Skippy, Australia’s Crime-Fighting Marsupial

Commonly known as Skippy the bush kangaroo.

  • It all started over 40 years ago.
  • Skippy always saved the day.
  • 91 episodes over 3 series.
  • Sold to 128 countries worldwide.
  • Viewed by 300 million viewers a week.

On the 16th of September in 1956 something new arrived in Australia. It was called television. Unfortunately, it was all American TV so pioneering Australian film producer, Lee Robinson, took a trip to the USA to try and pick up some tips.

That’s when he saw “Flipper”.

“Hmmmm… interesting show, how can I create an Australian version of that?” he wondered.

So he went to the pub. A few beers later and after plenty of chat with his mates, the idea was formed. They decided to fund the creation of a pilot episode for a series about a kangaroo that behaves more like a faithful family dog.

Next they met with another bunch of lads who were wildlife experts, to find out if kangaroos could be trained. “Yeah mate! We can train anything.” Said one of them, as he lifted up his shirt to reveal he was wearing a python around his waist like a belt.

Next, they needed a name.; Jumpy…. Poppy…. Springy…. Skippy …. SKIPPY!

Sorted! Now they needed some theme music. Enter Eric Jupp.

Take a quick look at this and tell me it doesn’t stir something from deep within you……….

Didn’t he do a good job? I think we can all sing that song. The pilot show was picked up by Sir Frank Packer, (Kerry’s dad) the Australian media mogul with deep pockets and of the rest is history.

But don’t underestimate the importance of Skippy. When “she” (yes, Skippy had a pouch, so she was undoubtedly a girl kangaroo) hit the screens, Australia had arrived! She is Australia’s first superstar.

For many people watching Skippy was the first time they ever became aware of Australia. Skippy became Australia’s biggest and most successful ever advert. People literally moved to Australia after watching Skippy.

But who is the real Skippy?

Prepare yourselves for a shock. Ready? There was more than one Skippy. Kangaroos can’t really be trained and what they like doing more than anything else is running away. So there were quite a few scenes on the show where you would see Skippy running through the bush; well, sometimes she just kept running. Time to get a new Skippy.

Rumour has it that there may have been 14 or more Skippy’s.

But what about Skippy’s unusual talents which are clear for all to see here……


Prepare yourselves for shock number two. Ready? Skippy playing the drums. Skippy waiving. Skippy untying knots. Skippy picking up cups of tea. Skippy playing the piano. It didn’t happen. Skippy’s “hands and arms” were fake! I have no idea how they created such a realistic pair of kangaroo limbs, but I did wonder if they perhaps…… no, they wouldn’t, would they?

Lee Robinson was awarded the O.A.M. (Order of Australia Medal) in the 1985 Queen’s New Years Honours List for his services to the Australian Film and television industry. Quite right too mate!

Skippy, Australia’s first superstar: May 1967 to September 1969 but will live on for ever.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • BobinOz October 19, 2009, 1:12 pm | Link

    Hey Joel

    When I decided to write about Skippy, I thought “wonder if they have the theme tune on YouTube”. When I found it and played it, I swear the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. It was awesome. Took me right back there. I reckon I would have been around 10 years old gawping at the TV back in England when that came on.

    There are three DVD sets, one for each series, and they’re pretty much readily available out here in Australia. They seemed to be priced at around $50-$60 per series. You’d have no problem getting them over here. But if you can’t wait, I’d suggest searching eBay if it is available where you are or just Google “Skippy DVD set” and see who does the best shipping rates to you.

    And yes, she was an Eastern Grey but if you watch them all carefully, some days she was less grey than others. Depends which “Skippy” they were using.

    Buy plenty of popcorn, 91 episodes!

    Cheers

    Bob

  • Joel Miller October 18, 2009, 2:36 am | Link

    Oy mate thanks for setting me back some 40 years, i was an ankle biter at the time Skippy was aired in Montreal Quebec. I would like to purchase the collection on DVD, any address where i can write to for details? I will soon be moving to Australia and hope to work the land Skippy grew up on, she is a Greyback isn’t she mate? Again thank you for such a wonderful website BobinOz.

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