Will this space-bound Oxford finalist be crowned King of the Nerds?

He’s in the running to go to Mars

Soon-to-be Oxford graduate Ryan MacDonald is in the running to be crowned King of the Nerds.

The aspiring astronaut has just finished filming King of the Nerds, a new reality series on Sky 1, which will air this Sunday.

Ryan, a self-identifying space nerd, is now down to the last 100 in his bid to become a member of the first human colony on Mars, as part of the Mars One mission.

But with the first spaceship not set to blast off until 2024, Ryan has been busy filling his time between finals by taking part in the new reality show.

At home with space-nerd Ryan McDonald

Speaking exclusively to The Tab, Ryan told us moving in with ten other nerds was initially like starting uni again.

He said: “It was like Freshers’ Week, but you already know beforehand that you’re going to like the people you are going to meet.

“We all had such shared interests. It was a really great experience.”

Shrugging off the negative stigma surrounding being a nerd as a thing of the past, Ryan suggested the defining quality of a nerd is having one particular area of interest that you are obsessively passionate about.

He gave one piece of advice to jocks and potential playground bullies.

“Be nice to the nerds because one day they will be your boss.”

Your future boss?

Already a boss of sorts, Ryan has secured a PhD in Astrophysics at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge for next October, where his long term goal is to find out what makes planets outside of our solar system habitable.

Your long term goal is to earn enough cash to pay off your student loan and to spend a week a year in Ibiza, isn’t it? How does that make you feel?

A high achiever from a young age, at 15 Ryan was Derby’s representative in the UK Youth Parliament. But he said: “Science is a better mechanism to make a positive impact on the world than politics.”

Fulfilling the ambition of every 90s kid, Ryan spent time with Konnie Huq, the ex-Blue Peter presenter, during the the eight weeks of filming. He reveals that Konnie even describes herself as a nerd.

Ex-Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq hosts the new Sky show

When asked what advice he had for aspiring nerds, Ryan said: “Identify what is the thing you are passionate about. Then pursue it regardless of what people say.

“Everyday you wake up, know that you love what you are going to be doing that day. There is nothing more tragic than people who do work that they don’t enjoy.”

There goes your Accenture grad scheme then.

Despite spending most of his day buried in physics textbooks, Ryan is surprisingly no stranger to beats. He even admitted coyly that his favourite musicians are Tinie Tempah and Taio Cruz. 

To find out more about what makes space-nerd Ryan tick, watch King of The Nerds this Sunday, where Ryan will take on 10 other dweebs in a “physically challenging nerd war” and the “ultimate geek quiz”.