Natasha Hoyland spends some surprising time at sea with one of her underrated childhood heroes from Hi-5.
If I went back in time and told six year-old me that she’d one day be witnessing a sweaty Nathan Foley from Hi-5 rip his shirt open whilst singing Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’, she would’ve shaken her head. But that is exactly what happened to me earlier this year.
In January I flew to Melbourne before boarding a cruise that would take me back to Auckland. Whilst channel surfing in my hotel room, I came across that travel TV show Getaway. Hi-5 alumni Charli Robinson was one of the presenters, waddling around with some penguins. Not much had changed for her, I thought.
I wondered what had happened to the rest of the colourful Australian ensemble of my youth, but only very briefly. Being on holiday, Hi-5’s original five were the last thing I wanted to think about. I turned the TV off and headed off to do tourist things like visiting the aquarium, spending $23 on candy and crying over Delta Goodrem’s performance in Cats.
Hi-5 never once came back into my thoughts, which was just the way things should’ve been. Until I got on the cruise.
When most people think of a cruise, they imagine a very huge expensive boat laden with very rich, very old people. That is, for the most part, correct. This cruise was the third that I had taken with my dad (who is absolutely obsessed with them), so I had learned to adapt to my new fellow peers. They were mostly 60 year-olds who passionately argued about The Sopranos over dinner and danced to Neil Diamond afterwards in the club. The food is the absolute best part.
Cruise happy hour was from 11pm-12am in the cruise club called “Skywalkers” which featured rip-off art work that is a mixture of Star Wars, Star Trek and abstract art. During happy hour it’s ‘buy one get one for $1’ so I was always there to rack up any $1 drinks that anyone didn’t want.
One night I almost dropped both my peach margaritas when ‘Come On Eileen’ started playing. I dragged myself onto the dancefloor among the pensioners who had been confused by the Justin Bieber remix that was playing prior. I should mention at this point that the club tunes on the Golden Princess are courtesy of “DJ IV Real”.
That’s when I saw them, two people on another part of the dance floor who were in another world altogether. One was a lady in her 50’s with a bowl cut, looking like her soul was ascending to the heavens. The other was a friendly looking guy, he was in his 30’s with curly hair and an outfit that gave me the impression he was a big fan of soft jazz. Both were curving it up on the dance floor, and I joined them. We eventually parted ways.
Another night at dinner, a man spoke of an amazing musician who played in one of the cruise shows, and how he had done amazing covers of great songs. One that really stuck with him was the cover of Les Miserables classic ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’.
I asked for the name of the guy. He couldn’t remember but knew that I’d “probably recognise him from my childhood.” Heading back to my room, I picked up a list of all the daily events happening on the ship. Under the ‘Showtime’ section I saw the name Nathan Foley. That’s when I realised that my third favourite member of Hi-5 was aboard the same boat as me.
I remembered a few nights before, watching the curly-haired guy in the club with the good dance moves. The guy that I’d walked past in the hallway multiple times and didn’t take any notice of. The guy that I’d accidentally sat at the same dinner table as. I had shared all these beautiful moments with Nathan from Hi-5 and I wasn’t aware of any of them.
I rushed to the theatre two hours early to get a good seat. The thought of Nathan covering Les Mis songs sounded simultaneously delightful and agonising and I wasn’t going to miss a moment of it.
For any of you wondering – the man’s still got it. He is a PERFORMER. I was bewildered the entire performance, from his cover of Frankie Valli’s ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ to an insane rendition of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ in which he physically abused a piano and still managed to make beautiful music. He’s nominated for Cruise Entertainer of the Year, which I think he has a huge shot at winning.
I came to realise that Nathan was the underrated hero of the magical Hi-5 era after re-watching season one of Hi-5 in it’s entirety. On close inspection, Nathan is the only member who is really giving it his all, with Kathleen coming in at second place. Charli – who seems to be everyone’s favourite – just ripped off everyone else’s ideas. Kellie lacked charisma. Tim couldn’t sing or dance. Nathan was putting it all on the line. A brief peruse of his Facebook page will show you just how much passion burns within him.
The conclusion to this thrilling tale? I proposed to Nathan that we form a duo called Hi-2, an offer which he was underwhelmed and slightly uninterested by. He’s yet to reply to a single one of my emails.
EPILOGUE: WHERE ARE THE REST OF HI 5?
Charli Robinson (FKA Charli Delaney):
Charli was the favourite of 99% of the people who watched the show. She appeared on the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars in 2008 and went on to do a bunch of TV presenting. Charli is currently the host of Sea FM, a radio show on the Gold Coast.
Kathleen de Leon Jones (FKA Kathleen de Leon Jones):
Kathleen was the first member to leave Hi-5 because she wanted to focus on raising her children with that one guy from Savage Garden. She was also a contestant on Celebrity Masterchef in 2009. God knows where she is now. Whatever a Savage Garden is, that’s probably where she is – she seems to be good at dealing with savages (re: Jup Jup).
Kellie Crawford (FKA Kellie Hoggart):
Before I even knew what shipping was, little child me shipped Charli with Tim and Nathan with Kathleen. When I heard the news about Kellie and fellow co-star Nathan Foley, the concept of them being together was alien to me. They eventually got engaged but later split up. Kellie currently works at a Catholic school in Sydney.
In 2007, Hi-5 was touring the Hi-5 Circus Stage show tour when Tim got into a motorbike accident leaving him with injuries that made him unable to perform on the tour. While recovering from the accident, he started his own production company Obsidion Productions, which yielded little evidence online apart from a Halo fanfic. He starred in a Michael Jackson tribute act MJ Timeless in the UK in 2009 and broke a world record in 2010 for having the “most number of backup dancers to a singer” for some reason.
This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.