Ranger Stacey takes prisoners
PARK ranger, TV identity, leader of a chain gang— there isn’t much Ranger Stacey Thomson, the long-time host of Channel 10’s Totally Wild children’s program, won’t tackle.
In 2004 she stepped into Terri Irwin’s shoes for a live American TV special, despite having given birth to daughter Madison only weeks earlier, and last year she donned a sari at a moment’s notice to host a Bollywood festival.
Then there was the time she had to look after more than the flora and fauna on an island in Moreton Bay in her role as a National Parks and Wildlife ranger.
‘‘About eight prisoners from Boggo Rd Jail were coming over to the island every day to do main- tenance work such as controlling weeds and mowing,’’ Thomson recalls. ‘‘I’d pick them up in the morning in our little boat. They were all minimum-security people, but Totally Wild, G Channel 10, Tuesday, 7.30am Wildlife up close Duration: 30 minutes basically I’d be in charge of a team of prisoners. It was great.’’
Thomson’s TV career started in 1988 when Seven asked her to film environmental segments for the children’s program Wombat.
That led to a seven-year gig on Agro’s Cartoon Connection, a generation of fans and the awkward adoration of one of TV’s most famous puppets.
‘‘It was fun because it was fly-bythe-seat-of-your-pants television work. The camera would keep rolling, even though it was pre-recorded.
‘‘It was a big learning curve for me because it taught me to go with the flow. Quite often I’d get very distracted by Agro, who would be doing something under the desk. He was in love with me and was always trying to serenade me.’’
The mother of Bridget, 8, and Madison, 5, has clocked 21 years non-stop on TV in Wombat, Agro and Totally Wild.
‘‘I remember I did a thing with Steve Irwin in 2004. It was a whole week beamed live into the US.
‘‘Terri Irwin was supposed to do it but her father had a heart attack and I got a call saying, ‘Can you step in?’
‘‘Madison was only five weeks old. I had to take my mum along every day because I was still breastfeeding. She’d take the baby while I was doing my thing and every now and again I’d have to sneak off and do what I had to do.’’
21 years on TV: