My best teacher

25th May 2001 at 01:00
I went to school in St Asaph, north Wales, to Ysgol Glan Clwyd on the banks of the river Clywd. I was brought up for the first few years of my life by my grandparents, as my parents were working, and I learned Welsh before I learned English. It was a great school - we felt like we were keeping the Welsh language going. And, apart from two teachers who I didn't get on with, the rest of them were fabulous.

But above all the teachers in that school, there was one man who I loved. His name was Gomer Davies, and he was my physics teacher. He had a passion for physics and he really liked teaching - he would throw his hands up, and run up and down. And he was always having disasters - the main thing I remember from his classes are fires and explosions. I don't think he was hamming it up - the fear in his eyes told me it was real.

He had a furrowed brow. I think he was genuinely concerned for our education. He was one of those teachers who didn't despair, he was always right behind us, pushing us forward. He would put his arms round us, and say, "Come on, let's work this out."

Gomer was a very animated, entertaining teacher. Two things people say about my approach to science on TV is that I am animated and enthusiastic, and I'm sure most of it is down to Gomer Davies.

My father was an electronics engineer and had his own shop where he repaired televisions. So at 10 I built my first radio from a kit with my dad on Boxing Day. I wasn't a great one for studying, and I couldn't reel off formulae, but I had a very practical understanding of science and technology.

This somewhat perplexed Gomer Davies, because sometimes I would do really badly in a test and he would say, "Oh, Gareth!" in despair. When I sat my O-levels, I failed physics, and I can remember Gomer saying: "Of all the people I expected to pass with a flourish, it was you - what happened?" Well, I got to 15, the Sex Pistols released their first record, and I fell in love. Too much time was spent playing in my band or being with my girlfriend. I re-sat physics and got aB, which was tremendous.

In 1976 there was a fuel crisis and the authorities wanted to get us in at 6am or 7am and send us home at lunchtime to save energy. Gomer Davies decided to make a short film in protest about this, to be shown at the autumn fair at school, and he asked me to act in it.

It was a three-minute film called Y Dyfaiss (The Device), shot on Super 8. In it, I have an idea and go off to the physics laboratory and make a time-compression device that speeds up everything in the school so that all the lessons happen at double speed. But it has a side effect which means that at the end I disappear.

A couple of years ago Gomer contacted me via my website. I wanted him to see I was continuing his work - doing physics with kids - so I sent him a tape of some of my programmes.

Gomer sent me back a copy of Y Dyfaiss. I cried my eyes out when I saw it. The significance of that piece to me is enormous. It's not a great work of art - it's not like finding John Lennon's first song. But if ever there was a starting point, that is it - he was the first person to direct me.

I have lost touch with Gomer Davies since then. But he was a shining light to me, and he deserves recognition. If there is anyone who would be pleased that I am doing what I do, it would be Gomer, and I want him to know that what he taught me meant something.

TV presenter Gareth Jones was talking to Harvey McGavin

The story so far

1961 Born, north Wales

1972 Attends Ysgol Glan Clwyd

1980 Studies for diploma in engineering; helps to design part of A55 in north Wales

1981 moves to London as a roadie with pop group The Alarm; works in a flour mill

1983 Tours US with The Alarm supporting U2

1985 First TV job - as a video jockey on satellite station Music Box - under nickname Gaz Top

1986 Hosts ITV's Saturday morning children's show Get Fresh

1990 Presenter on ITV's How 2 with Carol Vorderman and Fred Dineage

1996 Presenter on ITV's The Big Bang

2001 New series of The Big Bang begins


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