Stacey wild about animal attraction
Stacey Thomson has seen the best and worst of the animal world, writes
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.