Monday, September 07, 2009

Skippy The Bush Kangaroo : 'Dumb As A Sheep'

A great piece from David Dale in the Sun Herald about Skippy exposes the shocking fakery behind the kangaroo who I'd been led to believe was embarrassingly smarter than that kid he kept rescuing, Sonny.

...various animal wranglers reveal that kangaroos are impossible to train, because they are "dumber than sheep". Their acting range is limited to sitting still, looking around and hopping away, so the producers filmed 14 different animals in the hope of capturing enough variety of movement to fit with script needs. Before any scene, the chosen roo was kept in a hessian bag, so that she (yes, Skippy was female) would emerge dazed and compliant for a couple of minutes before making her escape.

It's a technique for controlling the talent that has sadly gone out of fashion in Australian TV production. Kind of.

300 million people around the world ended up seeing Skippy, but Sweden wouldn't show it. Why? might give children "a misleading impression of an animal's abilities". What? Just because Skippy can make phone calls, open a safe, handle the controls of a helicopter, play the piano and the drums, and communicate at a level of sophistication rarely achieved by a 12 year old human being?

I remain convinced that I once saw Skippy spinning a tyre iron as he changed a wheel on the ranger's four wheel drive and cooking an omelette. But then, I can also recall Skippy surfing, but the cast rarely left the national park. Allergy medication in the early 1970s was very, very strong.

I didn't know this :

(Skippy was)....Australia's first venture into international program-making....Skippy paved the way for more versatile actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett and Rachel Griffiths.

A dazed kangaroo paved the way for Australian actresses internationally?

Add Skippy to our list of National Treasures.