Ok kids. Time to hand over your phone and your watch and put on these old-fashioned clothes. You’re about to be put to the test in ABC ME’s Are You Tougher Than Your Ancestors?
Like a reality show for kids, this new series puts kids into a time warp Back in Time for Dinner-style to learn what kids endured in different eras through Australian history.
Escorting them is Ghenoa Gela, nicknamed “G,” who previously hosted dance series Move it Mob Style for NITV. In her funky dreadlocks, cap and sneakers she has an instant rapport with her young cast, without ever speaking down to them.
In the first episode go-karters Jack (13) and Makayla (11) will retrace the steps of Robert Richards, a 13 year old miner who in 1898 worked full time, attended night school, did chores at home and raced billy carts.
In Moonta, South Australia Jack and Makayla try their hand at being a “Pickey Boy” and “Pickey Girl,” sorting rocks manually for a copper mine. They muck into the dirty work, although Makayla says of her period costume, “I’m not really a dress girl.”
Next up, is night school for a spelling bee, then it’s on to a three roomed cottage with no running water where they must wash clothes with an old washboard and even empty a family chamber pot. Gross.
Cheeky “G” is embedded into each scenario, bringing a touch of humour and relatability around how extreme some of the tasks are for the young audience.
Finally it’s a billy cart race, complete with actual billy goats pulling their carts (ok, even I didn’t know that was the true derivation). Forget the education, our kids find this sequence the most fun.
Along the way there are several history experts to introduce or role-play in each scenario, with one so new at this acting thing they are obviously very authentic at the history.
Subsequent episodes will include kid history lessons on Olympic swimming, long treks to sell at the Adelaide markets, camel trains through the desert, a champion rollerskater, sailing skills, Kaurna Parntu football, a milk delivery run, the Bendigo Easter Festival and Lennie Gwyther’s epic 1932 solo ride from Leongatha to Sydney for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (seriously, how is this tale not a feature film?).
What’s nice about the choices is the diversity of cultures and locations and that each entails origin endurance by children -it isn’t kids re-enacting adult tasks. Child labor laws probably prevent the tasks actually replicating the marathon time originally undertaken, but no matter, the endurance is driven home.
“G” is a beaut tour guide for this bright series by Sticky Pictures / Flying Kite Pictures that cleverly re-enacts Aussie history for a young audience.
Are You Tougher Than Your Ancestors? 6:30pm weeknights on ABC ME.