Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

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Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
Skippy-dvd.jpg
UK DVD cover
Also known asSkippy
GenreChildren/Family
Adventure/Drama
Created byLee Robinson
Written byRoss Napier
Directed by
Starring
Theme music composerEric Jupp
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes91 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)John McCallum, Lionel (Bob) Austin
Producer(s)
Production location(s)
Running time25 minutes
Production company(s)Fauna Productions
Release
Original networkNine Network
Audio formatMonaural
First shown inAustralia
Original release5 February 1968[1] – 4 May 1970[2]
Chronology
Related showsThe Adventures of Skippy

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (known commonly as Skippy) is an Australian television series created by Australian actor John McCallum, Lionel (Bob) Austin and Lee Robinson produced from 1967–1969 (airing from 1968–1970) about the adventures of a young boy and his highly intelligent pet kangaroo, and the various visitors to the fictional Waratah National Park in Duffys Forest, near Sydney.[3][4]

Ninety-one 30-minute episodes were produced.[2] Additionally, a full-length movie titled Skippy and The Intruders was released to theatres in 1969.[4]

Plot and setting[edit]

The show's star was Skippy, a female eastern grey kangaroo befriended by Sonny Hammond, younger son of the Head Ranger of Waratah National Park. The stories revolved around events in the park, including its animals, the dangers arising from natural hazards, and the actions of visitors. The boy's mother is said (in Episode 48 "The Mine") to have died shortly after Sonny was born.

The series was often characterized as a kangaroo version of Flipper or Lassie.[5]

Production[edit]

The series was shot in northern Sydney at the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the adjacent Waratah Park (now known as Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary). Permission to film and build structures in the park was given by the then NSW Minister for Lands, Tom Lewis, before shooting of the series began in 1967, to showcase the new NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service government department he had just established.

The clicking sounds made by Skippy are vocal sound effects, rather than the natural vocalisations of a kangaroo, with chocolate, chewing gum or grass and in some cases, an elastic band around the lower jaw, used to make Skippy move her mouth. Between nine and fifteen kangaroos were used for each show. The apparent manual dexterity was often achieved by using separate arms in the hands of human operators.

Cast[edit]

The main characters were:

  • Ed Devereaux as Matt Hammond, the Head Ranger of Waratah National Park
  • Garry Pankhurst as Sonny Hammond, Matt's younger son
  • Ken James as Mark Hammond, Matt's elder son
  • Tony Bonner as Jerry King (episodes 1-78), flight ranger (helicopter pilot)
  • Liza Goddard as Clarissa 'Clancy' Merrick (episodes 9-75), the teenage daughter of a ranger stationed at another section of the park. When her father is transferred to a park in northern New South Wales, Matt invites Clancy to stay with the Hammond family so that her music studies are not disrupted by the move north. She leaves the series when her character is awarded a musical scholarship to study in London.
  • John Warwick as Sir Adrian Gillespie, Head of the NSW National Parks Board
  • Elke Neidhardt as Dr. Anna Steiner, a German doctor and playing a support role only in season one.
  • Morgan Brain as Sgt. Bernard Gillies[2]
  • Skippy was played by at least nine different kangaroos[6]

Episodes[edit]

Broadcast History[edit]

Domestic[edit]

The show was produced for global distribution and filmed in colour. It premiered outside of Australia. The domestic premiere in Sydney (on TCN-9) and Melbourne (GTV-9)[7] was Monday evening, February 5, 1968.

The Nine Network readily repeated the series several times after Australian television switched to colour transmission in 1975. In 2009, the Nine Network began to rerun the series in a graveyard slot in the early hours of the morning.[8]

In 2013, 9Gem started showing Skippy at 6:30am.

International[edit]

The Australian series was one of the most heavily exported programs. It was broadcast in all Commonwealth countries, including in Canada where it was adapted in Quebec for the Standard French market as Skippy le kangourou.

