MILESAGO - Television


Production: Godfrey Phillip Productions
ABC: Date:
1967-73 (production ceased in 1972, final year of screening was repeats)
Children’s program   
Production: Godfrey Productions / ABC, Melbourne
Duration: 1140 eps x 30 mins
Format: videotape, b/w

Producer/Director: Godfrey Phillip
Creators: Godfrey Phillip, John Michael Howson
Premiere: 11 December 1967

Ernie Bourne (Duchess Dora, Fester Fumble) 1968-72
Nancy Cato (Narrator) 1967-1969
Burt Cooper (Squire Squeezem)
Brian Crossley (Flower Potts)
Sue Donovan (Narrator) 1969-1972
Marion Edward (Dodo Panda) 1967-19??
Robert Essex (Miser Meany) 1968?-72
Mike Hardy (Wanda Wise)
Liz Harris (Liza)
Peter Homewood (Giggles Goblin) ?-1972
John Michael Howson (Clown) (1967-1972)
Jack Manuel (Percy Panda)
Colin McEwan (Miser Meany 1967-68, Marvello the Magician 1968)
Jim Smillie (Smilie Jim)



Hi ho, Hi ho
It's far away we go
To a land that's far across the sea

Hey hey, Hey hey
For a little while we'll stay
And be home in time for tea

Set sail, set sail
In sunshine or in gale
The fun we'll have will be really grand

Hurrah, hurrah
Follow the shining star
And come with us to Adventure Island!

Adventure Island was pioneering Australian children's programming -- entertaining, light-hearted, silly, theatrical, imaginative and funny. It proved tremendously popular with both adults and children alike and is fondly remembered by the generation who grew up with it. Created by Phillip and Howson, the show was developed and sold to the ABC after the cancellation of Philip's first children's series, the Ten Network's, The Magic Circle Club, which also featured Cato and Howson in the cast. 

Aimed at the 3-9 age group, Adventure Island was taped on Sundays and Mondays at the ABC's Melbourne studios and screened five afternoons per week; generally each episode was a self-contained story, although storylines sometimes extended across the entire five days. Howson, who had also been involved with The Go!! Show, was the main writer, and played one of the lead parts; most of the cast played multiple roles.

The main characters, who lived in the town of Diddley-Dum-Diddley, were Clown, Lisa, Percy and Dodo Panda, Flower Potts and Sailor. Each week they were pitted against dastardly villains Miser Meanie and his bumbling sidekick Fester Fumble. It successfully mixed traditional fairy tale elements with music, song, and humour; the pantomime tradition was an major inspiration, and adults were kept entertained by the high-camp performances of Bourne, McEwan, Essex and Howson.

From an industry perspective, Adventure Island was notable in several respects. It was one of the first instances in which the ABC 'outsourced' a program -- i.e. purchasing an externally-produced, pre-packaged program, rather than producing it 'in-house'. It was also the first Australian-made children's program to win a Logie, in 1968.

Adventure Island was a perennial ratings winner in its timeslot and it remained very popular, so there was widespread consternation when the ABC controversially cancelled the series in 1973, to make way for an American program, Sesame Street, with questions being asked in parliament about the effects on the local TV industry.

The original narrator, played by Nancy Cato, was replaced in 1969 by actress Sue Donovan, the wife of Division 4 star Terence Donovan. Their son, actor and singer Jason Donovan later followed them into show business, becoming a soapie star and pop singer; the one-time boyfriend of Neighbours co-star Kylie Minogue in the 1980s, Donovan more recently co-starred in the legal drama series MDA. Liz Harris, who played the heroine, Lisa, was the wife of Homicide star Leonard Teale

John-Michael Howson also worked as a writer for Graham Kennedy and is best known as a Hollywood gossip correspondent for magazines and variety shows including Mike Walsh and Don Lane; more recently he was co-writer of the award-winning musical Shout, based on the life of Johnny 'Keefe.

Comedian and actor Colin McEwan died in the Gold Coast Hospital on 22 August 2005 after a battle with cancer, aged 64. His radio, stage and television career spanned more than 40 years, but he was probably best known for his roles in the 1970s comedies The Naked Vicar Show and Kingswood Country. He was a long-serving radio announcer on 3AK in Melbourne and appeared regularly on the variety program In Melbourne Tonight. He also had straight roles in a string of TV series including Cop Shop, and in mini-series such as the Seven network's Brass Monkeys and Ten's Day of the Roses, about the Granville Train Disaster. A generation of Australian children will remember Colin fondly as Gasper Goblin in the pioneering national Channel 10 children's program The Magic Circle Club, and for playing the original Miser Meanie in Adventure Island. McEwan is survived by his wife Rae and his 32-year-old son David. His funeral was held on September 5 at the Allambie Gardens crematorium on the Gold Coast.


Thanks to Mark for additional information.

Albert Moran
Moran's Guide to Australian TV Series -
(AFTRS, 1993)

Tony Harrison
The Australian Film and Television Companion
(Simon & Schuster, 1994

TV Chronicles

OZTV Credits

ABC: Radio National website

Sydney Morning Herald
23 August 2005

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