Skippy the kangaroo on a rock with Waratah National Park headquarters in the background
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/collection/hero_image05-2019/nfsa_0686_skippy_webheader_3.jpg

More Skippy

More Skippy the Bush Kangaroo – celebrating the hit 1960s TV show

Even More Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Even more collection items celebrating the 1960s adventures of Skippy and Sonny in Waratah National Park.

This second Skippy collection takes a fond look back at the original series of 91 episodes, made by Fauna Productions between 1966 and 1969, and spin-off movie Skippy and The Intruders (1969).

It features clips from the show and movie, interviews with cast and crew, merchandise, music, advertisements, behind-the-scenes materials, and clips from the 1990s series The Adventures of Skippy and animated Skippy Adventures in Bushtown.

'What's that, Skip? You want to see more?' 

Visit our first Skippy curated collection and don't forget to view the Skippy online exhibition.

Garry Pankhurst Sings My Pal Skippy
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NFSA ID
306980
Year:
Year

'Elephants may be popular in Timbuktu but I'd rather have a kangaroo', sings 10-year-old actor Garry Pankhurst (who played Sonny Hammond) about his best friend Skippy.

Eric Jupp composed a number of songs for Skippy in addition to the iconic theme tune. 'My Pal Skippy' wasn't used in the show itself but was one of the many spin-off products created after Fauna Productions realised Skippy's merchandising potential. You can also listen to fellow actor Ed Devereaux singing the Skippy theme song.

The song itself has a heartwarming, lulling country feel to it with the main instrument being a banjo. Not coincidentally, the banjo is also the central instrument in the Skippy theme song.

The lyrics (by Ted Roberts) are delightfully simple, though sometimes a little forced in their rhyme, and use a call and response format. Overall it's a catchy tune and you can easily imagine children singing along.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Skippy Corn Flakes Advertisement
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NFSA ID
62331

Sanitarium Skippy Corn Flakes are 'The eating-est corn flakes ever made' according to this 1960s TV advertisement.

Children pogo stick and jump rope to the corner shop in imitation of kangaroos to purchase their favourite breakfast cereal, which includes a free toy kangaroo inside the box. They're accompanied by an animated kangaroo and catchy song.

The whole advertisement is delightfully upbeat and the suburban setting would have made it easy for kids to identify with.

This is another product that is unrelated to the TV series Skippy but conjures associations with it through the kangaroo featured in its advertising, to appeal to a similar children's market.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Moya Wood: writing about kangaroos
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1035181
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In this excerpt from an oral history interview with Moya Wood, the scriptwriter and script coordinator for Skippy admits she was initially ambivalent about taking on the role. 

It was her strong feeling for native animals – and desire to change the then perception that kangaroos were pests – that convinced her she could make a difference if children saw them as lovable instead.

Moya Wood has variously worked in Australian film and television over many years as a writer, script editor, script supervisor, and script consultant, often uncredited.

She was a script editor on a number of Crawfords television productions including Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police. Her film credits included script editing or consulting on Newsfront (1978) and Monkey Grip (1982).

Moya Wood was interviewed by Susan Lever on 7 December 2011 for the Australian Writers' Foundation Oral History Project. Filmed by FOXTEL.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

You can't train a kangaroo
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NFSA ID
787311
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Year

In this excerpt from Skippy: Australia's First Superstar (Stephen Oliver, Australia-UK, 2009), members of the crew talk about how they were able to get Skippy to 'act'.

Animal handler Scotty Denholm was clear that you couldn't train a kangaroo, as you could other animals. The crew frequently resorted to using kangaroo paws on sticks for close-ups when Skippy needed to open doors or put objects in her pouch.

The clip also features some behind-the-scenes audio related to the recording of Skippy's famous 'voice' (in reality, a sound not made by kangaroos at all).

For anyone interested in how Skippy was filmed, this clip is a real treat. The inserts of black-and-white production footage effectively show just how challenging it was to get a kangaroo to cooperate on set, and the shot of animal handler Scotty Denholm wiping the sweat from his brow speaks volumes.

