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Posted by STEVE M on


Are children so naive and gullible today that they think a kangaroo has more nouse than some Radio Amateurs ( and better table manners too)? 

Where did this random thought come from, well, if you are chap or lady of a certain age you will remember watching Skippy The Bush Kangaroo and singing along to Eric Jupp's banjo ditty:-

 Skippy was a hell of a marsupial and was a female eastern grey kangaroo, who was the star of the Skippy The Bush Kangaroo series of which 91 episodes were filmed then first shown between 1967 and 1969. 

Skippy is befriended by 9-year-old Sonny Hammond, who with 16-year-old brother Mark are the children of widower Matt Hammond, the Head Ranger of Waratah National Park. The stories revolved around events in the park, including its animals, the dangers arising from natural hazards, and the actions of park visitors. 

The small and phenomenally clever Skippy was no pet and it was often reiterated in the series that Skippy lived in the park and was free to come and go as she pleased, often disappearing for days after drinking copious volumes of Fosters, the amber nectar.  Once she went AWOL for over three weeks due to a particularly intense dalliance with an antillopine wallaroo called Joey.

Skippy was found in the bush as an orphaned baby by Sonny after her mother had been killed by hunters.  A strong bond quickly developed  between Skippy, Sonny and the rest of the Hammond family.

Skippy was a remarkable kangaroo who was capable of near-human thought and reasoning,  understanding everyone she met with no doors being a barrier to her.  She carried things in her pouch rather than a Tesco's carrier bag and could cross streams whilst hopping along narrow logs.  She could also foil villains and other neer-do-wells, rescue hapless bushwalkers, untie ropes, collect the mail, play drums in a band, place bets with the bookies and EVEN OPERATE A SW TRANSMITTER!  And here we see her doing just that:-

The transmitter is an AWA unit with the accompanying receiver looking much like an Eddystone 1002 with an external frequency meter.

Alas, when I grew up ( about three weeks ago) I was heartbroken to find that Skippy was not in all actuality a singular kangaroo 'wunderkind' prodigy but instead a cast of between nine and fifteen kangaroos were used for each show although each of them did have capabilities equal to some radio amateurs though!

The apparent manual dexterity was often achieved by using separate arms in the hands of human operators and Skippy's trademark "tchk tchk tchk" noise was entirely fictional as kangaroos make no such sounds even though squirrels do!

But some sort of sound was needed for the series, and someone came up with the idea of clicking their tongue to make the sound.  To make Skippy move her mouth, to synchronise her vocalisations, production staff gave the kangaroos chocolate, chewing gum or grass and, in some cases, an elastic band around the lower jaw - bet you couldn't try that today without some wombat wittering about cultural appropriation, animal ethics,  kanga-slavery, kanga-shaming or even kanga-exploitation.


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