Australian TV legend Skippy has stormed off the set of the internationally popular Neighbours soap opera after “creative disagreements”.
Skippy told The Bug she had come out of retirement to make a special guest appearance on the program to help publicise the need for viewers to donate to bushfire relief funds.
“I was approached only a week or so ago by producers of Neighbours at Network 10 to see if I would be happy to make a guest appearance,” Skippy said.
“I haven’t been seen on screen for decades, except in repeats, but I quickly agreed once they told me the role they had in mind for me was as a volunteer firefighter.
“The idea was that they would write my character into a couple of episodes, casting me as a former girlfriend of the Finn Kelly character played by Rob Mills.
“The general storyline was that I had returned to Ramsay Street out of the blue, Finn and I get back together, then I decide to volunteer to go and fight the bushfires — with Finn trying to change my mind in a number of emotional scenes (main picture) because he fears for my life given the ferocity and size of the fires.
“The producers believed my appearance would help raise the profile of bushfire relief funds and they wrote into the scripts some not-too-subtle plugs urging Neighbours fans to make donations.
“But when I got on set I was not very happy after reading the final script.
“As you know I was a huge international star but became very much typecast after Skippy premiered in 1968.
“After the show ended a few years later I didn’t get much work apart from appearances at shopping centres and the like until they tried to revive the show with The Adventures of Skippy in the early 1990s. But that didn’t last.
“I thought my appearance in Neighbours could be the start of a comeback, but that wasn’t to be. There were creative disagreements from the start of shooting.
“My biggest gripe was that I didn’t actually get much real dialogue. The writers were a pretty lazy bunch and fell back on the old Skippy practice of having me just say ‘tk tk tk’ with Millsy translating. You know, ‘What’s that Skip?’
“I didn’t really get a single line of dialogue that could have let me show my range as an actor and possibly snare some future roles.
“I also noticed that the props person had a set of kangaroo paw bottle openers on stand-by to substitute for my own. It wasn’t even going to be me that was seen on screen in any close-up action.
“So after a day on set I just said, fuck this, and hopped off. It’s now up to the producers and writers to rescue whatever they can from what we shot.
“I am very sorry it came to that and I regret I couldn’t do more to help bushfire victims. So I’ve made my own donation to one of the major charity funds,” Skippy said.