From York to Malia: the story of one geek’s journey

talks to Alister Talbot, York student and star of new E4 series Geeks

Photo courtesy of Alister Talbot

Photo courtesy of Alister Talbot

“It is what you call someone who obsesses about a hobby/something that they like/something that they do repeatedly. But it becomes their life…they live, eat and breathe it!”

This is “geek” according to Alister Talbot, a 22-year-old euphonium enthusiast who is set to make his television debut on E4’s Geeks. The show follows groups of somewhat unlikely lads and lasses on holidays to the archetypal student destinations. The York undergraduate juggles 12 hours a week of band practise with a chemistry degree. However, he wouldn’t self-identify as a geek.

“Many people do say I am geeky. I appreciate that some consider me to be a brass band geek because I love talking about band, I love telling people what I’ve been up to whilst banding and I just love doing it! Perhaps “unusual” would be a better word…”

Alister’s episode sees him travel to Malia with three of his fellow bandmates to a luxury holiday villa. On arrival however, E4 had a surprise for the boys. They would be sharing the property with four girls from Basildon. The girls were as fanatic about “cosplay” (costume play) as Alister’s bandmates were about brass.

“We’re not idiots abroad”, Alister tells me, “the show is basically showing how a group of friends who don’t usually go to a party resort react to the situation. My friends and I don’t go on holiday to get with as many people as feasibly possible. We go on holiday to have a good time.”

“Cosplay” was the girls’ idea of a good time. I wanted to know what exactly this meant.

“Cosplayers read Japanese comic strips/animé stuff and dress up as the characters that you have read about. If you are a cosplayer you go to cosplay conventions and meet other cosplayers to compare your outfits, take a few pictures and then get back into your normal clothes. Odd concept really, and I don’t really think I’ve quite got my head around it yet!”

By shacking up four geek girls and four geek guys in a luxury villa, E4 did little to hide their intentions for the students. On enquiry however, I came to learn that the “geek factor” wasn’t necessarily something Alister was looking for in a girl. Apparently, there may be more to life than cosplay conventions.

“Some people just don’t have certain “type” of girl they look for. I think you fall in love when the time feels right and when you’ve met the right person. That person you fall in love with may even be the person that others thought that you would be most likely to fall for.”

But for any ladies reading who may be interested, it should be made clear that Alister is already a grandmother. Known as the “granny” of the group, Alister is, according to his friends, suffering from something of a serious generational crisis.

“I drink copious amounts of gin, I have old fashioned views, I’m stuck in my ways, I can be grumpy and I do like peace and quiet.” Alister’s “old fashioned views” came to surface when the bandmates were taken to an exclusive pool party and bikini beauty contest. As gentlemen, they questioned the morality of the competition.

“None of us were expecting that. It was wrong in so many ways, but that is what goes on in those places unfortunately. And no matter how much our York feminists do to try and make both genders equal, there will always be a certain view of women in these party resorts – it was shocking, it really was.”

York may be a hotpot for feminist debate, but it holds other generalisations to its name. I wanted to ask Alister whether it was fair to refer to the University as the “University of Dork”.

“I love the place, the people here and the amazing friendships that I have made over the past 3 years. I suppose it may get that label what with being the place for like “Oxbridge Rejects”. However, I think it should be seen as a positive that this world class institution attracts some of the brightest and best youngsters in the UK. I quite simply love the place!”

As Alister reaches the middle term of his final year at the University, he recognises that his regular trips to Willow, Kuda and solo parts backed by his beloved UYBB are numbered. As a fellow third year I can sympathise all too well.

“I’m going to carry on banding for as long as I can because I love the music and I love the amazing people I have met along the way. It’s always been a hobby for me, so I won’t be making a career of it. I’m looking forward to becoming a teacher which is what I’ve always hoped I would do.”

So to conclude with, a final message to those fellow York students whose hobbies have fast-transformed into obsessions and whose “geek” status is painfully conspicuous?

“Everyone should be proud of their interests no matter how odd they are….”

Episode 3 of Geeks Monday the 9th December, 8pm on E4.

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