Is there a longer-running locally produced show still in reruns, than Skippy The Bush Kangaroo?
Remarkably, as the show reaches 50 Years since it was first produced, it is still on air on Nine if at the overnight time of 3:30am, and 6:30am on GEM.
That’s despite it’s hokey production values and 4×3 screen ratio.
Skippy was produced from 1966 – 1969, with 91 episodes airing from 1968 – 1970. It went on to become our first international TV hit.
Producer John McCallum first offered the show to Australian Frank Packer, father of Kerry Packer, who bought the show after a brief screening (in fact, one that wasn’t even complete due to projectors breaking down).
He paid a one-off fee for the show in perpetuity.
While that deal was fortuitous for the Packers and Nine, it wasn’t so good for the cast, who signed on without any thought of payment for something called DVDs that had never been invented. Actor Tony Bonner later failed in a courtcase to win residuals.
TV historian Andrew Mercado told TV Tonight, “It is very unfortunate that the actors involved don’t get paid residuals but they are in exactly the same boat as the actors from Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. Nobody realised back in the 60’s that syndication was coming, let along video, DVDs or streaming. The producers of Skippy took an enormous financial risk to make a TV series on film and in colour – and that risk ended up paying off handsomely. But it wasn’t a certainty, it was a hugely expensive operation which is why they gave endless syndication rights to Nine in a last ditch bid to cover their massive costs.”