The British TV presenter, who has fronted science shows including Brainiac: Science Abuse and Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections, said: “I would have loved to have been a scientist but at school I was rather put off it.
It felt inaccessible, it felt exclusive. I just felt it was one of those things for other people.
“I also loved painting and art, and I loved writing and English lessons, and I almost felt like I had to make a choice. I can’t like art and science, I couldn’t like both, so I just leant towards the artistic side of things rather than pursue science. That’s such a shame. (But) the world lost nothing when they lost me as a potential scientist.”
The 44-year-old, who presents National Geographic Channel’s new show Science Of Stupid featuring hilarious clips from YouTube, says things have changed for the better.
“I think genuinely things are changing now. It’s far more acceptable, perhaps because there’s an increase in visible technology around us and its immediate impact on our lives and our futures, meaning it is a far more immediate subject,” he says.
“It’s not stuffy, it doesn’t belong in laboratories, it belongs out in the world. There’s a lot of popular science television programs now and that’s great.
“I’m not saying the programs I make should inspire scientists of the future – that’s a big ambition and it might happen – but more likely and a more realistic ambition is to inspire people to talk about it in the pub.”
The father-of-two’s passion for science and technology has influenced his teenage daughters.
“My youngest daughter, bless her, is simply not interested but my eldest daughter indulges daddy so she’ll come with me when I fly helicopters, and she’ll come on the back of a bike with me,” he said.
“She and I are rebuilding an old 1970s Honda and she has quite an interest in the mechanics of it and the way it works. More significantly, they both have inquiring minds and that’s really what I’m about.
“A lot of the programs and TV shows I make are about having a healthy interest. Not lauded necessarily as an expert, I’m by no means a scientist, I am just interested in the subject and how things work.”