Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Jason Bradbury, author of the Dot Robot series and presenter of The Gadget Show

'I got three A-levels and 13 0-levels and CSEs'


Jason Bradbury, 40, is now in the sixth year of presenting The Gadget Show on Channel Five. Atomic Swarm, the second novel in his Dot Robot series, is just out. He is at Gadget Show Live at the NEC, Birmingham (8-11 April) and will be taking his Dot Robot Road Show around schools during the year (www.Jason bradbury.com).

I played Judas in the Easter play and was hanged in silhouette. It was only a paper cut-out but even at 10 I was aware that it could have a profound psychological effect! In fact, they were hugely happy days at St Andrews C of E Primary in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire: a wholesome and healthy experience.

I was a bright kid and it seemed like the wrong result when I failed my 11-plus, unlike my brothers. They went on to grammar school – imagine the problems that started! But going to Gartree Secondary Modern (now Community School) was the best thing that happened to me.

I had several influential teachers. Mr Ritson was the English teacher who brought Beatles' lyrics to the class: "What does this line in 'Eleanor Rigby' mean?" When I was 12 I came to him with the play of Just William which I'd written and said: "You are going to direct this, Mr Ritson – starring me!"

I had a very austere science teacher, Mr Walker. He forced science on us. It was like the Stockholm Syndrome, when you fall in love with your captor. He wouldn't let me not do science at O-level.

All the science in my books is real. In the Dot Robot Road Shows that I take to schools, children control real robots that walk round the hall and do handstands.

I didn't realise that you could go to school and mess around; I believed the teachers and did exactly what I was told. I would think: "Why am I here in this lesson for 45 minutes?" I never lost sight of the fact that at the end of the year I would be tested.

I've had a life dedicated to getting more qualifications than my brothers – combined. When I went to North Lincolnshire College in Lincoln, I thought, "If I take four more O-levels, my brothers will never catch me." They never came close! I got three A-levels and 13 O-levels and CSEs.

In the one A-level (art) I did in a year – to show off – I got a B, and also got two O-levels. In my second year, I took four exams and got four As, in English and psychology A-level and in French and drama O-level.

I got a 2.1 at Bristol University, which has the best drama course in the country: it was very intense, very hard work and I remember having no free time really. I studied comedy as a module. David Walliams and I were totally focused on getting our double-act off the ground; we were part of a group who set up a regular comedy club called "David Icke and the Orphans of Jesus'". Dominik Diamond, who later appeared in Shaun of the Dead, was compere and Simon Pegg, who played Scotty in the recent Star Trek movie, did a stand-up act.

Of the plays, I remember an overly arty interpretation of Kafka's The Trial and a lot of experimental theatre – one involving the use of rancid fish in a jail cell. Sarah Kane, who went on to write Blasted, was in my class. Within a couple of years of leaving she had a play at the Royal Court. She later wrote a play about suicide and then committed suicide. She is regarded as one of our great female playwrights – and I was at lectures with her.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital