If you have a child between five and 12 and access to a remote control, there’s every chance you’ll be familiar with intrepid adventurer Steve Backshall.
Backshall hosts BBC’s Deadly 60, exploring the globe for the deadliest predators in their natural environments – from the smallest insects to the giant teeth barers of the animal kingdom. His enthusiasm and curiosity is infectious for kids and adults alike.
My six and eight-year-old boys were extremely impressed by his stage show Deadly Pole to Pole last year, so Backshall’s return to Adelaide with Deadly 60 Down Under was to be a good test to see if he could back it up and maintain hero status in our household for 2018.
For over an hour at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Backshall captured the unwavering attention of his diverse audience in what can best be described as a lecture in animal science. Anyone who doubts the attention span and comprehension of an engaged group of children would do well to take themselves along to one of the Deadly shows.
In a presentation that includes footage and out-takes from the TV series, in-depth explanations of the science behind animal behaviours and anatomies, and a few examples of Australia’s “deadly” wildlife on stage, Deadly 60 Down Under is accessible for a broad range of age groups.
The show includes an inflatable shark and crocodile, the appearance of snakes, lizards and spiders on stage, and half-explained but visually interesting science experiments. But the true engagement comes from Backshall’s enthusiasm and genuine love of the world around him.
Focussing on the theme of Australia’s wildlife, a subject already familiar to many audience members, he builds up knowledge around that which is relevant and identifiable.
The success of his presentation lies in his refusal to “dumb it down” for kids; he displays a level of respect for both his audience and subject matter which sets him apart from over-animated counterparts, and his knowledge will hopefully inspire the next generation of conservationists, scientists and naturists.
Steve Backshall is a genuine hero among children who are often fobbed-off as a screen-addicted passive generation. The wide-eyed audience members at Deadly 60 Down Under, who will tonight be thumbing through their Deadly 60 books to learn more, are proof that adventurers and activists are brewing.
Deadly 60 Down Under was presented at Her Majesty’s Theatre over the weekend as part of a national tour.
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