Evan Davis: the best nerd on TV

The Dragons' Den host could teach us all a thing or two...


The fundamental basics of economics are harder to grasp than a dog in a bathtub. This means that you would need to be extremely intelligent to understand the subject in such depth that you can carve out a successful career from presenting its complexities to the public.


In turn, you’d need to exude extraordinary character in order to do so without coming across as a bit of a smug, know-it-all git. This is where we find Evan Davis, at the crossroads where brains meet charm (the corner of Vorderman Street and Lynam Avenue, perhaps).

There is something about Evan that raises him above TV’s other boffins. He doesn’t fit the nerd mould so snugly as, say, Declan the lovable BBC Breakfast stock exchange geek, or the guys on Working Lunch, who discuss the FTSE with the same enthusiasm most reserve for recounting the arrival of their first born. He’s different. He looks like a live-action version of Popeye who has been forced to wear a suit.

This is precisely why he isn’t the BBC economics editor any more but a bona fide television personality, thanks, of course, to his job presenting the excellent Dragons’ Den.

He’s the guy who wanders haplessly around the Dragons’ basement like a servant occasionally called upon to offer up another sacrificial lamb to his masters. Then, as yet another poor inventive soul is spewed out in the Dragons’ wrath, it is Evan’s job to explain to them where they went wrong and why their idea hasn’t been invested in – why it is that their dreams are smashed into a thousand pieces. This is no easy task.

Luckily, Evan has perfected a constant wonky grin, an overwhelmingly pleasant aura of niceness that suggests he’s being permanently drip-fed morphine. It’s truly infectious. He could tell you that there were only five minutes left until the sun exploded and that he was going to spend it explaining the ins and outs of neoclassical economic theory to you, and you’d still forgive him.

You can tell that he delights in his job, too; an important factor in appreciating the work of anyone. I recently saw him explaining the foibles of premium-rate telephone line competitions, and his eyes were rolling around his head like he never wanted it to end, such was the joy involved. You sense he’d derive the same levels of happiness from reading aloud his supermarket receipts.


Evan Davis is the best nerd on TV. Any man who looks as though you’re viewing him through the eyes of a fish yet can hold your attention unreservedly while explaining some of the most potentially boring topics in the universe is doing something right, right?