Interview: Mark Thompson - SpaceCareers.uk
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Mark ThompsonCredit: Mark ThompsonMark Thompson

Interview

Mark Thompson

Freelance TV space/astronomy presenter and writer.


What does your job involve?

I work extensively with the BBC on specialist and general interest shows to bring complex space stories to the public in an easily digestible and engaging form. I also write for Discovery News and Universe Today websites. Along with public speaking, this enables me to reach a wide ranging audience.

What interested you in working in the space sector?

I have had a fascination with all things in the night sky since I was a young boy. My interest evolved into becoming what could be classed as an advanced amateur working on a number of professionally run research projects. This, along with my passion for popularising space is what has really driven me to work in the field that I do.

What do you do in a typical day?

During the last series of Stargazing LIVE, a typical day would start off quite relaxed. I’d arrive about 2pm for a script meeting with the other presenters and producers to discuss content, spend an hour outside to check the telescope equipment and then do a quick run through of the script for the crew to work out camera angles and rough timings. This would be followed by a quick bite to eat and a full dress-rehearsal; typically full of gaffs but better to get them out of the system during a rehearsal than the real thing. We'd run through trouble areas before the make-up call and use any spare time to memorise my script. Once on air, I do my bit, it’s live TV, so if there’s any gaffs we just keep on going. When the show finishes, the set is broken down before a mad dash to the pub. Aside from all that, if I'm not filming or in meetings, then my day consists of writing!

Are there any other interesting aspects to your work?

I love the travel and meeting people. I have worked with some great people especially in my work on The One Show. You'd be surprised how many celebrities have an interest in space/astronomy from David Essex to Jonathan Ross.

What is it about your job that fascinates or inspires you?

The thing that really inspires me in my work is how to articulate a complex scientific concept in a way that will enable a member of the public to understand it and even want to learn more.

Why is what you do important?

The essence of my work is to get astronomy and space stories out to the general public, to increase the public awareness and to make it easier to digest. This applies to children as well as adults. Inspiring children to pursue a passion for space is what will give this country the next generation of space scientists.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in space?

My career isn't strictly space however I work very closely with many space/astronomy professionals. A career in space doesn't just help get satellites in orbit or get man to the next planet. It’s also about the wider benefit to Society. For example, the space race has developed water purification techniques that have benefitted the third world and saved many peoples lives. It’s a fascinating Universe out there and sometimes it helps things down here in a big way too.

Author

UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency is an executive agency of the Government of the United Kingdom, responsible for the United Kingdom's civil space programme.

This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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