The casual interviews with members of the crew looking back at how they used kangaroo paws on sticks is amusing in its own right.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Jeanie Drynan: working with Skippy
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1205752
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In this excerpt from an oral history interview with actress Jeanie Drynan, she talks about working with Skippy and how they created the illusion of Skippy's dexterity with her paws.

Drynan appeared in two episodes of Skippy as well as the feature film, The Intruders (1969).

Margaret Leask interviewed Jeanie Drynan for the NFSA Oral History program in 2014.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen

Ed Devereaux sings the Skippy theme
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NFSA ID
295598

Skippy's enormous popularity at home and abroad inevitably resulted in a range of merchandising spin-offs, including several sound recordings related to the series.

Here, Ed Devereaux (who played Head Ranger Matt Hammond) sings the Skippy theme tune (AKA 'Hippity Hop'), Eric Jupp's familiar composition but with lyrics.

This version of the song is slower than that recorded by The Executives for Series 1, Episode 35 – 'The Bushrangers', and is a much more professional studio recording. However, it does seem a little strange hearing what is basically a jaunty children's television theme tune crooned with such polish and earnestness.

Devereaux (1925–2003) was a prolific actor who worked steadily in the UK and Australia from the 1950s onwards.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Double page from Skippy publicity brochure with photos from the show.
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Skippy publicity brochure
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566180
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This page from a publicity brochure for Skippy highlights the international popularity of the show. It is also interesting for including a snapshot of when Skippy was broadcast in various countries and whether or not it was screened in colour. 

While the series was produced in colour, many countries (including Australia and the UK) were not yet broadcasting in colour when the series began. Skippy was eventually broadcast in 128 countries with an estimated international audience of 300 million people per week. 

The brochure also promotes the importance of the kangaroo as an emblem of Australian culture. In the late 1960s, 'the strange and wonderful island continent Down Under' was obviously still relatively unknown to other nations and therefore exotic. Fauna Productions clearly saw this as an additional selling point.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Bill Lambert: There were many Skippys
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NFSA ID
789591
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In this excerpt from an oral history interview with Bill Lambert, he explains why multiple kangaroos were needed to play Skippy and talks about the special on-camera skill of 'Nuts' the kanagaroo.

Bill Lambert was assistant director on ten episodes of Skippy. Wendy Borchers interviewed him for the NFSA Oral History program in 2009.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen

Double page of sheet music titled 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo', words and music by Eric Jupp.
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Skippy Sheet Music
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NFSA ID
360236
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The theme song for Skippy by Eric Jupp (1922–2003) is one of the most recognisable Australian television theme songs of all time. For generations of Australians it has become synonymous with the bush.

The banjo – an instrument more commonly associated with America – is cleverly used to mimic the bouncing of a kangaroo.

Interestingly, the final recording starts with the sound of a whistle being blown on a gumleaf, but there is no reference to this sound effect on the sheet music reproduced here.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

The Bush Orphan
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
368972

This is an excerpt from side one of a spoken word recording giving the backstory of how Skippy and Sonny first met.

The side opens with a song, 'Waratah National Park' by Kevin Gleeson, and then the spoken word story written by Moya Wood, who worked as scriptwriter and script coordinator on the television series.

The story is narrated by actor John McCallum, who was also a producer on Skippy. It was recorded while the series was in production, between 1966 and 1968.

It's a delightful recording, very much of its time, with the narrator's perfect diction seeming to speak directly to the intended young audience. Music and sound are used sparingly and unobtrusively in support, giving the recording the soothing quality of a bedtime story for children.

Side two contains another song, 'Skippy, Creature of the Wild', and story 'Skippy Saves Her Pals'.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Cover of book showing illustrations of a kangaroo and koalas, helicopter and speedboat. Plus a young boy and a man. Text reads, "Skippy Annual 1972'.
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Skippy Annual 1972
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NFSA ID
1150018
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Year

Published in 1972 in the UK and printed in Italy, this hardcover book is full of colour illustrations, stories and puzzles aimed at children who were fans of the Skippy television series.

