Recognise this face?

By David Knox on September 3, 2009 / Filed Under Programming 14

gps2Meet Garry Pankhurst, better known as Sonny from Skippy the Bush Kangaroo which screened from 1966-68.

Once the sidekick to television’s most popular animal hero, a now-grown up Pankhurst talks about his memories of the show in a new ABC documentary, Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar.

During the show’s reign, Pankhurst would make public appearances with kangaroos, attracting crowds bigger than that for the PM.

“I probably found the public adulation a little bit overwhelming I suppose,” he now says. “I didn’t really think my character warranted this ‘start treatment’ type thing.”

Participating in the doco, he has also been reluctant to acknowledge his role in the show’s success.

“Funnily enough, it’s probably taken me 35 years to really come to terms with what Skippy meant, and what my part in Skippy was all about.

“I used to try and avoid the Skippy subject while trying to lead a normal life, but it’s only in more recent years I’ve realised what impact it really made.”

The documentary, narrated by Magda Szubanski, also includes interviews with co-stars Ken James, Tony Bonner (who recently took legal action over residuals), actress Liza ‘Clancy’ Goddard, production crew and creative executives.

But there are also darker tales from behind the scenes, including rather shocking stories from women crew members who were made to dress in short skirts.

The women were filmed surreptitiously by the male crew during fiming breaks and receiving constant ‘put downs.’

“Women weren’t allowed to wear jeans and definitely not trousers,” says one female editor. “You had to wear a dress, you had to wear a skirt, and it could be a miniskirt.

“You were actually quite indecently dressed quite often.”

On Saturdays women were “allowed to wear slacks.”

Actress Liza Goddard agrees: “They were always filming us. Awful. Riotous laughter.”

Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar airs on ABC1 8:30pm Thursday September 17.


  1. Skippy's Mate January 21, 2011 at 1:33 am -

    God, people are peurile and pathetic. Some of these comments are massively childish. Idioits.

  2. scott franzmann March 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm -

    waratah park must be saved!

  3. Tony Worrall February 22, 2010 at 3:47 am -

    I remember this delightful series as ATV showed it in the midlands(UK). Saw the docu on BBC 4 last week…really great. Good luck with saving the park.

  4. David Knox September 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm -
  5. Penny Edmonds September 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm -

    Please take a moment to sign this petition

    Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary, Home of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, is currently leased by Prudentia Investments and it’s future is uncertain. We, the community, do not want this land to become just another housing estate. We cannot allow this to happen, this is a beautiful piece of land and an iconic part of Australian History. This is a matter of urgency!
    NSW Lands needs to take responsibility & claim back this land and return it to the community.

  6. Tony September 18, 2009 at 3:38 pm -

    Is it really possible to make a Sound by blowing into a Gum-Leaf ?. Me thinks not.
    How was the sound made ?.
    Would anyone be interested in forming a Skippy Club ?.

  7. Brett Debritz September 4, 2009 at 11:19 am -

    What is Garry Pankhurst doing now? If is to be believed (and it usually is), he’s done no film or TV acting since Skippy.

  8. Curtis September 3, 2009 at 8:05 pm -

    Garry was such a talent in this remarkable series set in a beautiful Australian setting with our abundant wildlife featured to the world – I am sure the work of the late Ed Devereaux (alias Park Ranger Matt Hammond) will be honoured. I am really looking forward to this documentary.

  9. Southpatt September 3, 2009 at 5:24 pm -

    Hah. yes I am old enough :)

    Although I didn’t pick Garry Pankhurst from the picture..I guess too many years have gone by.

    I love docos on Tv shows – especially behind the scenes info – so this show will be no exception.

    Marking on the calendar now (Actually I’ll punch it in the iphone) Makes me sound younger

  10. Andrew September 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm -

    the YouTube clip that ABC has put up to promote this show really doesn’t make me want to watch it at all (it put me off even mentioning it on my blog as a show of possible interest) but at least your review puts a perspective on the show that makes it appear to be of some interest.

  11. steven g September 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm -

    I met Gary and Skippy on the steps of Waltons Liverpool, NSW back in the 60’s. It was a great day for an 8 year old.

  12. frankie fox September 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm -

    who else is coming back from the grave,don lane

  13. JG September 3, 2009 at 11:27 am -

    I actually thought it might have been Skippy all grown up.

  14. Tony H. September 3, 2009 at 7:40 am -

    Wow! I didn’t guest that one!

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