1 9 8 1 (Australia)
50 x 30 minute episodes
Holiday Island was supposed to be a soap opera about a holiday resort on a tropical island. Dubbed “Horror Day Island” (and also “Arcade with palm trees”) it turned out to be a bad trip for viewers and not much fun for the cast, running for fifty episodes in 1981 before it was dropped completely (to everyone’s relief).
The series was created by veteran Terry Stapleton, with the brief that it was to be something like the US series, Love Boat. He now looks back on it as an expensive failure.
The idea sounded fine with the opportunity for good-looking young people to fall in and out of love by swimming pools. A whole suite of natural disasters could have occurred and all kinds of weird and wonderful visitors could have stayed at the resort.
But the plush holiday complex built by Channel 10 at their Nunawading (Melbourne) studios at a cost of more than $250,000 proved a complete disaster. Melbourne weather does not lend itself to Tropicana.
On most days the carefully planted but soon wilting palm trees were being blown back at 45° angles across grey and cloudy skies.
The swimming pool developed waves from the constant wind, and the actresses, trying to look relaxed and alluring in bikinis, were blue and rigid with cold.
At the heart of the action were Nick Tate as the Holiday Island manager Neil Scott, and English actor Steven Grives as his scheming, devious brother, Jason. Newcomer Caz Lederman played Jason’s abused and abandoned ex-wife, Angela, who was also the assistant manager of the resort.
Hey Hey It’s Saturday‘s voice-over man John Blackman was wonderfully funny as neurotic advertising writer Russell Parker.
Among the island regulars were Frank Wilson as Banjo Paterson, an ageing eccentric beachcomber with the foresight of Radar in M*A*S*H, Tom Oliver as the rascally handyman Wally Simmons, Alyson Best as the resort maid Lisa Kendall, and Marilyn Mayo (formerly of the Super Flying Fun Show) as the good-natured cocktail lounge barmaid, Dusty. Patricia Kennedy played the resort owner, Mrs Muldoon.
Guests on the show included Tracy Mann, Rowena Wallace, Rebecca Gilling, Chantal Contouri, George Mallaby, Maurie Fields and Gus Mercurio.
The observant soap-watcher will note that part of the exotic Holiday Island resort eventually turned up at the Lassiter’s Hotel complex in Neighbours.
Tony “Zack” Zackarakis