Production of the television show had ended in 1969 but its popularity was clearly enduring. Skippy was the first Australian series to be so heavily merchandised and this annual is a good example of the type of tie-in product that was released to fans in the 1970s.

The cover features key elements from the show – including illustrations of Sonny, his father and Skippy. The likeness of an Aboriginal man presumably relates to the content of one of the stories.

The boat and helicopter (piloted by another series regular, Jerry King) hint that the annual will try to replicate the series' emphasis on action, and the koalas further ground the book's adventures in the Australian bush.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Two merged pages outlining the requirements for scriptwriters submitting stories for Skippy.
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Skippy: guidelines for scriptwriters
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754004
Courtesy:
Fauna Productions
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In the late 1960s American programming dominated our television screens and homegrown drama series were still comparatively few.

Skippy script supervisor Moya Wood had trouble finding suitable scripts for the show – Australian writers often had experience writing for radio drama but not the visual medium.

These documents are extracts from the Skippy Guide for Scriptwriters and they emphasise that action is paramount, dialogue should be kept to a minimum and 'let camera tell story'.

From the list of tabus (sic) and basic story requirements, you can also glean that Skippy was always intended to be a family show and that it was produced on a tight budget.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Black and turquoise background, orange writing. Header: "It's the 'Skippy' crew in a great full length color movie..." Several images, including people, a helicopter, a motorboat and Skippy.
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Skippy and the Intruders: Movie Poster
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453993
Courtesy:
Fauna Productions
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The Intruders (also known as Skippy and The Intruders) was the only full-length feature film based on the television series.

This poster features all the regular cast members and guest stars, using stills from the film as a collage. It promoted the film's release in Australia in December 1969.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Skippy and The Intruders: Skippy to the rescue
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NFSA ID
16498
Courtesy:
Fauna Productions
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Year

In this scene from the Skippy feature film The Intruders (Lee Robinson, Australia, 1969), Meredith (Kevin Miles) has kidnapped Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) and Meg (Jeanie Drynan) and taken them to an old boat shed.

Skippy attacks Meredith, allowing Sonny to escape and run for help. 

While the film recouped its costs at the box office when released for the December school holidays in 1969, it was not able to match the success of Skippy on TV and no further films were made.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Front page of a script for 'The Perfect Hosts' in Thai.
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Thai script for Skippy - The Perfect Hosts
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731262

At the height of its popularity Skippy was broadcast in 128 countries with a weekly audience of over 300 million viewers. The voices of the cast were dubbed into local languages and the NFSA collection includes several foreign-language Skippy scripts.

This is the title page of a script for Series 2, Episode 2 – 'The Perfect Hosts' from Thailand. Its translation into the Thai alphabet is a visual reminder of the global reach of Skippy.

The scribbled notes and underscores also emphasise that this is a working manuscript that has likely been marked up by directors, actors or production staff for the purposes of production.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

Advertising Jingle: Put a Little Hop In Your Day
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1491199

This very short, jaunty jingle was produced by Jack Grimsley. This is one take of four that we have in the collection.

It's not clear what the association was between Skippy and this tune. It may have been an advertisement for the television program, perhaps meant to be played on radio with a voice-over.

The slick and bouncy beat is quite different to Eric Jupp's familiar folky, sing-a-long theme and may have been pitching the program to a broader audience.

Grimsley was a composer who worked as the musical director at Network Ten from 1966 to 1988. He was responsible for a number of television theme tunes, most notably for game shows like Wheel of Fortune, Sale of the Century and Blankety Blanks.

Notes by Stephen Groenewegen and Adam Blackshaw

 

Skippy - Long Way Home: Hide and seek
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NFSA ID
7278
Courtesy:
Nine Network Australia and Fauna Productions.
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Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) and older brother Mark (Ken James) race through the Waratah National Park Wildlife Reserve playing a game of hide and seek with Skippy. Skippy wins round one and hides her eyes with her paws for a rematch. However, someone is secretly filming and, back in a viewing room, it is revealed to be Dr Stark (Frank Thring). The dastardly doctor is behind a plan to ‘make a deal’ with head ranger Matt Hammond (Ed Devereaux) to secure the amazing Skippy for his private zoo. This teaser leads into the opening titles introducing the audience to the characters, bush setting and the special relationship between Sonny and Skippy, all set to the now world- famous theme song.

