Stacey wild about an­i­mal at­trac­tion

Stacey Thomson has seen the best and worst of the an­i­mal world, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY PAY TV -

VERY JOB has its dan­gers, as Stacey Thomson from To­tally Wild can tes­tify. Ranger Stacey, as the kids know her, has been pid­dled on, bit­ten and scratched dozens of times dur­ing her time on the Chan­nel 10 chil­dren’s show.

The show is cel­e­brat­ing its sec­ond decade on tele­vi­sion and Thomson has been there ev­ery step of the way.

She first ap­peared on Chan­nel 7’s Wom­bat in the 1980s and then on Agro’s Car­toon Con­nec­tion.

Thomson was re­cruited to ap­pear on a part-time ba­sis for To­tally Wild when the show be­gan in 1992, while still work­ing as a Na­tional Parks wildlife ranger. She took up full-time res­i­dency six years later.

‘‘I re­mem­ber the 10th an­niver­sary of To­tally Wild and think­ing how well we’ve done and ‘how long can this go on for?’,’’ she says.

It’s now the long­est-run­ning C clas­si­fied (6-12 year olds) pro­gram on Aus­tralian TV, al­though Ten is no stranger to pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity shows for this age group, hav­ing been be­hind the suc­cess­ful Si­mon Townsend’s Won­der World from 1979-86.

Thomson says of all her run-ins with an­i­mals, the un­likely con­fronta­tion with a wom­bat is still stamped in her mem­ory.

‘‘It launched at me and got me on the shoul­der,’ she says. ‘‘Its teeth went through my shirt . . . it didn’t draw a lot of blood, and gave me a dead arm.

‘‘The rea­son it at­tacked is I pre­vi­ously had a par­rot on my shoul­der and I got rid of it to give wom­bat a cud­dle and I think it as­so­ci­ated the par­rot with me.’’

Dur­ing its 20-year run and more than 3200 episodes, To­tally Wild has helped launch the ca­reers of many tal­ented pre­sen­ters in­clud­ing Dr Ka­t­rina War­ren, Tim Bai­ley, Sami Lukis and for­mer Big Brother house­mate Wes Den­ning, who is now in LA and about to host a show on the Dis­ney Chan­nel.

To­tally Wild is the cre­ation of Ten’s head of chil­dren’s pro­gram­ming Cher­rie Bottger, who came up with the con­cept af­ter not­ing the in­ter­est of her then five-year-old daugh­ter in an­i­mals and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Bottger says the show has been forced to evolve to re­tain the at­ten­tion of school chil­dren, who can eas­ily be en­ter­tained and mes­merised by the pull of the in­ter­net.

‘‘Kids are so me­dia savvy to­day, it’s quite a chal­lenge to still en­ter­tain them and give them in­for­ma­tion in a fun way,’’ she says.

‘‘They are no longer pas­sive view­ers and they want their view and their say, and that’s part of our so­cial net­work­ing theme that we can talk to view­ers one-on-one.’’

Mon­days to Wed­nes­days, 4pm; Satur­day, 8.30am, Ten, Ten SC.

2006. Fas­ci­nat­ing tale set in the 1960s in the wastes of Kaza­khstan, where the Soviet Union is pre­par­ing to send a man into space. Site doc­tor Merab Ninidze, wor­ried about the health and safety of the cos­mo­nauts, is also be­com­ing in­volved with a lo­cal girl, de­spite his love for his wife in Moscow. Slow-paced drama nods in the di­rec­tion of Rus­sian great An­drei Tarkovsky, but has its own tale to tell. Chul­pan Kham­a­tova.

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