No Time To Live – broadcast’s answer to James Bond
It’s probably safe to say that not everyone who ventured out to see “No Time to Die” was struck by the similarities between the modern-day Bond and the everyday broadcast engineer. But take it from someone who grew up on a diet of 007, if you can look past the suave sophistication, the elegant suit and, yes, the sex appeal, the likeness is uncanny. Let me explain…
In every Bond book and feature film, from “Dr No” to “No Time to Die,” our hero faces a seemingly impossible task with the highest stakes. He’s thwarted more attempts to start WW III than NATO and has single-handedly prevented everything from earthquakes to space attacks and bacteriological disasters. Now, while it’s true that broadcast engineers aren’t often responsible for the future of the entire planet, they too are often called upon to save the day when all hope seems lost. Only those that have seen how this man among men (or woman among women) can bring a vital piece of equipment back online within seconds of going on air can appreciate their ability to avert imminent disaster.
Like Bond, our television technologists are also blessed with nerves of steel. Their calm composure and utter dedication to the task at hand is legendary. While Bond risks all for queen and country, the engineer puts their personal lives aside while they toil tirelessly through the night to fight a network problem or find a bug in the system – they know that there’s no time to live when a broadcast deadline looms.
And then there’s the gadgets. True, your average media technology professional probably has no use for the rocket firing cigarettes, radioactive tracer pills or exploding toothpaste found in Bond’s arsenal, but their reliance on, and penchant for, technical wizardry is the same. In this regard, however our broadcast engineer’s capabilities surpass those of our favourite secret agent as they not only use these gadgets, but also create them. Like some king of genetic mutation (where have we seen that before?) that combines 007 and the iconic Quartermaster, every self-respecting broadcast engineer has a back room filled with bits of tech that they’re in the process of revamping, reconfiguring and repurposing to solve a future problem. And, like Q, often they can’t confirm how effective they will be until they’re put to the test!
Finally, while Flemming’s original character could be (and was) described as a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, the modern James Bond and broadcast engineer has adapted with the times. It’s fair to say that for both this has meant giving up cigarettes, changing their attitudes towards women and bringing more emotional depth to their day jobs – but in quite different ways. The dinosaur label isn’t exclusive to agents of espionage, though.
Broadcast engineers have also faced the challenge of a totally changed professional landscape where circuit boards and soldering irons have been replaced by cloud workflows and Python scripts. The explosion of content platforms and technology in recent years has meant that our broadcast engineers have had to reinvent themselves completely in order to avoid extinction.
Now that Daniel Craig has relinquished the role, the big debate is whether the next Bond will be a woman, a person of colour or someone from Asian descent. In our opinion, none of that really matters. What does matter is that 007 retains the intrinsic characteristics described above that have stood the test of time. And, clearly, that means the next Bond should be a broadcast engineer
– MC Patel