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...)
absolutely nothing? hmmm. i think that's a question of interpretation... did you see the hydrofoils show? neither of the machines worked at all. so what did we do... repeated the challenge for the british version of the show and that time... neither of them worked again. we just won't learn. but its funny - people use to think i was just being a smart arse when i would go in and give the teams a hard time for being behind, having nothing ready etc - but really i was terrified that we wouldn't have a last part of the show and was imagining that we'd all have to do the can-can or something...
2) Why do you think Engineering is so male dominated?
by Anonymous Coward
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?
oh lord i don't know. i vacillate so much on this one - sometimes i think it is all just habit and training and sometimes i think there really is some different configuration of men's and women's brains - like when i see my little niece desperately wanting to wear pink and play dollies and my nephew constantly deconstructing the alphabet / numbers etc.
but we have actually had all-female teams a couple of times now - twice on junk and in the new show full metal challenge. (in fact there is a fabulous all women team in the show next week - the flamin' aussies who are all drag-racers and are cooool) and they've done well - but they're always a real battle to find. i thought it would be easier in america, where in many ways women's position in society generally is more evolved - but i was wrong. it seems just as tough. and its odd because in other areas of science women are ahead of men. its just something about wirey stuff and digit stuff and big hammer stuff. but any tech-keen ladies reading this, please please apply! you have my ear.
3) how do you do it?
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?
i was working for an independent tv company (rdf media) when we first hatched the idea for scrapheap challenge (the british name for junkyard wars). so i was in a good position in that i was talking to people at the networks here all the time about all kinds of ideas. and that was just one that hit home. the idea actually first came from the movie apollo 13 and being transfixed by the 'houston we have a problem' part. that scene in which all the very non-typical-hero boys at ground control had to figure out how to save the astronauts lives with nothing but a bit of knicker elastic and a plastic knife. it was that that got us thinking - making life-saving stuff out of rubbish - brilliant, and making the people who aren't normally heroes (i call them the grubby fingernail brigade) into heroes - fantastic. the junkyard and all the rest kind of followed from there. don't know quite how i have managed to end up doing so many shows about boy stuff though. i would much rather go to a nice art gallery.
4) American vs. British contestants
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?
well here's a funny thing - a lot of americans prefer the british teams and a lot of british people prefer the american teams... what can it all mean? are we all riddled with self-loathing? are we all superbly positive and outward-looking and natural anthropologists? i don't know. i think there is part of the show which is about observing people doing their thing in their natural habitat, a bit like how we might watch a natural history film about baracudas. and in that sense it is easier to watch people who are bit removed from ourselves. i would say in terms of being a host (yuk yuk hate that word) - it is easier to do the american shows because american people are more 'tv-articulate' - they understand what is required for tv - i guess simply because tv is the most dominant medium in american life and history. whereas for brits, other media are still dominant if you look over the whole period of our history; we haven't quite let go of a time when we read dickens serialised in pamphlets, so we are more used to sitting quietly taking things in - rather than 'putting them out there' ourselves. americans can get away with saying things like 'i am the big cahuna' whereas british people just sound silly saying things like that. the only downside of the american show is that americans seem to be more competitive, which can mean that things get a bit serious sometimes. in the new show FMC the brits often lose and find it all rather funny and are very self-deprecating. but the americans sometimes cry!
5) Sounds from the indie records
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?
indie crash twee pop?! yikes. don't let that get out. yes i do keep in touch with the old indies though i must say i don't go and shuffle along to shows as much as i used to. i saw britney in vegas so the tortured lollipops at the dublin castle will never feel quite the same...
6) As a musician, what do you think of...
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?
is this a leading question?! do you have a letter drafted for me to sign?!
er.. where to start? big corporations are scary in many many ways and the music industry is obviously no exception. but although there seem to be so many new issues today where normal people / artists / whatever are exploited i wonder whether it is really that different from when i was a kid and me and my mates used to tape everything off the radio and make compilation tapes (one of the greatest and most overlooked art forms) and never buy a record in our life. except if it was a local band or a band on a really cool label or a record where we just loved the cover and had to have it. its a big discussion - the only incontrovertible good is to support your truly independent labels. k records / kill rock stars / many others have proved that you can have integrity, great music and not go under.
7) Role of expert
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?
it depends a lot on the challenge. if its something innovative and thought-provoking like 'build a car that fits in a suitcase' then most teams who have the necessary know-how to get on in the first place would be able to make a pretty good stab at it expert-less. but in other challenges, such as making gliders or submarines, they are dependent. it also depends of course how well they all get along....
8) massive disruption to geeks everywhere....
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?
er. i blush easily. my sister and i used to have a fantasy about going to this event called 'crufts' (a really pompous but very-seriously-taken dog show in england (like, they show it on tv! ) where people parade their over-coiffured hounds around doing daft tricks and generally proving that to be english is to be humorous in this fairly tragic way) and doing a streak. but maybe just with bottom halves! it would be a totally pointless act of sort-of-harmless-sabotage of a worthless institution and this amused us.
i suppose what i mean (ie not evading your question quite so obviously) is that the notion of committing a minor act that leads to massive disruption is an appealing idea. but i'm not quite sure about yours....
9) Off screen testing?
by The Mutant
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.
worryingly little. its always the hardest decision - test them and make sure they work but risk them breaking during the test (which you're not filming) and then you have no show, or fail to test them and have true spontaneity and excitement about the outcome but risk them failing during the show or being dangerous or whatever. we debate it endlessly and there is often a half way house - the diving bells you can put in the water and test-pump some air, the gliders you can tow up on a winch without a person on them. but it never gives you the full picture and what you see in the show is invariably the first time the machines have been properly tested, people and all. scary isn't it?
10) Why Rollins? Why!!
What's the coolest thing you've ever built yourself? Or, what's the coolest thing you've ever tried to build yourself?
well who else would look as good in a power station? i mean, just say the words 'disused power station' and you think of henry. i think he is fantastic - a force of nature. and he makes me laugh a lot.
what have i built? lord how embarrassing. you have outed me. the sad truth is the things i have made which have been the most impressive feats of engineering and construction have been cakes. sshhhhhh.