Matthew Wright has a show on the National Geographic channel called Outback Wrangler. And Matt’s billed as Australia’s answer to Bear Grylls:
Matt Wright’s aim is, wherever possible, to remove and relocate problem animals rather than kill them, any animal, anywhere, anytime.
Chopper pilot Luke Kingsley knows Wright from mustering days at Wrotham Park Station, in far north Queensland.
“He’s a good pilot, but a bit of a mad bastard,” Kingsley says. “He’s not afraid to have a go at anything.”
Wright’s the breed of bloke who sees nothing extraordinary in the ridiculously extraordinary – wrangling crocodiles, catching snakes or staring down a mad-as-hell bull.
“Crocs? Nah, not worried about them. I’m more worried about (mechanical failure in) the chopper,” he says.
“I don’t see it as being dangerous. It’s not dangerous if you know what you’re doing.
Coming into work isn’t dangerous is it?”
Yet Wright could see the raw excitement on the faces of Wrotham Park guests when he took them on chopper joyrides, fishing, bull-catching or running brumbies.
“They just loved it,” he explains, with a hint of surprise. “They loved seeing the muster and the crocs, the impact of the wildlife and especially egg-collecting from the crocs.”
The phones went into meltdown, explains Wright’s agent, Nick Fordham.
They signed with a US production house, which billed Matt and sidekick Jimmy as modern-day, wildlife superheroes saving the children of Australia from marauding crocodiles and sharks who’d had a whiff of blood.
Despite its huge budget, that relationship was, perhaps not surprisingly, brief.
Nat Geo Wild stepped up, offering an authentic reflection of what Wright does and – with the support of Screen Australia, Screen NSW and production partner Freehand – Wright will be catapulted on to the world stage in spring.
The excitement – and brash marketing – in a statement by National Geographic Channel’s supremo, Geoff Daniels, is palpable.
He describes Wright as a “wild-world action hero”. “He’s like the Lone Ranger, riding in to save people and animals in distress but his horse is a helicopter and he uses a rope instead of a gun,” Daniels says.
“Matt Wright makes the dangerous business of doing good for wild animals exciting and cool.”
Certainly, when you consider the impact Aussies such as Steve Irwin, Jamie Durie and Curtis Stone have had on US audiences who warmed to their laid-back, egalitarian Aussie spirit, Nat Geo can probably sense the potential return in a personality such as Wright.
Please ignore the beefcake references at the link. I found them annoying, but you may like that sort of thing. If so, don’t ignore them. Revel in ’em. As for Matt Wright being Australia’s answer to Bear Grylls, I just don’t agree. Matt is a lot like Steve Irwin. Bear is more of a survivalist.