Andy’s Wild Adventures is a new wildlife series like no other!
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Children’s Natural History Programming in 2012, CBeebies presenter Andy Day goes on a rollercoaster ride around the world visiting some amazing countries and coming face to face with some fascinating creatures.
Using footage from the BBC Natural History Unit’s stunning archive combined with the latest digital CGI and green-screen technology, Andy finds out what it’s like to hang out with mountain gorillas up in the treetops of Africa; dance with flamingoes in Kenya and snuggle up with Emperor penguins in Antarctica.
Can you tell me about the new show?
In a nutshell, my character takes the audience on a magical journey around the world to meet some amazing wild animals. There are so many elements to the series from the fantastic footage from the Natural History Unit to the amazing facts about the animals and also the fact that I am able to get closer to the animals than any other wildlife programme has done before. I am able to shrink down to their size so I can do exactly what they do and I think that will really draw the children in.
You play the park keeper – can you tell me a bit about him?
Andy works at Pickles animal park and he loves his job. At the beginning you see Andy hard at work and you meet the animals in real life. But the real adventures start when Andy goes on a tea-break!
Why did you decide to take the role?
I was keen to have a new challenge. I love nature and I wanted to learn more about nature and animals. But also, the idea behind the series itself is every boy’s dream – I get to fly, I get to go under water, I get to meet so many animals, I shrink in size and I have all these really cool gadgets.
Where do you visit on your rollercoaster ride around the world?
I go to every corner of the globe, there is no terrain that I don’t visit. Some of the places that I visit include: Uganda, New Zealand, Argentina and North America. I also visit Antarctica and The Arctic.
What kind of animals do you come across on your travels?
I meet a real mix of animals, some that everyone will have heard of and other lesser-known animals that I hadn’t heard of before. There are tigers, elephants and monkeys that most people will have seen before but won’t necessarily have seen in the wild. Then there’s another episode about a strawberry poisonous dart frog where I shrink down to the size of the frog!
Tell us about Andy’s friend, Kip the cat.
Kip the cat is the Grommit to my Wallace! She’s my side-kick and she’s a very smart, cool cat. She’s the inventor and she comes up with some great inventions. There is a different invention in every episode – things like Kip’s Really Rapid Rocket Shoes, which allow me to race the elephant shrew in Africa, or there’s a Super Dooper Vacuum Cooler, which I use when I go and meet the elephants and get dust all over me.
And they travel around the world in a Kipmobile – what is that and how does it work?
At the start of every show Andy travels around the animal park on a buggy and that buggy is transformed into the Kipmobile. It has been designed by Kip and is a flying buggy with lots of cool gadgets – things like the Big Dipper, Upside Down Flipper which is a button that turns the Kipmobile upside down and comes in very handy when we meet the bats!
Kip is the navigator and she uses her catnav to help us find our way around the world but she doesn’t ever leave the Kipmobile when we go on our adventures.
How was it filming using the green screen?
It was a bit weird because obviously there’s nothing around you so you have to use your imagination a lot more as every location is so different. It was a real challenge at first but a good challenge and I enjoyed it. You can see the footage on the screen though which helps and sometimes they would put the wind machine on to make it feel like we are flying through the air!
There’s one episode about the Japanese macaques who bathe in hot springs in Japan. I’m filmed with the green screen getting into some water and it looks like I am actually there in the springs with them. It looks fantastic.
The series features lots of interesting facts about the animals that you meet – what have you learnt so far?
I have learnt so much. One episode is all about grass-cutter ants and I thought that when they cut the grass or the leaves that they ate them. But they don’t, instead the leaves are used to create fungus gardens and the ants then eat the fungus. I also learnt about monarch butterflies, which are absolutely beautiful. They travel 2000 miles to Mexico for the winter to hibernate where they stay there for about four months.
How have you managed to juggle filming Andy’s Wild Adventures with your “day job” presenting the links on CBeebies?
It has been full on but it has been so much fun. I’m really lucky because there is such a good team involved. There are times which can be hard when I have been covered in various things including mud, water, cocoa powder, fungus, snow, and you have to keep changing your clothes but you have to do it and it’s worth it in the end.
Would you like to do more actual children’s programmes in the future?
Definitely, this series has given me a real interest for wildlife. We will see how popular the series is, there’s so much scope for us to feature other creatures in the future.