An actor who starred in the iconic 1960s Australian television show Skippy has lost a legal battle for a share of the millions of dollars it has generated in the past 40 years.
Tony Bonner played the dashing helicopter pilot, Jerry King, in the successful series which aired in more than 100 countries and spawned spin-offs including games, soft toys and videos.
However, Bonner's contract did not contain a provision for royalties and he has not earned any money from the show since leaving the set after the first series in 1968. Last year, after seeing Skippy released on DVD, he sued its production company, Fauna, for $A750,000 (£367,000) in the New South Wales Supreme Court.
But Justice Ian Gzell threw out the case yesterday, saying that Bonner, 65, had been paid $140 a week, in accordance with his contract and he was not entitled to a share of the profits, since he had assigned all rights to Fauna. Bonner was not available for comment yesterday but last year, he said: "Everyone assumes that all this time I've been receiving royalties, and they're gobsmacked to find out I haven't. My image has been used all these years without any recompense, or even a thank you. I'm honoured to be part of the most successful Australian series ever made, and probably one of the top 10 in the world, but I think it is time that a fair go and a sense of honour came to the fore," the actor said.
The series was set in a national park – Skippy was the pet of the park ranger's son. Viewers were gripped by the pair's adventures and the exploits of a kangaroo that could alert its human friends to trouble, as well as tie knots, see off venomous snakes and even play the piano.
Skippy has enjoyed extraordinary longevity. Just three series were made in the late 1960s yet the show continues to be screened overseas, including in Hong Kong, and Skippy is a universally recognised character.