1 9 8 3 (UK/Australia)
9 x 30 minute episodes
Debuting on British television on 6 January 1983, The Coral Island was based on the novel by R M Ballantyne and starred 14-year-old Nicholas Bond-Owen – already well-known to television viewers as the know-all Tristram Fourmile in George and Mildred.
His distinctive National Health glasses were gone, as was his posh accent. He now played the part of Peterkin, a scraggy redheaded ragamuffin pickpocket, shipwrecked on a coral island with two older boys.
Nicholas appeared with another British actor, Richard Gibson as Ralph Rover, Australian Scott McGregor as Jack Martin, and a Samoan girl called Pele Teuila as Avatea.
Peterkin was the orphaned child of a convict in the penal colony of New South Wales, who hitched a ride on the ship captain’s coach in the first scene of the series and then stowed away on the ship when it sailed.
Ralph was a toff and the spoiled son of a wealthy ship-owner in New South Wales (Charles Tingwell) who was en route to England to study at Eton.
Jack was the cook’s mate on the vessel carrying Ralph to England. Born a member of the lower class, he had a chip on his shoulder against snobs like Ralph, who he nicknamed “Snotty” at first sight.
Episodes told of the troubles, terrors, tortures and torments of the three young castaways as they faced the possibility of being eaten by cannibals or mauled by sharks, of starving to death or being killed by marauding pirates.
Location shooting took place in Western Samoa. The three-masted schooner Claraborg caught fire and sank off South Australia just six months after The Coral Island was filmed.
Sir Charles Rover