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EXCLUSIVE: Marc Fennell talks racism and how the pandemic helped him bond with his kids: “I promised myself I’d never cry”

''I think that stuff really matters.''

By Helen Vnuk
Marc Fennell has appeared on a lot of TV shows over the past couple of years, from Mastermind to The Feed to The Project. But nothing was more exciting for him and his two kids than his guest role on Bluey.
The role came about when Marc was interviewing the show's creator, Joe Brumm, for a podcast.
"I joked that I had no career aspirations beyond being a voice on Bluey," Marc tells TV WEEK from his home in Sydney. "He's like, 'Oh, you're in a studio now. Can you just say, "Yes?" and then can you email the audio?'"
Marc Fennell has appeared on a lot of TV shows over the past couple of years, from Mastermind to The Feed to The Project. (SBS)
Months later, Marc's "Yes?" was heard coming from the boss of Alfie (Robert Irwin) at the toy shop.
"A one-word cameo on Bluey and my name in the credits? Put a fork in me, I'm done!"
Marc, 36, does seem to have been popping up everywhere recently – and now, he's now got a new four-part doco, Framed, about the theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1986. But when he was growing up, with his Singaporean-Indian-Irish-Australian heritage, he didn't see anybody that looked like him on Australian TV.
"It can be quite devastating," he says. "At its core, it's basically saying to you, 'You're not welcome in this outside world.' But that has shifted massively, massively.
"It's incredibly powerful to see Waleed Aly win a TV WEEK Gold Logie. I think that stuff really matters."
Earlier this year, he fronted the ground-breaking three-part doco The School That Tried To End Racism. (Instagram)
As a teenager, Marc started at community radio station FBi. That's where he met his future wife, Madeleine Genner, who's now a journalist at the ABC.
"She was the arts reviewer and I was the movie reviewer," he explains.
In his first year at uni, Marc then 18, was chosen as one of the hosts of The Movie Show on SBS, replacing Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton when they moved to the ABC.
"I was probably very annoying when I think about it," he says. "I'm obviously very grateful because it did change my life, but I wouldn't say it was the easiest job in the world because I just didn't know what I was doing."
The Movie Show was canned two years later.
"I remember being axed a couple of days before I turned 21, and I remember just deciding, 'Okay, if I'm going to make things for a living, I actually need to have multiple things at once.'"
That way of thinking has got Marc to where he is now. Earlier this year, he fronted the ground-breaking three-part doco The School That Tried To End Racism.
"I've always promised myself I'd never cry on camera, but of course, the kids… I'm in tears."
The feedback he got to the series was "overwhelmingly positive".
"There was a real concern that there'd be haters, but from my standpoint, that never really materialised. I take that as a really encouraging point."
In between working on his different shows, Marc also spent time this year home-schooling his kids, Max, seven, and Sophie, five.
He's now got a new four-part doco, Framed, about the theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1986. (SBS)
"I've learnt I'm not a gifted teacher. Towards the end my mother-in-law came and did some work with them, and my wife and I watched from afar, and my son would do it all for her. On the one hand it would be like, 'It's great, he's learning,' on the other hand, it would be like, 'He didn't do it for us, though.'"
But Marc thinks there's been a positive to come out of working from home with his kids around – having them see him do his job.
"Max was the first person to watch Framed. Max and Sophie have extremely well-developed theories as to who did the crime. They were literally sitting here going, 'It was that guy.'
"I like that it's a house where creativity is shared. It doesn't feel like my job is a separate thing to their life, which I think it has in the past. Maybe lockdown was good for that."
In between working on his different shows, Marc also spent time this year home-schooling his kids, Max, seven, and Sophie, five. (Instagram)

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