1 9 6 8 – 1 9 7 2 (Australia)
1140 x 30 minute episodes
Australian series Adventure Island was designed for an audience of young (five to seven years of age) children and grew out of an earlier children’s magazine-style series, The Magic Circle Club.
Produced from the Melbourne studios of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), Adventure Island was immensely popular and screened five afternoons a week.
Each episode concerned a self-contained story which took place “far across the sea” on Adventure Island in the Kingdom of Diddley Dum Diddley.
The regular characters on the island were Clown (John-Michael Howson), Lisa (Liz Harris), Fifi, Percy Panda (Jack Manuel), Flower Potts (Brian Crossley) and Sailor.
The villains of the show were Miser Meanie and Fester Fumble (played with a suitable degree of camp by Colin McEwan and Ernie Bourne respectively) and later, Squire Squeezem (Burt Cooper).
There was also a regular cast of puppets including Maxie Mouse and Samson the Cat, both operated by Ernie Bourne.
The action was laced with songs, with Nancy Cato and (from 1969) Sue Donovan acting as narrator.
When in 1972 the ABC decided not to renew the series, intending to purchase Sesame Street from the American educational network PBS instead, there was a public outcry (extending to Federal Parliament) but the adventure was over.
Actor, writer and creator John-Michael Howson blames ABC bureaucracy for sinking the 5-year-old show: “They made up their minds and cancelled the bloody thing without taking notice of the huge reaction”.
The series was broadcast from 11 September 1967 to 22 December 1972 but sadly only six episodes remain (one each from 1967 and 1971 and four consecutive episodes from 1972). Tapes of many black & white ABC-TV shows from this time were ‘recycled’ as a cost-cutting measure.
Ho ho, far away we go
To a land that’s far across the sea
Bing bong, sound the sailing gong
For now we’re leaving for Adventure Island
Nancy Cato (1)
Sue Donovan (2)
Colin McEwan (1)
Robert Essex (2)
Mrs Flower Potts