Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tragedy as TV's Wild At Heart giraffe Hamley is killed by bolt of lightning


Tragedy: Seven-year-old giraffe Hamley with Stephen Tompkinson on the set of TV drama Wild At Heart

The stars of ITV drama Wild At Heart were last night mourning one of their beloved animals, Hamley the giraffe, who died after being struck by lightning.

The seven-year-old animal was killed instantly on Friday during a violent storm on the South African game reserve where the cast films the hit series.

Stephen Tompkinson, who plays vet Danny Trevanion in the series, said: ‘Hamley was the most unique of all animals and that is why we have worked so closely and why we have featured him so heavily in the series.

‘He will be missed every day on the farm as he had such a presence. I hope that, as always, he will continue to look down on us.’

Scottish actress Dawn Steele, 34, who plays the vet’s wife Alice, said: ‘Everyone is so sad here, Hamley was a huge part of the show. We still all cannot believe that he will not be wandering around set, trying to get into the make-up truck or trying to get into every scene he could!

‘I cannot express how he will be missed on Wild At Heart. He was like another actor... only taller!

‘He touched everyone’s lives, even visitors and family who joined us on set knew of the amazing Hamley. I am only glad that in his short life he left so many memories. It will not be, and is not, the same without him.’

Hamley with 'make up' neck injury with Dawn Steele. Cast and crew are said to be heartbroken following his sudden death

Elias Fono, a game ranger at the Glen Afric reserve where the series is filmed, said Hamley was roaming in a field at the private park when a thunderstorm swept in at around 5.30pm on Friday.

‘The storm was very heavy and the rain was terrible,’ he said.

‘I was on a game drive with some guests and they had asked to see Hamley because he is famous. We were driving to where he would be when the storm came right over our heads.

‘When we got there he was lying on the ground and I knew something was wrong.
‘I took the guests away and others went to see what had happened, but unfortunately nothing could be done to save him.

‘It has shocked everyone who knew Hamley. He was one of the biggest stars and his death has left a big hole. Nobody can believe what has happened.

Co-stars: Amanda Holden with a giraffe on the set
‘All of the Wild At Heart staff and everyone at Glen Afric are very upset about the tragedy.’

Officials said Hamley would be buried at the reserve, which lies in Broederstroom, around 20 miles north of Johannesburg.

The giraffe was one of several animals which appeared on the popular series, which follows the experiences of a British vet – played by 45-year-old Tompkinson – and his family after they move from Bristol to start a game farm in South Africa. In the earlier series his wife was played by Amanda Holden.

Speaking about Hamley, Tompkinson said in August: ‘Filming Wild At Heart for six years has definitely given me a love of nature.

‘Everything is special; the air, soil, and seeing incredible animals in their own environment is an absolute treat.

‘My daughter, Daisy, has grown up with the animals and knows them all by name.
‘One giraffe, Hamley, has almost become part of the family and is often found in the make-up trailer.’

The programme was first broadcast in 2006. A sixth ten-part series is currently being filmed and is due to be broadcast in the new year.

source :dailymail

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