Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Final Shoot: Jonathan Ross

It's been a madcap ride, but after a summer of hard work our fifteenth and final shoot for Geek Calendar arrived, and boy was it a biggie: Jonathan Ross.

Jonathan Ross

'Wossy' is one of the UK's biggest stars (and not just on Twitter :P). He's worked in TV and radio for over 20 years and has a plethora of TV credits, notably his own Friday night chat show, BBC Radio show and taking over from Barry Norman as the presenter of the BBC's flagship Film programme.

But we love Jonathan, not for his fame, but for his geek credentials. His career has seen him front cult favourites such as The Incredibly Strange Film Show and Japanorama. And if that's not enough for you, he's appeared as himself in a Neil Gaiman short story and has just written his first comic book series, Turf. And let's not forget, he's married to the lady who wrote the screenplays for Stardust, Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class.

Jonathan is well-known as a huge cult film fan, comic book nerd, gamer and toy collector. So I couldn't help but envision a huge wall of alphabetically-organised comic books, wall-to-wall Marvel and DC comic art, the latest tech and collectibles coming out of your ears. As it turned out, my imagination came up sorely short.

If there were an MTV Cribs for geeks, Jonathan Ross's house would have to be first for a visit.

Wossy's 'office' is beyond nerd nirvana. For one thing, THE CEILING DISPLAYS SUPER MARIO SPRITES!!!

Another thing to geek out about is the chairs. They may look like something out of Blake's 7, but they're actually fully wired for surround sound, which is perfect for watching movies on the matching plasma screen or, as Jonathan says, getting your arse kicked by your son at Halo. (I have to say, surround sound chairs must give him quite the advantage over other online gamers. Beware Master Ross on XBox live!)


Jonathan gave us the tour of his favourite possessions, putting up with our (ok, my) exclamations of "OMG that's not an original [insert obscure character] figure from [insert Japanese anime]". That did, however, turn up a couple of facts:

1) He has a custom-made briefcase so he can carry his favourite figures around with him

Collectible case

2) He has possibly the coolest mother-in-law in the world: she knitted him an original Astro Boy figure (at the bottom in the pic below), complete with a voice recorded off a DVD!

Collectible shelf

We also got to meet the Ross pets: both real and artificial:

Mr Pickles!Aibo

Back to our subject, Jonathan was really up for hamming it up. He tried on several different costumes, including a winged hoodie and these awesome 'Icarus' trainers (taken out of their box and worn for the first time just for Geek Calendar!).


Icarus trainers

We also tried a few of him going commando (no, not like that) posing with an original Johnny Seven OMA gun (the Rolls Royce of toy guns, I'll have you know).

Locked and loaded

In the middle of this, our shoot was interrupted by a parcel delivery. Jonathan popped out and returned with a Fed Ex package. From another Jonathan. Jonathan Ive (a.k.a. the designer behind Apple's iconic product line of the last 13 years). Inside? The latest range of iPods announced by Steve Jobs just days before. All of them. OMGWTF?!

During the shoot Jonathan told us tales of life behind the camera (including the exaggerated rumours about his BBC contract and how disappointing it is when people take your jokes the wrong way). We talked tech gadgets (he has SO many retro games consoles and cameras), his wife's prowess at World of Warcraft, and how Twitter is simultaneously a wonderful communication tool, but also making it a little too easy for people to snipe at each other.

We heard about the projects on his horizon, including a travel show taking in the Trans-Siberian Express on the way to Hong Kong, and more comic books -- with one an awesome-sounding series on old-age superheroes (think Mr Fantastic with his bits sagging :P).

We also recorded a great video interview, several bits of which have made it into our series of videos (the first of which you can see here).

Jonathan was really accommodating and a fantastic host. We really can't thank him enough for taking part and having us round to geek out all afternoon (though I'm sure he enjoyed it as much as we did!). Thanks also to the lovely Gia Milinovich for helping us arrange the shoot.

Here are some further pictures of the Ross office. As always, there are more behind-the-scenes shots on our Flickr page.


Setting Aibo to go

Twenty geeks, fifteen shoots. Mission complete (at least this part of it).

Geek out.