Oh boy, can he talk
Bondi’s TV vet sure loves his pet subject, writes Erica Thompson
CHRIS Brown’s TV debut offered a new twist on the old adage ‘‘never work with children or animals’’— never work with a kid who likes to talk a lot about animals.
The Sydney vet, who grew up surrounded by all creatures great and small courtesy of his father, the local vet, first appeared on camera as a four-year-old on the children’s show Romper Room.
All was going well until host Miss Kim made the mistake of asking if anyone had any pets, Brown recalls with a laugh.
‘‘To this point I’d been fairly shy, this little blond-haired kid just sitting on the edge of the stage,’’ Brown says. ‘‘But apparently I leapt across the group and grabbed the microphone out of Miss Kim’s hand and looked straight down the camera.
‘‘Then I proceeded to tell the world about the collection of animals that we had, which was quite extensive, with dad being a vet.
‘‘I ran through the cow named Butch and the eight chickens, naming each individually, and there’s the dog, the cat, the finches, the donkey and what the donkey did and the fact that the dog did a lot of things that Dad said I couldn’t talk about.
‘‘I guess that was my introduction to television and it could have all ended very badly if the producers hadn’t been so tolerant of this kid telling animal stories.’’
Flash forward a few decades and Brown is still telling animal stories, but this time he has his own show, Bondi Vet.
It was filmed over a year in the iconic Sydney beachside suburb. Brown says it’s the perfect backdrop for some of Australia’s most quirky animal tales.
‘‘Everyone’s trying to stand out and that rubs off on their choice of pets, so people tend to have ridiculous pets around Bondi,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s not just dogs and cats. We’ve seen people with kangaroos and someone has a goat. I’ve been looking after a sick penguin.
‘‘It’s almost as if we’ve lifted up Bondi and given it a shake and out from between the cracks have fallen things you wouldn’t expect, doing things you wouldn’t expect.’’
Even after six years, Brown says he’s still amazed by some of the things pet owners ask for.
‘‘Certainly, they want their pets to be healthy and that’s where we come in, but some of the extra requests that we get for ‘enhancements’ . . . it’s quite interesting.
‘‘There is one that we did about a month ago. I can’t say too much about him, but let’s say he’s looking a lot younger than he used to.’’
Though Brown hopes viewers get a laugh out of many of the stories, Bondi Vet has a serious side.
‘‘People should be prepared to be taken from the most amusing thing they’ve ever seen an animal do through to some of the most heartbreaking things you’ve ever seen people do to animals,’’ he says.
‘‘But hopefully there’s enough light and shade there that people will leave this show smiling.’’
Light and shade:
Chris Brown, with dogs Abbey and Georgie on Bondi Beach in Sydney, says people ask for some weird things. Picture: JEREMY PIPER