Former cast and crew of The Magic Circle Club and Adventure Island yesterday attended a memorial service for Godfrey Phillip, the creator and producer of the two successful children’s TV shows.
The service was held at a Fitzroy Brotherhood of St Laurence aged care centre where he had lived for 10 years. John-Michael Howson, writer and star of both series, told mourners Philipp approached him in 1965 with the idea of a ”whimsical” children’s show.
The Magic Circle Club ran on Channel 0 (now TEN) from 1965-1967 with a cast including Howson, Ted Dunn, Nancy Cato, Liz Harris, Colin McEwan, Noel Ferrier, Bunney Brooke, and Mary Hardy. After it ended Philipp and Howson created Adventure Island for the ABC, set in the kingdom of Diddley-Dum-Diddley. Howson played Clown, Jack Manuel as Percy Panda, Brian Crossley as Mrs Flower Pots and Ernie Bourne as Fester Fumble.
”He did things with black and white television – pre all the wonderful digital magic that they now have – that were amazing,” said Howson.
”If I came up with, ‘they’re up on the moon and they catch a rocket there’, he would work out how to do that. With one light, he’d change the whole effect of a scene. People come up to me today and say, ‘oh the colours (of Adventure Island) were beautiful. I tell them, ‘it wasn’t in colour, it was in black-and-white’.”
Philipp received a Logie Award for a 1979 children’s series, Rainbow, that never screened. From 1979 to 1984 he produced or directed 25 episodes of Prisoner.
Howson thought Philipp had died until he discovered him at the Brotherhood and he is believed to have spent some periods in homelessness. No family members attended yesterday’s memorial service.
Yesterday Radio National interviewed former Adventure Island presenter Liz Harris.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald