Raven Master is Britain’s most unusual job

Tuesday 13th May 2014

  • New survey reveals half of Brits agree the position of Raven Master is UK's most unusual job

  • London Dungeons actor, Swan Marker, Professional Wing Walker and the Queen's Piper are named as Britain's most unusual jobs

  • Four in ten Brits wish they had a more unusual career

  • Over a third of British adults wish they pursued a career at Her Majesty's Secret Service

The Raven Master, whose principle responsibility is to care for the Tower of London's eight resident ravens, has been voted Britain's most unusual jobs, by 48% of British adults. Also featured in the top five unique professions are London Dungeons actor (36%), the Queen's Swan Marker (29%), Professional Wing walker (27%) and the Queen's Piper (21%). Only 16% of those surveyed agreed they would describe their job as unusual, and 39% wished their career was more unusual, like the ones in this list.

A survey of 2,000 men and women was commissioned by Britain's leading factual channel Yesterday to mark the launch of the new and exclusive series, Secrets of Britain, Wednesdays at 9pm from 14th May. The programme takes a quintessential look at the UK's heritage and life, with each episode featuring a different iconic British institution.

Britain's Most Unusual Jobs

Video: Britain's Most Unusual Job

The top four of Britain's most unusual jobs:

1. Raven Master - 48%

Chris Skaife is the Raven Master at the Tower of London and his job is dedicated to caring for the eight resident ravens. Legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the ravens ever leave the fortress, so it is an extremely important role.

Work-life balance: Work starts at 7am for breakfast; the birds eat about 170g of raw meat a day. Work finishes after dark, with a secret whistle calling the birds to bed.

Highs: It can be really rewarding to care for the ravens and Merlin is known to be the friendliest of the ravens.

Lows: Despite the ravens having one wing trimmed, some still escape and others have had to be sacked from the position at the Tower, a massive problem for the Raven Master

2. London Dungeons Actor - (36%)

Lucy Garson and Mike Swain are two of the 50 actors who work at the London Dungeon. Their motto is 'scary fun', and they can entertain up to 4,000 people a day, They aim to give each audience a memorable experience. Most members of the London Dungeons cast are trained actors, and everyone has to attend an audition.

Work-life balance: Often have to work weekends and long hours, starting at 9:30am and can have to work up to 8pm.

Highs: The positive reactions, good feedback and sometimes applause from audiences.

Lows: A lot of stamina is needed to put in the energy for every performance throughout the day.

3. The Queen's Swan Marker - (29%)

David Barber was appointed the Swan Marker in 1993 and is responsible for all of the swans throughout the UK, where the Queen exercises her prerogative right. He organises the annual event of Swan Upping on the River Thames. His other duties include educating young people and working with other organisations to monitor the health of the swan population.

Work-life balance: This is not a full-time position, although planning for Swan Upping in July starts in March.

Highs: Teaching and getting young people excited about swans and having the opportunity to meet the Queen and other dignitaries.

Lows: Seeing swans injured or nests destroyed, normally caused by fishing tackle or dog attacks.

4. Professional Wing Walker - (27%)

Richard Pickin is a professional Wing Walker at Aerobatic Tactics, the only company in the UK with permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to legally offer wing walking experience flights to the public. Wing walking is the act of moving on the wings of an airplane during flight and has been seen in air shows and barnstorming since the 1920s.

Work-life balance: Richard flies every weekend and some evenings between April and October, weather permitting.

Highs: The opportunity to teach and take members of the public on a thrilling ride.

Lows: This is not the career for those who hate flying or heights.

