kind of show.)

  • Real Junkyard? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FurryFeet ( 562847 ) <> on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:38PM (#4499329)
    What is with that junkyard? How come there is so much stuff that is still actually working (motorcycle engines, for example). I mean, is it an actual junkyard and the contestants play the odds, or do you make sure that there's enough good stuff to build whatever it is they have to build?
    On a related note, my girlfriend (yes, she love the show) is curious about one thing: It seems that on every show both teams attack the same problem with very different designs. Is it casual, or do you somehow make sure that they won't try to build exactly the same thing?
  • by Ilan Volow ( 539597 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @12:09AM (#4501667) Homepage
    In "Junkyard Wars", after the contest ends with one team victorious and the other defeated, what happens to the stuff people built? Do the contestants take it home, does it go back to the scrapyard, or do you end up driving it to work the next day?

  • by Bazzargh ( 39195 ) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @05:08AM (#4502525)
    ... that you never used? (thermonuclear reactor? dentistry equipment?)

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351