The BNOCs (Big Names on Campus) are the people who have become either famous or categorically infamous, for a grand variety of reasons.
One of Royal Holloway’s most rapidly rising stars is an unassuming, third-year geography student called Dan Evans. But if he’s so unassuming, why is he simultaneously a rising star? As it happens, there has been a massive increase in his popularity in recent weeks, and he has even been gaining coverage on national television.
In his spare time, Dan enjoys reading and making radio podcasts. But he is better known for the YouTube videos he makes about the geographic features of his beloved home county, Norfolk. They introduce the viewer to Dan’s endearing love for this often neglected county, but his unique style of presenting is what’s really given him the edge. His first national TV appearance was on Viral Tap, an ITV panel show hosted by Caroline Flack. Since then, he’s been discussed in the LAD Bible, and is soon to appear on Rude Tube. With all this, Dan has essentially become an internet meme, and it’s his passion for geography that led him there. I caught up with Dan to see what he thinks of all this.
So Dan, what inspired your love for Geography?
I’ve always been fascinated with the way the world works. As a young boy, I used to ask all sorts of weird and wonderful questions about the planet. Little did I realise at the time, but what was evolving in my mind was a natural curiosity about the world. I was, of course, delighted when I found out that there was a subject devoted to answering these questions. And I’ve been in love with Geography ever since.
Why did Royal Holloway in particular appeal to your geographic studies?
I’ve always preferred Physical Geography (rivers, deserts, coasts, etc) over Human Geography (cities, culture, development, etc). So when it was time to think about which degree to do, I decided to do a BSc in Physical Geography. Royal Holloway was one of the few universities in the country doing that course. But, that said, Royal Holloway looked such a fantastic university anyway!
Many of us here struggle with our procrastination demons. What keeps you motivated?
Mankind will never have all the answers; we’re always learning new things and asking more questions. Sometimes, the more we know, the more questions we have. I think my personal motivation comes from my childhood; my natural curiosity about the planet will perhaps fire me on forever!
Did your YouTube channel start as a passion project, a hobby you did for fun?
Well, I’ve always loved getting outdoors and exploring and I think my film-making emanated from that. When I was quite little, I used to make lots of home documentaries; from our back garden to the local area. Then, when we started going on more exotic holidays, I always used to take my tripod and camera and would spend my holiday with a script in my hand! Later on, when I was in college, I produced a series called Difference with Dan which took two similar geographical terms (such as rock and stone) and attempted to outline their essential differences. That went really well, and the rest as they say, is history!
How do you feel about the recent surge in popularity, or even ‘internet meme’ status?
I think ‘surge’ is the operative word there; my popularity seems to come and go. A couple of years back Greg James from Radio One tweeted one of my videos which created a surge for me. Then I did some presenting at the end of an ITV2 Viral Tap episode. Recently, I was given a great boost of subscribers when I was featured on the LADBible website. It’s nice to know all these hours of hard work are being appreciated! But, when things die down and the surge drifts away, it gives me time to relax and channel my thoughts.
Do you have any plans to continue your media success?
I will continue to produce documentaries and, I am considering a return to radio. I’ve had a brief pause this past year since my 10-part series ‘On the Trail’ which aired last summer. It’s given me time to reflect on some new ideas and gauge where I’m at and what people want from TvGeog.
What would you like your future in Geography to look like?
Truth be told, an academic one; researching and lecturing in Geography somewhere. There are academics like Brian Cox who are able to continue their research alongside making documentaries for the BBC and ITV and perhaps I will go down that route. Whatever happens, my curiosity about the planet will never sleep and that philosophy of trying to discover more about the place we live in will follow me wherever I go!
You can find Dan’s TV documentaries on his YouTube channel, “TVGeog”, and further information on his website.
Could Dan be the next celebrity to come out of Holloway? It’s certainly possible, but let’s just hope it’s for the right reasons.