1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 1 (Australia)
188 x 30 minute episodes
Despite the impressive uniforms, pilots and air hostesses proved to have less appeal than either doctors or policemen and this bi-weekly Aussie soap about aeroplane folk never quite took off.
Terry Stapleton created Skyways, which turned Tullamarine Airport (in Melbourne) into Pacific Airport and treated viewers to background sound effects – well, a continual roar of planes – and the sort of mind-numbing muzak that makes supermarket shopping such hell.
Tony Bonner wore the biggest frown as Paul McFarlane, the airport administrator, a man with a misunderstood wife and a beautiful daughter, Mandy (Gaynor Martin), who was keen to heal the rift between her parents.
Bill Stalker played his heavyweight ex-cop deputy, Peter Fanelli, a man with a Magnum P.I. moustache, a crumpled suit and a live-in lady friend he had rescued from prostitution.
Bartholomew John (who played Ronald McDonald in Australian McDonalds TV Adverts for many years) played a pin-up pilot with his cap at a jaunty angle, while Ken James (who had survived both Skippy and The Box) hung around the pretty girl at the information desk and worried his mum.
Tina Bursill was Louise Carter, the no-nonsense administrator of the airport, and there were several semi-sophisticated women with too much makeup, taking deep breaths and flirting with the dashing flying chaps.
Each week the script combined the continuing turmoil in the home life of the staff with a story about problem passengers – all sorts of weirdo’s, criminals, drug traffickers and fugitives. “Foreigners” mostly.
And the problem of air hostesses was not overlooked either. One poor dear was the victim of an aggressive lesbian who had big plans for a stopover night and turned nasty when told where to stick her champagne.
Nor was comedy forgotten. Pompous old George (Brian James) – the general manager, who spoke with an English accent as all truly ridiculous characters in Aussie soaps always do – got into a tizzy every week with his ‘arrangements’.
Skyways ultimately ended up making air travel seem more troublesome than glamorous.
Bill Stalker was killed in 1981 in a motorcycle accident in Toorak, Melbourne when his bike skidded on a wet road.
Captain Douglas Stewart
Sir Joseph Miles