Dr Chris Brown stars in the TV series Bondi Vet. Supplied by Channel 10.
Dr Chris Brown stars in the TV series Bondi Vet. Supplied by Channel 10.

A vet walks into a bar...

IF YOU were in Noosa recently chances are you might have seen Dr Chris Brown catching a wave.

On this occasion, the Bondi Vet and television heart-throb was visiting the area to film for The Living Room.

We caught up with him to about his career as a veterinarian and a television personality.

Why did you want to become a vet?

As a kid I was surrounded by animals. My dad is a vet and he was the local vet for our suburb so I was always totally immersed in whatever animal we had at the time. We had some very strange animals, we had kangaroos, koalas, cows, sheep, horses, chickens; this is all in the suburbs of Newcastle. At one time for six months we had a penguin that I had to look after and it used to swim in the pool with me.

It was an amazing way to grow up, but all the while I remember saying to people that I wasn't going to become a vet because that was what dad did and I wanted to find my own path. Then I got to 17 and it was all I really wanted to do so I decided to put that out of my mind and just do what dad did. It's been a good decision for a number of reasons, and most notably the fact that dad and I can disagree on every single case that ever comes through the vet clinic doors.

So does your dad see himself as a consultant?

He calls himself the old bull and he always reminds me "you know what happens to the old bull and the young bull", and we've been butting heads for a number of years. It's all in good fun and he will quite often after seeing an episode of Bondi Vet ring me up and say "I saw what you did with that bird, err, I wouldn't have done it that way", and there's nothing wrong with the way I've done it, but he just likes to remind me of the way he likes to do things.

What is the most memorable case you have worked on?

It's usually the very abnormal ones. I operated on a lion a few years ago in South Africa which was very memorable mainly because we were out in the field and there was no way of measuring and assessing how deep the anaesthetic is. It was to remove a tumour off its lip, so I spent an hour lying down face to face with its head; I've got a big head but this was a lot bigger, and I had to operate basically nose to nose with a lion that could have woken up at any time so that was pretty amazing.

I've operated on a goldfish, so from the very big to the very small, but that was one of the most rewarding operations I've ever done. It was a pet goldfish.

You have to get them out of the water and so you put the anaesthetic in the water initially, which sends them to sleep. Then you get them out of the tank and provided you are running water with air in it over their gills they can breathe, but you are also running anaesthetic in that water as well so you can keep them asleep, so that whole operation is done on the operating table.

And then we had one, a few months ago, which was a beak transplant on a cormorant so that was special.

How did you get into television?

I never set out to be a TV vet or a person on television. I was working in a vet clinic and was in a pub on a Friday night and I was telling funny vet stories to a few mates at the bar and got overheard by a talent media manager person who thought I was making up being a vet to impress the girl who was there and they had a joke with me and said "what do you really do?" And I said "I'm a vet".

He came up to me later on in the night and wanted to talk to me about an idea he had and there were no younger male vets in the media and it was all sort of Dr Harry and a different generation, so he wanted to, I guess, have a younger voice out there and that was where it all came from.

What advice would you have for people wanting to work in the animal care industry?

It's an industry that is built around passion. It asks a lot of you and asks a lot of your time. It often doesn't pay incredibly well and it asks a lot of you emotionally as well because you have to go through some sad times and every so often you get the really beautiful rewards as well. So you just have to be totally committed to it and realise you are making a difference and just get your rewards not from money but from the feeling of making a difference and that's always been my motivator for doing what I do. You enjoy it and you love it and you get a reward for doing it and that reward is feeling that you've had an impact on its life.

What do you enjoy most about being on The Living Room?

It's hanging out with the other three guys. We're all incredibly close and we're all different people but we have become this very tight unit that just genuinely enjoys each other's company and we look forward to catching up if that's in studio for The Living Room, or if that's at Amanda's house for dinner, or if that's with Miguel on one of his crazy cooking adventures then that's just how it is.

We're, you know, it's probably a term that gets overused, but we are a family. We each bring something different to the table but we are all united in the same cause which is to provide a fun enjoyable show where people hopefully have a fun Friday night. We see ourselves as the guilt-free reason to stay in on a Friday night. If you don't end up out on a Friday night having a bottle of wine, then you can stay in and watch The Living Room and have a good time, and you don't have to make an excuse for it.

Where do you find the items for Hot or Not?

Anywhere and everywhere, we're always looking. We get people on the street stop us with suggestions. We will be out in the shops and see something that is ridiculous or useful, usually ridiculous. Because I travel a lot I'm fortunate in the way I come across more strange things than most and Amanda's got a great eye for them. She can often spot a Hot or Not item from a mile off, so she will quite often handball them to us.

You have a gut feeling how it's going to go. I enjoy my Nots more than my Hots to be honest. I'd much rather have an absolute stinker and try my best to convince people it is actually useful than something that is really actually a great product.

What will you be doing while in Queensland?

We're going to be doing some surfing as well, whether that's for the show or if that's for my own personal happiness I'm not sure yet. I want to go and check out Double Island Point, which I've never surfed before and I was going to drop in on a few people at the national park "Tony Abbott" style.



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