Today marks 50 Years since Skippy the Bush Kangaroo first hit Australian screens.
Widely regarded as our first international TV export, it screened on Nine from 1968 – 1970.
At its height Skippy was watched by 300 million viewers around the world -it still screens on Nine today at around 3am.
TV Historian Andrew Mercado said, “One of the reasons that Skippy still endures to this day is because of the deal made by its makers and Frank Packer back in the day. Packer agreed to fund the series on the proviso that he be able to screen the show in perpetuity and for that reason, and probably that reason alone, new generations have discovered this Aussie classic.
“It was a huge financial risk that Producer John McCallum took in making this show, given he filmed it on film and in colour almost a decade before colour TV came to Australia. He gambled big that overseas countries would be interested in watching the show and that gamble paid off. It’s possible that thousands of international tourists have come to Australia based on their childhood viewing experience.”
The deal famously could not forsee residuals and DVDs for is cast, with actor Tony Bonner losing a courtcase for royalties.
In 2016 Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside, NSW, celebrated 50 years since the pilot was filmed. Skippy’s Ranger Headquarters, which featured in the series, was based at Waratah Park in Duffy’s Forest.
Skippy is still regarded as our most famous TV animal character with readers recently voting the Hammond clan one of the most loved families in Children’s TV.
National Film and Sound Archive:
Title No: 137998
Broadcast Date: 1968 – 1970
Production Date: 1966 – 1969
Produced as: Series
Categories: Children; Drama
Summary: A children’s television adventure series about a young boy and his pet kangaroo, produced by Fauna Productions and Norfolk International Productions. There were 91 episodes, in three series, beginning in February 1968. The show was shot in colour on 16 mm film, but at the time of first screening Australian television was still in black and white. First Series: Episodes 101 – 139. Second Series: Episodes 140 – 178. Third Series: Episodes 179 – 191.
Country of Origin: Australia