Australia’s Irwin family has handed the world another TV star. Ten-year-old Robert Irwin’s small screen debut pairs him with 13-year-old Queensland student Isabel Yamaguchi as presenters of Discovery Kids Asia’s latest series Wild But True.
Robert is the second Irwin child to get his own show after family patriarch and natural history TV guru Steve’s death in 2006; Bindi Irwin took a starring role in ABC3’s Bindi’s Bootcamp, which sold to the likes to Starz in the US.
Wild But True is the result of a chance meeting of Discovery and the Irwin family at Singapore Zoo. Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific already had “generic science programme” in development for its kids network, says Kevin Dickie, the regional channel operator’s senior VP, content group, but after Robert expressed interest, this was quickly re-developed, leading to a greenlight in 2013 with Beyond Screen Productions brought on board to produce.
“The series explores the fun of biomimicry, an exciting branch of science that studies nature’s most clever inventions and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems,” said Dickie. “It will serve as an excellent showcase of Robert Irwin’s amazing knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural world.”
Dickie says the biomimcry themes will appeal to children’s natural curiosity, and says introducing Robert Irwin to audiences is an “exciting prospect”.
For Discovery Kids, the show is an opportunity to showcase its ‘Smart Fun’ strategy that aims to develop kids’ cognitive, social, emotional and personal skills. For the wider market, it will cater to an underserved area of programming, says Dickie.
“On the whole, particularly in the pay TV environment, primary school age content that is both educational and entertaining is in relatively short supply. There’s no shortage in the preschool space but it’s a different story for content targeting kids aged 6-12.”
Moreover, Dickie and his Discovery colleagues believe Wild But True is the first international children’s TV show focused on biomimcry. “With biomimicry we are able to delve into both the natural world and the man-made world of science and engineering, both key areas of focus for the channel.”
The show: Wild But True
The producers: Beyond Screen Production, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific
The distributor: Beyond Distribution
The broadcaster: Discovery Kids (Asia)
The concept: Robert Irwin, the son of the late ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin, presents a science and natural history show