16 Jan 2024

Q&A with our Annual Dinner Guest Mark Williams

Looking ahead to our Annual Dinner, guest speaker, Mark Williams, an English actor, comedian, presenter and screenwriter, whose projects include The Fast Show, Father Brown and the Harry Potter films, answers a few questions.

Mark has a lifelong interest in industrial archaeology and has bookshelves lined with maritime history, military, social, economic and engineering books. He owns a small fishing boat and can tie a bowline.

Q: What do you think is the most important invention through history? 

“I’m going to say clockwork, which may sound a curious choice, but I chose it because of what it represents rather than its material benefits; a power source entirely independent of the natural world (apart from gravity). Clockwork became a metaphor for mechanical ingenuity, even a model of how the universe functioned. So, with this model of using a mechanism to generate power, other solutions could be imagined; like the steam engine - “I sell here, sir, what all the world desires to have - POWER.” 

Q: Have you learned any new knots recently? 

“I am very keen on the Truck-driver’s hitch, or Dolly Knot. It can be tied into a length of rope at any point without disturbing either end and acts as a block and tackle to tension the line. Very elegant. There’s an excellent demonstration on YouTube by Princess Hiab. I can’t tie it. Yet!” 

Q: How has technology changed the film/TV industry and the way you work? 

“Sound has changed the most. Digital sound, whilst being much more sensitive is very binary. Sound recordists could squash an analogue signal and get something; digital either works, or it doesn’t. Consequently, the pressure is always to get a very clean, almost sterile soundtrack which doesn’t always suit actors. “Whaddya mean do it again!” 

Join us at our Annual Dinner on 25 April 2024 at the Leonardo Royal Hotel London City, and hear more from Mark in his after-dinner speech which promises to bring together marine engineering with his trademark humour and insight.

Early bird tickets are available until 23 January 2024.