TV

We Watched ‘Round The Twist’ With Two Of The Original Bronsons And It Was Ridiculously Fun

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The aren’t too many TV shows that evoke the immediate, hysterical response from an entire generation as Round The Twist. Every Australian millennial knows the theme song off by heart  and we all have a favourite episode (the one where Pete gets cursed and has to end every sentence with “without my pants”, obviously).

When we were putting together the program for Video Junkee, our new festival all about creating and loving great video, it seemed obvious that we needed some kind of ode to Round The Twist. 

So we decided to bring together two of the stars of the show, Jeffrey Walker (who played Bronson in season two) and Matthew Waters (Bronson in seasons three and four), for a live screening of Round The Twist and a bit of a conversation about what it was like working on something so iconic.

Watching Round The Twist With The Bronsons

The sold-out screening, held at Sydney’s Golden Age theatre, was moderated by Sydney Story Factory’s Matt Roden. The first part of the event consisted of a screening of two episodes, one each from seasons two and three, with live commentary from Walker, Waters and Roden, followed up with a Q&A session and a bit of trivia.

Despite the fact that the show ran over 12 years, between 1989 and 2001, there were only four seasons produced. The big gaps between seasons were the main reason the shows cast kept changing due to the availability of actors and, particularly in relation to the Bronsons, the fact that the child actors kept growing up.

The first episode we watched was season two’s ‘Little Squirt’, based on a short story by Paul Jennings. The episode opens with a literal pissing contest at the school urinal. Bronson (played by Walker) has a crack at the pissing contest but his stream is, sadly, too weak and mediocre compared to the older kids.

I have to admit, it was pretty surreal watching Walker piss on screen, while he was sitting a metre away giving live commentary 15 years after the episode was shot. A significant part of the commentary on this episode revolved around pissing, which was entirely appropriate in my view. Waters shared the fact that after the episode came out he and his school friends attempted to recreate the pissing contest, which ended with him accidentally pissing on someone’s leg.

“I was as dumb as Bronson, I did the same stupid shit as Bronson,” Waters explained.

It was interesting watching the episode as an adult because it turns out there was a lot more going on than just teenagers pissing on each other. The actual plot revolves around a proposed dam and a water spirit who isn’t too keen on the idea. The water spirit ends up teaming up with the Twist kids to stop the dam and save the day. As a reward it helps Bronson win the pissing contest, Yay, Bronson!

What a piss!!

A fun bit of trivia about this episode, thanks to Walker: it features Marzena Godecki, credited as a character called ‘Beautiful Girl’. Walker went on to star in Ocean Girl alongside Godecki two years later.

What a golden age for Australian television.

Prince Harry Loves Round The Twist 

The second episode was season three’s ‘The Nirandathal Beast’. In this one Bronson uses a cursed razor (???) and as a result ends up growing an enormous beard. The town loses its collective shit and starts hunting the incredibly hairy Bronson, this time played by Waters.

Waters told a wonderful story about the Queen, along with Prince Harry and Prince William, visiting the set of Round of Twist. Which is both kinda cool and very weird when you remember one of the show’s episodes involved Bronson’s dick turning into a propellor and giving him the ability to swim super fast.

Years later when Waters was running an exclusive bar in London, he actually ran into Prince Harry, and asked him if he remembered the little red-haired kid who signed a boxset of Round The Twist VHS tapes. Turns out Harry did! What a moment. Talk about going Round The Twist. 

They Just Don’t Make Shows Like This Anymore

The 90s were an absolute golden age of Australian kids shows. One of the things that stands out most about Round The Twist, particularly on a rewatch, is how impressive the direction and production values were, especially for a show aimed at younger audiences. The visual effects were bold and impressive for the era and the storylines were… wild. It’s hard to think of anything that comes close.

Both Waters and Walker, who now work behind the scenes, were full of praise for the show’s production and the way it was able to take risks.

Round The Twist’s legacy and ongoing cultural impact was highlighted not just by the fact the theatre was packed out but that the event drew together such a wide range of people, from the show’s original commissioning producer to a fan who knew every single thing about the show and demolished the Bronsons in a lightning trivia round.

The night was also a reminder that millennials have bloody excellent taste in culture. It also inspired me to try and convince my editors that we should be start a series recapping every episode of Round of Twist. Trust me, they are a thousand times more weird, and even better, than you remember.