Lift Off (Australian TV series)

Lift Off is an Australian children's television series that was broadcast on ABC Television from 1992 until the series ended in 1995. Each episode featured a live action storyline about a group of young children, and the problems they encountered with growing up, their parents, and various other social issues. Episodes would also feature segments of short animation, puppetry and documentary segments, as well as various songs, stories, and word games. Aimed at 3 to 8 year olds based on the ideas of Harvard University development psychologist Howard Gardner. The series was linked with the school curricula through the Curriculum Corporation of Australia. The different episodes used stories and locations to explore subjects such as jealousy, loneliness and anger. The puppet characters were designed by illustrator Terry Denton and were constructed by the sculptor Ron Mueck.

Lift Off
Written by
  • Nancy Black
  • Garth Boomer
  • Bob Ellis
  • John Hepworth
  • Rick Maier
  • Jeff Peck
  • Tony Watts
Directed by
  • Steve Jodrell
  • Paul Nichola
StarringErin Pratten
Paul Cheyne
Cameron J Smith
Nikita Plummer (Season 2)
Luke Carroll
Aku Bielicki
Heber Yerien (Season 1)
Robert Peschel
Mario Filintatzis (Season 2)
Jared Daperis (Season 2)
Maria Nguyen
Jessica 'Leehy' Campbell
Mark Mitchell
Theme music composerChris Neal
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of series2[1]
No. of episodes78
Production
Executive producer(s)Patricia Edgar
Producer(s)
  • Patricia Edgar
  • Margot McDonald
  • Ewan Burnett
  • Rob Pemberton
  • Susie Campbell
  • Peter Clarke
  • Peter Jackson
Release
Original networkABC TV
Original release8 May 1992 (1992-05-08) 
24 March 1995 (1995-03-24)
External links
Website

Cast

Children

  • Poss Burke - Erin Pratten: A blonde haired, blue eyed young girl. Poss is Nipper's and Annie's big sister and the Burke's eldest child.
  • Nipper Burke - Paul Cheyne: A blonde haired, blue eyed little boy. Nipper is Poss's little brother, Annie's big brother and the Burke's middle child.
  • Annie Burke - Nikita Plummer (Season 2): A blonde haired, blue eyed preschooler-aged girl. Annie is Poss's and Nipper's little sister and the Burke's youngest child. Up until Season 2, Annie was known as "Baby Annie".
  • Paul Jordan - Luke Carroll: A brown haired, brown eyed, Aboriginal young boy. He is Aku's big half-brother and the Jordan's eldest child.
  • Aku Jordan - Aku Bielicki: A brown haired, brown eyed, half-Aboriginal, half-African-American little girl. She is Paul's little half-sister and the Jordan's youngest child.
  • Turbo Garcia - Heber Yerien (Season 1): A brown haired, brown eyed adolescent boy who assists Snap Jordan in her "fix it" business. He is Max's big brother and the Garcia's eldest child.
  • Max Garcia - Robert Peschel: A brown haired, brown eyed young boy who is deaf and requires a hearing aid. He is Turbo's little brother and the Garcia's youngest child.
  • Marco Ponti - Mario Filintatzis (Season 2): A brown haired, brown eyed, disabled little boy who requires a wheelchair in some occasions. He is Raph's and "Baby Ponti's" big brother and the Ponti's eldest child. He, along with his family, moved into the Garcia's apartment in the very beginning of the first episode in Season 2 ("Brand New").
  • Raph Ponti - Jared Daperis (Season 2): A brown haired, brown eyed preschooler-aged boy. He is Marco's little brother, "Baby Ponti's" big brother and the Ponti's middle child. He, along with his family, moved into the Garcia's apartment in the very beginning of the first episode in Season 2 ("Brand New").
  • Kim Stinson - Maria Nguyen: A young Asian girl, who was adopted. She is the Stintson's only child.
  • Jessica Carnell - Jessica 'Leehy' Campbell