Summary by Tammy Burnstock

Skippy - Long Way Home: Dr Stark the animal collector
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NFSA ID
7278
Courtesy:
Nine Network Australia and Fauna Productions.
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Year

Cigar smoking Dr Stark (Frank Thring) wanders around his private zoo.

Skippy is refusing food but the good doctor feels confident that his understanding of animal psychology in ordering a meal ‘fit for a king’ from his personal chef will break down the resolve of Skippy, who he believes is ‘no ordinary kangaroo’.

Skippy proves this by jumping straight at Dr Stark to escape from her cage – even managing to lock the door on her way out! This leaves Dr Stark furious as his henchmen unsuccessfully try to recapture her, much to the amusement of the birds and other captive animals. Finally Skippy makes her escape from the zoo by jumping over the fence.

Summary Tammy Burnstock

Skippy - Long Way Home: The chase is on!
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7278
Courtesy:
Nine Network Australia and Fauna Productions.
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Year

Skippy, now on the run, pauses at the edge of town. Dr Stark’s henchmen, McMurtrie (Red Moore) and Snapes (Don Crosby), comment that she’ll end up on the main street and so she does. Pursued, she finds herself on the train tracks with trains approaching in both directions. At this moment back at home, Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) wakes up screaming. He is comforted by his father (Ed Devereaux) who understands and explains how time can heal the loss of ‘someone very dear’. Meanwhile Skippy continues her journey home and her troubles are far from over as, injured and hiding, she is found and pursued by sheepdogs onto a sheep grate where she is very nearly run over by a truck.

This excerpt is from episode four, Long Way Home (1968).

Summary by Tammy Burnstock

Skippy - Be Our Guest
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NFSA ID
19712
Courtesy:
Nine Network Australia and Fauna Productions.
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Year

In the pre-titles teaser Clancy (Liza Goddard) gallops on horseback through beach and bush amidst the usual array of featured Australian animals, including a snake which spooks her horse. She falls heavily, observed by a group of Aboriginal men (members of the Aboriginal Theatre from Yirrkala in Arnhem Land). The opening titles then introduce the world of Skippy, her human family and the special relationship between Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) and Skippy.

Summary by Tammy Burnstock

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Skippy - Be Our Guest: 'I’m not keen on girls'
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NFSA ID
19712
Courtesy:
Nine Network Australia and Fauna Productions.
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Year

A confused and lost Clancy (Liza Goddard) wanders through the bush, followed by a group of Aboriginal men (members of the Aboriginal Theatre from Yirrkala, Arnhem Land) with uncertain intent. Meanwhile Mark Hammond (Ken James) confesses to helicopter pilot Jerry King (Tony Bonner) that while he is not keen on girls in general, he hopes Mrs Merrick will let Clancy stay. When Clancy’s riderless horse Bullet turns up, head ranger Matt Hammond (Ed Devereaux) is summoned and, fearing that Clancy may be badly hurt, Jerry is sent out to search for her.

Summary Tammy Burnstock

Skippy - Be Our Guest: 'I wish I could understand you'
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
19712
Courtesy:
Nine Network Australia and Fauna Productions.
Year:
Year

When two Aboriginal men take her by the arms to lead her away from a contaminated waterhole, Clancy is initially scared. However when they offer her fresh water and something to eat at their camp she realises their good intent and relaxes. Finding a means of communication without a shared language, a tribe member draws a snake to show what she is eating. Politely putting the food aside, Clancy then draws a map to express the land features of the home to which she needs to return.

Summary by Tammy Burnstock

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
The Adventures of Skippy, 1991
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491360
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The Skippy reboot The Adventures of Skippy ran for 39 episodes in 1991 and starred Andrew Clarke.

