‘Small world, small industry. Top Gear…How You Doin?’

I bet you have never imagined that one day after your degrees are completed, and hopefully you’re working in the industry fulfilling all your dreams; that you’ll perhaps end up working alongside a member of Media Arts staff out there in the REAL WORLD… Well last month it happened!
I took a last minute freelance job Art Directing a couple of episodes of the new BBC Top gear series. We had an early call time of 7am, it was cold and raining on an airfield in surrey (think of that when you’re next complaining about your 9am lectures!)

I had noticed a familiar name on the callsheet the night before (Chris Holroyd Jones – Production assistant) so was seeking out his face among the crew as we all arrived for breakfast in our thermals.
Christopher Holroyd Jones graduated from the Media Arts Dept. in 2014 and has been working in the industry ever since, on shows such as: The Cube (ITV), Bad Robots (E4), Britain Today, and Tonight (Channel 4).
I was busy most of the morning meeting the Art department team I was working with, and catching up briefly with crew members I already knew from other freelance jobs – so I hadn’t had a chance to say hi to Chris yet.
He had been very busy driving the cars for that episode onto the set, and parking them up ready for the show. He was driving some VERY expensive cars… Meanwhile I was driving a Genie scissor lift to move pieces of the set out of the fire lane. So not quite as glamorous as the Jaguar Chris was driving!
Eventually, I finally managed to catch up with him about his job, and reflect on his time with us at RHUL. It took him a few seconds to realise who I was after tapping him on the shoulder. It must be like when some of you bump into us at the local supermarkets – weird, slightly awkward but funny.


(Pic on top, Helen & Chris posing for a sneaky selfie on the set of Top gear and below is Chris Holroyd Jones in his 1st year at Media Arts!)

He remembered his time with us at RHUL fondly and we chatted about which staff members are still here and who has moved on etc.
Interestingly he had studied Directing but found that once he got into the industry he had followed the production path. Nowadays, however his skillset is really suited to being a shooting PD in TV- Producer Director.
Chris explained that he had always been a big fan of Top Gear, so when the chance of a production role came up on the show he jumped at the chance, just like I did! Working for the BBC on big shows such as Top Gear is too good an opportunity to turn down, even after my 20 years in the industry! Not to mention the chance to work with Joey Tribianni himself! (Matt le Blanc, ‘Friends’) And just for the record: No I didn’t ask him ‘How you doin?’ What do you take me for!? A massive ‘Friends’ fan with a 20 year long crush on Joey…
Chris’ main reflection on his Media Arts degree was really interesting to hear, and I thought sharing it with you all might help in times of stress.
Chris’ main point was that he wishes he’d had more creative fun with his coursework and projects, not worried so much during his studies; and about his grades, the outcome or impressing his tutors. (Controversial, I know!)
Grades, of course are incredibly important, but enjoying what you do is equally as important and ultimately results in less stress.
We can easily take for granted the creative freedom that is encouraged and supported here in the Media Arts department, the real world of creative industries is often controlled by rules, contracts and briefs.

So whilst you are here, take a piece of advice from Chris himself: Let your creative freak flags fly students! Now is the time to experiment and create!

See Helen Mooney & Chris Holroyd Jones’s work in the new series of Top Gear Sundays 8pm on BBC2:

My IMDB page ‘Helen Mooney’ (how glamourous am I? I have a TV name 😉 I use my married name at RHUL- Helen Adams

And here is Chris’s IMDB page – soon to be updated with all the great shows he’s been working on recently!


Post Author: Helen Adams (Mooney) Art & Design technician & Studio Manager

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