Britain's most unusual job - top twenty

  1. Raven Master - 47.8%
  2. London Dungeons Actor - 36.1%
  3. Swan Marker - 28.7%
  4. Professional Wing Walker - 26.9%
  5. Queens Piper - 21.3%
  6. Professional Tea Taster - 20.8%
  7. Crown Jeweller - 20.3%
  8. Window Cleaner for the Gherkin - 18.8%
  9. Beefeater - 18.7%
  10. Intelligence Officer for MI5 - 16.4%
  11. Sewer flusher - 15.9%
  12. Clockmaker at the Palace of Westminster - 14.1%
  13. Bridge Operator - 13.8%
  14. The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod - 13.3%
  15. Grand Secretary of the Freemasons - 12.9%
  16. Pest controller at the Houses of Parliament - 10.4%
  17. Lock-keeper for the British waterways - 9.4%
  18. Master of the Houses - 8%
  19. Bartender at the House of Commons - 6.5%
  20. Serjeant at Arms - 6.4%

Adrian Wills, General Manager of Yesterday added,

Chris Skaife, the Raven Master, clearly enjoys his unusual and one-of-a-kind job. All the careers included in this survey are quintessential British and unique to this country. The Yesterday series Secrets of Britain investigates the history of our iconic institutions, which are all steeped in tradition and British culture.

When respondents were questioned about the unusual jobs they would most like to pursue, Intelligence Officer for MI5 topped the poll, with 17% of Britons admitting they would love to try and be the next James Bond. A further would like 13% the prestigious role of Crown Jeweller, who is responsible for the maintenance of the crown jewels, and another 12% believe they have what it takes to be the Raven Master, and protect the important birds at the Tower of London.

The top ten unusual jobs British adults wish they could pursue

  1. Intelligence Officer for MI5 - 17%
  2. Crown Jeweller - 12.7%
  3. Raven Master - 12.5%
  4. Lock-keeper for the British waterways - 11%
  5. Selfridges Window Dresser - 9.2%
  6. Buyer for Harrods - 9.1%
  7. Tower Bridge Operator - 8%
  8. Swan Marker - 7.7%
  9. Bartender at the House of Commons - 7.2%
  10. London Dungeons Actor - 6%

A staggering 35% of men and women revealed Her Majesty's Secret Service is the British institution they wish they could work for the most. This was followed by pursuing a career in broadcasting at the BBC (32%) and taking up a regal position in the Royal Household (22%). Working at Scotland Yard (20%) and the Houses of Parliament (14%), appeared in fourth and fifth position.

The top five British institutions the public would most like to work for

  1. Her Majesty's Secret Service - 35%
  2. BBC - 32%
  3. The Royal Household - 23%
  4. Scotland Yard - 20%
  5. Houses of Parliament - 14%

Secrets of Britain is new and exclusive on Yesterday, Wednesdays at 9pm from 14th May

For more information or expert interview opportunities, please contact:

Emily Jones, Publicist

Notes to Editors

About Yesterday (Freeview 19, Sky 537, Virgin 203)


Showcasing UK premiere series such as Raiders of the Lost Past, Forbidden History, and Museum Secrets. Yesterday is the home of fascinating factual stories. The channel features dynamic history and science-inspired series such as Perfect Storms: Disasters that Changed the World, and programmes which challenge expectations including CIA Declassified. Ancient history is also featured in series including Ancient Black Ops and Medieval Dead, plus modern conflict in shows such as Black Ops.

About UKTV

UKTV is the multi-award winning media company that reaches over 42 million viewers per month.

UKTV's ten imaginative channel brands - Watch, Dave, Gold, Alibi, Eden, Yesterday, Drama, Really, Home and Good Food - include the most watched non-PSB channel, the most watched channel in the Factual genre and the most watched channels in the Lifestyle genre (Pay and Free). The company's most recent financial results showed a record-breaking year-end revenue of £262m, and operating profit at £71m.

UKTV has a truly innovative model, curating brand-defining commissions, high-profile acquisitions and the very best of BBC and Channel 4 content, and embracing technology to deliver inspired channels to audiences through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, BT TV, TalkTalk, YouView, plus direct On Demand digital services. The network distributes its highly valued programmes to 200 territories around the world and supplies Sky with more hours of HD content than anyone else.

Now celebrating its 21st year at the forefront of digital television, UKTV - an independent commercial joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI) - is proud to be the only British broadcaster to be recognised by Best Companies.

corporate.uktv.co.uk / pressoffice.uktv.co.uk / @uktv_press