(This isn’t actually Skippy)
Photo Credit: yewenyi via Compfight cc
Remember that famous kangaroo Skippy? Well, there were actually 15 of them. Either John McCallum the creator of Skippy was all about having an egalitarian set where all the animals were the star or figuring out who the “real” Skippy was and who her stunt doubles were could be quite the challenge!  The show ran from 1966 to 1968 and if you aren’t familiar with it followed a boy called Sonny and his smart kangaroo (Skippy) as they got up to all sorts of mischief in the Australian outback. The show was set in Duffys Forest near Sydney in the state of New South Wales but according to the narrative, the pair would have their adventures in the fictional Waratah National Park.
The original Skippy ran for three seasons, originally premiering in black and white in Australia as the joys of colour television hadn’t quite graced screens down under, the producers cleverly shot the show on 16mm colour film so that Skippy could be a part of children’s lives across the globe. The story of colour television in Australia is actually quite interesting as the technology existed for a long time before Australians were finally allowed to see television outside the scope of the grey and sepia tones.  Much like with most issues, a regulation body blocked the change for a prolonged period. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) wouldn’t allow colour television until standards for colour television had been set in Australia.  Whereas the United States and Canada were seeing in technicolour since the mid-1960s, Australia only saw its first broadcast in 1975 and truly felt like an Island nation as we only started having full-time transmissions in colour in 1977. So for the entire lifetime of the original show, Australian audiences only ever saw Skippy through a black and white box. It was however shown on repeat for a number of years, well into the 1980s and became so famous that it was played in over one hundred countries.  For nearly half a Century, Skippy has played the role of the ad-hoc Australian cultural ambassador. When people think of Australia, they think of kangaroos. 

One of the challenges that the crew faced was trying to figure out how to humanise Skippy and how to get her to follow directions as they were filming. For sound, the clicking that was depicted was not actual sounds made by the kangaroo; it was instead vocal sound effects that were emulated in the editorial process. One of the less publicised tactics to make Skippy more relatable was to tie an elastic band around her lower jaw or give her chewing gum or grass to emulate her moving her mouth.  Fortunately other than this, there were no gross animal rights abuses that occurred during filming which is good news for fans of the show.