You'd be hard-pressed to find a Sandgroper who hasn't grumbled about WA's supposed lack of history and culture. But British actor and comedian Tony Robinson says there's more to our story than many may realise.
The Brit, best known for his role as Baldrick in the BBC television series Blackadder, makes his first stop in Fremantle as part of the History Channel's new series Tony Robinson's Time Walks.
"One thing that became really evident to me when making the series was that an awful lot of people in Australia don't think they've got an awful lot of history," he says in his familiar excited tone over the phone from Spain where he is on holiday with his wife, Louise.
"The number of people who said to me 'Why are you bothering to do a history series out here when you've got the Tudors and the Stuarts and the Victorians and Georgians? We don't have that kind of thing.' And I knew that wasn't true. I thought it would be great to show people that their own backyard was as full of history as Hampton Court and Westminster."
Last year, the amateur historian and political activist travelled to Australia for the hugely popular Tony Robinson Explores Australia which became the History Channel's highest-rating series.
His new 10-part voyage will uncover the hidden history that lies behind, below and above the places Australians walk every day in Fremantle, Hobart, Bendigo, Newcastle, Carlton, Brisbane, St Kilda, Woolloomooloo and Adelaide.
"We thought what would be great would just be to do a walk, a couple of kilometres across a town or a city and see what stories there were to tell," he said.
His walk around Fremantle takes in a number of historic sites including the oldest surviving building in WA - the Roundhouse - the cappuccino strip and Fremantle Prison.
"Freo I think has got such a fantastic history and it's where WA really started so I wanted to tell the story of the birth of WA," he says.
"There's so much of a story to tell in Perth. I'm hoping to do a second or maybe third series and I think I would like to do at least two more in Perth. And, of course, all the smaller towns dotted around WA. There's plenty to do, but Freo seemed appropriate as a first one."
Robinson became infatuated with Australia early in his career and estimates he has visited the country more than nine times.
"I first came out there when I was a young actor," he explains, recalling the encounter.
"There was an actor called Keith Michell who came over to England and became a huge hit playing Henry VIII and he did sort of a triumphant return to Australia touring round," he explains.
"I fell in love and have been coming back regularly ever since."Tony Robinson's Time Walks airs on Monday at 5.30pm on History Channel.
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