The story was developed as a sequel to the original 1960s series with Sonny Hammond now an adult with children of his own and working as a co-owner of an animal park in the tropical north of Australia. Skippy is now more of a family pet than a semi-wild kangaroo.

This clip features the opening credits to the show, which gives an introduction to the characters, indicates the family nature of the series and reveals some difference to the 1960s series. The music, for one, is less catchy, though it does feature some of the same lyrics as Eric Jupp's original.

The sound of a didjeridu replaces the gum-leaf whistle from the 1960s credits, perhaps indicating this new series will have more Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander characters, though none appear in the credits.

The footage doesn't reveal any storylines but indicates the series will feature plenty of outdoors action with helicopters, trail bikes, bicycles, boats and horseriding all featuring prominently, as well as plenty of Australian animals.

Notes by Adam Blackshaw

Bi-fold flyer featuring the main characters posing with Skippy. Includes synopsis and images from the series.
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The Adventures of Skippy: flyer
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NFSA ID
484852
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'Skippy, Australia's most famous kangaroo, is hopping back to the world's television screens in a brand new 39 episode children's series', heralds this bi-fold flyer, printed to promote the 1991 Skippy reboot.

The text inside the flyer usefully outlines the series key characters and the family dynamic at the heart of the new show:

'Set in Australia's tropical north, Sonny Hammond, who in the 1967 series was a 12-year-old boy, is now a 37-year-old widower played by award-winning actor Andrew Clarke - The Saint, Anzacs, Sword of Honour.

'In the new series Sonny has two 10-year-old non-identical twins played by talented newcomers Kate McNeil and Simon James. Sonny is the co-owner of Habitat, an animal theme park in Australia's tropical Gold Coast hinterland. The series' storyline revolves around the humorous and/or dramatic situations experienced by Skippy and the Hammond family in their various exciting adventures.

'Joining this talented trio is veteran actress Moya O'Sullivan who has been cast as Thelma Woods, the crusty but lovable co-owner of Habitat, and Fiona Shannon as Kate Burgess the vet, who looks after the park's animals.'

The flyer gives us a glimpse at the marketing for The Adventures of Skippy but stops short of tempting us with story details or information about guest actors, which was a strong point of the original series.

Being limited to straightforward factual information about the show, the flyer does not build much anticipation among prospective viewers or promote it in an exciting or innovative fashion.

Notes by Adam Blackshaw

Skippy Adventures in Bushtown - Trouble in Bushtown: 'If I could make a dollar or two'
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Popular but doddery old Mayor William Plato is retiring after 50 years, and the hunt is on for a new mayor for Bushtown. Skippy is asked to keep an eye on things, while the slovenly garbage collector Croco declares that he won’t vote – unless he is paid!

Summary by Annemaree O'Brien

Poster with cartoon image of Skippy and other animals against a cityscape and helicopter.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2018/474939_skippy_bushtown_poster.jpg
Skippy Adventures in Bushtown: Poster
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NFSA ID
474939
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Year

Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown (1998– 99) was a completely new spin-off and bore little, if any, resemblance to the original Skippy series. The 26 episodes of this animated show tells the story of helicopter pilot and park ranger, Skippy, and his efforts in protecting Bushtown from Mayor Croco, his greedy wife Sulka and his gang of thugs.

All the voices for the series were contributed by: Robyn Moore (who voiced all the female characters), Jamie Oxenbould and Keith Scott (who between them voice the male characters). Oxenbould also voiced Skippy.

This poster effectively encapsulates the whole premise of the series. Skippy is the central character and is depicted striding out of the frame wearing a waistcoat and baseball hat turned rakishly to one side while giving a thumbs-up sign. You can immediately tell that he is the show’s ‘good guy’ but also a bit of a larrikin.

He bisects the design which allow Gross to conveniently place the ‘bad guys’ on the left and Skippy’s friends on the right. The town is vaguely depicted in the background to give the characters context. Overall it is a colourful and child-friendly poster.

Notes by Adam Blackshaw