Skippy - Long Way Home: Hide and seek
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
In an interview for the documentary Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar (2009), Lee Robinson saw as key the fact that, ‘The little boy had all this wonderful country to roam about in and the whole concept was to always have the feeling that he was free to roam the country and know the animals and so on’. Executive producer John McCallum comments that in the creation of the pilot program, the first thing they discussed was the name, rejecting Springy, Hoppy and Jumpy in favour of Skippy. The second point of discussion was the creation of a ‘simple yet memorable’ theme tune.
The Skippy theme song, composed by English-born Eric Jupp, is one of the most recognisable Australian tunes. A leading film and TV composer, Jupp’s last major TV credit was the score for The New Adventures of Skippy, 1992.
Long Way Home: Hide and Seek Synopsis
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.
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 7 pm timeslot on the Nine Network.
Notes by Tammy Burnstock
This clip shows the introduction, opening credits and theme song from a classic 1968 episode of Skippy.