Meet Ian Forrester, Senior Producer

Ian talks about his journey to BBC R&D, memories of epic food fights and his interest in empowering the citizen.


BBC UX&D Staff
Photo of Ian Forrester smiling

In this instalment we meet Ian Forrester, Senior Producer. Ian is currently working with the BBC's R&D team.

How do you explain what you do for a living to a child?

I’ll usually say I help invent the future. I want to empower children to take an active role in their own futures, so they don’t just feel like a bystander.

Name one favourite thing and one challenging thing about your role?

My favourite thing is the diversity of the work and people I work with. I love how everyday is different, the joy of everything changing all the time keeps my mind ticking over. Collaborating with people in different countries and organisations is tricky, but I always find a way to make it work.

What was your journey before coming to the BBC?

I went to an inner city school in East Bristol. I decided I wanted to be a designer of some kind, originally architecture but did graphic design in college. I didn’t do A-levels, just GCSEs. During college I experienced the potential of the internet, which drove me towards the digital space. I topped up my diplomas with a BA in interaction design at Ravensbourne. At that time I also found out I have dyslexia, and life was always going to be different for me.

After leaving University, I worked at a design startup in London during the first dot com era. When the dot com era fell apart in early 2001, I started lecturing and working for the University. I did that for years, but decided I was still young and set my sights on the Government or the BBC. Working to make a better society had become increasingly important to me, especially after working during the dot com bubble.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

I worked for a now defunct company called Mountstevens. They were the Greggs of the South West. I cleaned the main factory at 6am every Saturday. The factory was vast ,but worse still was the amount of food that got returned and needed to be compacted. Unfortunately the food compactors were outside and attracted a LOT of wasps. On the upside, we had epic food fights!

If you could explore any other profession, what would it be and why?

I would consider more design related fields like architecture and product design. I find the Internet of things, smart cities and ethical design very interesting.

If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of career advice, what would it be?

Don’t compare yourself to others, be confident in your own abilities.

I think this could be a motto for life really. I got to where I am by being myself and not emulating others.

What’s on your playlist right now?

I’m not into playing music in a playlist, I listen to music mixed by a DJ.

Right now I’m listening to one of my own DJ mixes (which I did on a plane recently). Generally I listen to DJ mixes, podcasts and audiobooks.

What do you do to switch off from work?

Ha! I never really switch off. My work is my pleasure and my pleasure is work. I know some people say this, but I really mean it. I’m always doing something which could be misconstrued as work. I have been blogging for 15 years. It’s a mix of things including technology reviews, life/cultural/travel experiences, dating thoughts, etc.

If you pushed me and banned me from technology, I would head to a roller coaster park, a spa or a park with my diabolo. I also DJ on a special device which I guess could be classed as switching off?

In a world where anything is possible, what is the single most exciting thing you would do with technology?

I am very interested in decentralised and distributed systems and their role in democratic uses of technology. Ultimately empowering the citizens.

Imagine the democratic uses of 3D printers, biotech and high bandwidth, low latency networks. For example, what happens to our environmental impact when we can 3D print items locally for the surrounding community? When biotech enables us to grow plants which radiate light at night to make streets safer for a local community?

Now that's exciting, wouldn’t you agree?

What drives or inspires you?

I am inspired by many things, but diverse human creativity and collaboration are what inspire me the most.