Skippy's darkest secrets

There's a famous story about Frank Thring's guest appearance on the 1960's TV hit, Skippy The Bush Kangaroo.

The legendary Australian-actor-turned-Hollywood-star was sitting on the set waiting for a scene when he asked one of the crew members why a hessian bag on the floor kept moving about.

The crew member told him Skippy was inside it.

Thring replied, "My god if that's the star's dressing room what's mine like?"

It's a tale that has lived on ever since.

But a new ABC documentary will look at more behind the scenes stories, and the good, the bad and the ugly of this most iconic television series.

Produced from 1966 - 1968, Skippy was inspired by the success of Flipper, America's favourite dolphin. Producers visited the set to get a first hand look at what ideas worked in making the show and applied the formula to a uniquely Australian character. The 90 episodes went on to air in hundreds of countries around the world.

To this day, most Australians can still sing the show's theme song and remember key scenes in the adventures of Sonny Hammond (Garry Pankhurst) and Skippy.

The documentary will include interviews with original cast members including Pankhurst, Ken James, Tony Bonner and Liza Goddard.

Original directors and crew members will share tales of how they had to use up to 10 kangaroos for the scenes. They even admit to plying an emu with alcohol just to make it more manageable for shooting scenes. A bushfire scene was shot without any approval from authorities. Back in those days, clearly they could get away with a lot.

But there are also telling memories from female crew members who recall being told to wear short skirts on the set. Blokey cameramen would surreptitiously film the girls in between the scenes -- something that would never be condoned nowadays.

Skippy was financed by Sir Frank Packer, father of Kerry Packer, who bought the show after a brief screening (in fact, one that wasn't even complete due to projectors breaking down). Little did anybody know how huge the series would become, living on in syndication and our memories for a lifetime.

Skippy: Australia's First Superstar will air on ABC1 8:30pm Thursday September 17th.

Do you miss the lovable Kangaroo and his "clicking" noises? Will you watch the documentary? Comment below or head to the Skippy forum now!

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