Ranger Stacey takes pris­on­ers

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - ERICA THOMP­SON

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:

Stacey Thom­son.

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