Skippy - Long Way Home: The chase is on!

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

The pilot for the Skippy series, produced in 1966, was aimed squarely at an overseas market. Although Australian television at this time was still broadcast in black-and-white, Skippy was filmed in colour on 16mm film to increase its international appeal. Barry Crocker, who played a guest role in the series, describes how the program tried to 'give the world [an image of] what Australia might be like’ (Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar, 2009).

Here, it is indeed shown as a place where kangaroos jump down the main street with a koala at every corner – the Australia of Skippy is a giant bush town with the city barely mentioned. The success of this creation of an ‘Australian’ identity is reflected in the 1970s and ’80s custom of referring to Australians with an Anglo-Saxon background as ‘Skips’ after the ultimate Australian, Skippy.

Skippy - Long Way Home: The Chase is on!

When head ranger Matt Hammond (Ed Devereaux) refuses to make a deal with Dr Alexander Stark (Frank Thring) – who is determined to have Skippy caged in his private zoo far away from the freedom of Waratah National Park – Skippy is kidnapped. Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) pines while Skippy manages to escape captivity, overcoming many dangerous obstacles on the way as she tries valiantly to find her way home.

Curator's Notes

A classic episode of Skippy, often broadcast as the premiere of the series. It features Sonny (Garry Pankhurst) and an anthropomorphised Skippy at the centre of a story which presents Australia to the world as a place where kangaroos run through the town centre and are capable of almost anything. This episode also introduces archenemy Dr Alexander Stark (played with relish by Frank Thring) and his ongoing quest to make Skippy part of his private zoo. Dr Stark believes that money can buy anything and if it doesn’t, there are always other ways to get what you want.

Skippy – Long Way Home is episode four of series one. It was broadcast around Australia during February 1968 in a 7pm timeslot on the Nine Network.

Notes by Tammy Burnstock

Production company:
Fauna Productions
Bob Austin
Executive Producers:
Bob Austin, John McCallum
Series Producer:
Lee Robinson
Max Varnel
Eric Jupp
Tony Bonner, Don Crosby, Ed Devereaux, Ken James, Red Moore, Garry Pankhurst, Frank Thring
Produced with the guidance and cooperation of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Ku-ring-gai Chase Trust.