Bronson #3 Tells Us Everything We Ever Wanted To Know About Round The Twist
If you grew up in Australia in the '90s or early '00s, chances are your young mind was warped by a surreal exercise in children’s television: the utterly bonkers Round The Twist.
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If you grew up in Australia in the ’90s or early ’00s, chances are your young mind was warped by a surreal exercise in children’s television: the utterly bonkers Round The Twist.
Based on the novels of the wildly imaginative Paul Jennings, Round The Twist first aired in 1989 with a very catchy theme song. Four seasons were made over 12 years, focused on the eccentric adventures of the lovable Twist family: single dad Tony, and his kids, Pete, Linda, and Bronson, all of whom lived in a haunted lighthouse (as you do).
But through a ridiculous number of cast changes and long gaps in production, there was one constant: the show’s unapologetically bizarre plotlines. Round The Twist was pretty bloody weird – especially when you consider the fact that it was developed by the taxpayer-funded Australian Children’s Television Foundation and screened on our national broadcaster.
If it wasn’t Pete getting impregnated by a dryad after weeing on a tree, it was Linda falling in love with a boy who turned into merman… not to mention the liberal sprinkling of seagull poo, necromancy and nightmare-inducing scarecrows throughout the series. And who could forget ‘Whirling Derfish’, in which Bronson swallowed a rare fish that turned his penis into a propeller? (Yep, that happened on children’s TV.)
Ahead of a Round The Twist screening at our inaugural Video Junkee festival, we caught up with Matthew Waters (AKA Bronson number three) to talk all things weird, wonderful, and ‘Whirling Derfish’.
Junkee: I grew up in the ’90s and Round The Twist was a huge part of my childhood. What impact did starring in the show have on your life?
Matthew Waters: I was born in 1989, so when I was growing up Round The Twist was on TV and Jeffrey Walker was playing Bronson. I was in shock that I got even the opportunity to audition for it. It was awesome.
Did you realise as a child how weird the show was? I’ve gone back and watched some episodes and they’re crazy!
I think being that young it’s not that I didn’t understand, but I was just a crazy little kid. I didn’t have to do much to be that character. I was that little kid who used to go out and eat worms and just have smelly feet and all that kind of stuff. I just fit Bronson to a tee I guess, when I was auditioning for it.
Have you rewatched the series as an adult?
I watched a few episodes of it when I was living in the UK. When I made new friends and we’d have barbecues, people were like, “Oh, put it on. We want to see it.” We’d reminisce about things. Every time I meet somebody, they always bring up the whirling willy episode.
That episode – ‘Whirling Derfish’– seems to be the one that stuck in everyone’s heads.
Yeah, that’s always a talking point. Obviously, I didn’t really comprehend it when I was 10 years old. Looking back on it now I think, “Oh, wow. That’s quite a thing to put in for a child.” It was awesome.
Is that your favourite episode?
Definitely. ‘Whirling Derfish’ was my big episode in series three that everyone remembers, and then there was ‘Skunkman’, where I got to become a superhero who didn’t get affected by bad smells. If I remember correctly, in series four, I had a meeting with the writers and producers – they kind of got ideas from us about what would be fun and what we’d like to do in the show. I said to them that I wanted to have a girlfriend on screen, so they wrote that in for me in ‘Skunkman’.
More than two decades on, people seem to have a real connection to the show. What’s your experience been like with the fans?
It’s amazing to see that people are still talking about it and still remember it vividly. I think it was a massive part of a lot of people’s childhoods –it was one of the biggest children’s TV series to leave Australia. It went to 70-something countries.
I still get messages from people on social media every day. It’s always positive, which is awesome.
Playing Bronson was definitely one of the best jobs I’ve had, and I’ll always have a soft spot for Round The Twist. It definitely set me on the career path to being an actor. I’m very grateful for it.
At Video Junkee we’re doing a screening of the show and putting you onstage with Bronson number two, Jeffrey Walker. What were your thoughts on the other two Bronsons when you were a kid?
Well, I never watched series one. I did watch Jeffrey in the show, and in Thunderstone and Ocean Girl as well. Growing up I thought, “I want to be an actor like Jeffrey Walker one day”. Watching Jeffrey definitely gave me an idea of how Bronson should be. I just tried to keep it as true as possible, but I didn’t really have to do much – I was pretty gross as a kid.
There are a lot of TV remakes happening at the moment. Would you be open to a Round The Twist remake?
I would be there in a flash if there was a Round The Twist remake. I think it would be really well received by audiences, especially here in Australia.
There was never anything else like it.
Don’t be a total dipstick. Grab a ticket to Video Junkee’s Round The Twist screening at Golden Age cinema this July, where Bronsons #2 and #3, Jeffrey Walker and Matt Waters, will be providing live commentary. Find out more here.