It was dubbed into Spanish in Mexico, where it is known as Skippy el canguro, and has been seen in most Spanish-speaking countries, including Cuba and Spain, where it became very popular. In Latín América, the show was broadcast on free TV in 1970s, and on pay TV (Cable, Satellite and IPTV) vía Sundance Channel (Channel 520 of DIRECTV).

It was shown in the Netherlands, where it was first screened between 1969 and 1972. In Germany, it was known as Skippy, das Buschkänguruh, while in Italy was known as Skyppy il canguro and broadcast by Rai television. The show was popular in Scandinavia, indeed in Norway a chain of shopping centres were named in honour of the program. But the series was banned in Sweden because its psychiatrists believed that "a child growing up alone without interacting with other children would be counterproductive in his upbringing."[9] The series crossed the Iron Curtain and was aired in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

The series was also widely distributed in Ghana where is aired weekly on the GBC. The series was also broadcast in Iran.[4]

When it was transmitted in the United States, Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo was largely shown as weekend-morning children's television.[citation needed]

The Adventures of Skippy[edit]

The Adventures of Skippy
StarringAndrew Clarke
Simon James
Katie McNeil
Fiona Shannon
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes39
Production
Running time30 mins
Release
Original networkNine Network
Original release1992

The series was revived in 1992 as the short-lived The Adventures of Skippy. This revival series focused on the now adult Sonny Hammond (played by Andrew Clarke) – having followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a ranger at a wildlife park – who now had his own family and a pet kangaroo named Skippy.[4][10]

This version also aired on Animal Planet in 1997, and is currently airing in the U.S. on TBN's Smile of a Child TV children's network.[11]

The complete series of 39 episodes has been released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment. [12]

Later history[edit]

In 1998, an animated spinoff series was produced. Titled Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown, it featured the anthropomorphic kangaroo Skippy (loosely based on Skippy from the original series) as a park ranger.

In 1999, Skippy starred in advertisements for the chocolate confectionery Rolo Cookies.[13]

In September 2008, actor Tony Bonner sued the production company seeking residuals from merchandising and DVD sales from the series.

On 17 September 2009, a documentary Skippy: Australia's First Superstar was broadcast on the ABC in Australia and the BBC in the UK. The documentary was produced by Western Australian-based documentary production company Electric Pictures.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

The original series was parodied in a recurring sketch as part of the British comedy series Goodness Gracious Me under the title "Skipinder, the Punjabi Kangaroo": the parody redubbed scenes from the original Skippy. The show was also parodied in the 1989 - 1992 Australian sketch comedy TV show, Fast Forward. [15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Musgrove, Nan (February 7, 1968). "SKIPPY" IS COMING HOME". The Australian Women's Weekly. p. 14. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Skippy timeline – Classic Australian TV.com
  3. ^ "John McCallum's Bon Bon", The Age, 12 January 1968 accessed 27 March 2014
  4. ^ a b c d Skippy – Classic Australian TV.com
  5. ^ "TCN9's new show lineup". The Sydney Morning Herald. January 28, 1968. p. 61. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  6. ^ As quoted on DVD 1, Making of Special extra
  7. ^ "John MaCallum's bon bon". The Age. Melbourne, Australia. January 12, 1968. p. 9. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  8. ^ 13 August. "Skippy". Channelnine.ninemsn.com.au. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  9. ^ 2009 tv documentary Skippy: Australia's First Superstar
  10. ^ Albert Moran, Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series, AFTRS 1993 p 44
  11. ^ SoaC programs – Smile of a Child TV.org
  12. ^ The Adventures of Skippy - DVD Land
  13. ^ "Skippy to front Rolo Cookies spot from J. Walter Thompson". Campaign. 21 May 1999.
  14. ^ What’s that Skip? Skippy the Bush Kangaroo returns to television, Western Australian Government Media Office, 31 July 2008
  15. ^ https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=skippy+fast+forward

External links[edit]