Adults

  • Jenny Burke - Madeleine Blackwell: Poss's, Nipper's and Annie's mother.
  • Ted Burke - David Sandford: Poss's, Nipper's and Annie's father, who works as a musician, singer, and songwriter.
  • Snap Jordan - Aku Kadogo (season 1): Aku's biological mother and Paul's step-mother, who is of African-American descent. She, along with Turbo, runs a "fix it" business. She was replaced by her husband James; who is Paul's and Aku's biological father; after she moved back to the United States in Season 2.
  • James Jordan - Lafe Charlton (season 2): Paul's and Aku's biological father, who is of Aboriginal descent. He replaces his wife Snap for the "fix it" business.
  • Teresa Garcia - Irini Pappas (season 1): Turbo's and Max's mother.
  • Ricardo Garcia - Petru Gheorghiu (season 1): Turbo's and Max's father.
  • Carla Ponti - Nadia Coreno (season 2): Marco's and Raph's mother.
  • Franco Ponti - John Orcsik (season 2): Marco's and Raph's father, who works as a firefighter.
  • Stella Stinson - Louise Le Nay: Kim's adoptive mother, who works as a real estate agent.
  • Harry Stinson - Alan Fletcher: Kim's adoptive father, who works as an architect.
  • Mr. (Seymour) Fish - Mark Mitchell: One of the most memorable characters and major antagonist of Lift Off, Mr. Fish was the caretaker of the small apartment building where the characters lived. He was often seen yelling at the children from behind his desk in the apartment foyer when they came in from the outside. He owned numerous signs, which he used to threaten the children. In the very last episode of the second season finale ("From Where I Stand") he confiscated EC and felt guilty about it, which caused him to toss and turn when he tried sleeping while he was feeling sick due to a cold, EC came to him (the only time EC moved in front of an adult), calmed him down and gave him a dream about what if he had EC in his childhood. After the dream, he gave EC back to the kids in exchange for a telescope. the final shot was of him looking sad as he saw a happier version of him as a kid holding EC.
  • "Mumsy" Fish - Mark Mitchell: Mr Fish's mum, who constantly drops in unannounced to check on Mr Fish. Despite the fact that he is an adult now, Mumsy treats him as if he is a child, much to Mr Fish's embarrassment and disgust. Throughout the series it is implied that she would not allow Seymour to run around and get dirty when he was a child.
  • Bonza Men - Matt Quartermaine and Matt Parkinson

Puppet characters

CharacterPuppeteer
BorisJohn Rogers
MorrisDavid Collins (Season 1)
Sean Masterson (Season 2)
DorisJanette Dalgliesh (Season 1)
Megan Cameron (Season 2)
WolfHugh Simpson (Season 1)
Frank Italiano (Season 2)
BossLiza-Mare Syron
NearlyPhilip Millar (Season 1)
Malcolm Martin (Season 2)
ZeldaLiz Rule
CookWill Conyers (Season 1, voice)
Peter Wilson (Season 1, hands)
Rod Primrose (Season 2, voice)
Bob Parsons (Season 2, hands)
LonelyRoy McNeill (voice, sometimes)
Peter Wilson (Season 1, hands)
Bob Parsons (Season 2, hands)
Oscar the Orange OcelotFrank Italiano (Season 2)
ECPeter Wilson (Season 1)
Bob Parsons (Season 2)
BeverleyPeter Wilson (Season 1)
Bob Parsons (Season 2)
RockyWill Conyers (Season 1, voice)
Peter Wilson (Season 1, live action segments)
John Rogers (Season 2, voice)
Bob Parsons (Season 2, live action segments)
MockiLiz Rule
GnocchiJanette Dalgliesh (Season 1)
Frank Italiano (Season 2)
RapsakHugh Simpson (Season 1)
SnapsakLiz Rule
DippisakDavid Collins (Season 1)
TweesakJanette Dalgliesh (Season 1)
GrumblesakJanette Dalgliesh (Season 1)
GabblesakHugh Simpson (Season 1)
ScruffsakDavid Collins (Season 1)

Assistant puppeteers included Roy McNeill, Heather Monk, Rod Primrose, Jenny Sherlock, Michelle Spooner, Sue Blakey, Jenny Ishmakovich and Liss Gabb.

Lotis (voiced by Julie Forsyth) is a computer-programmed, artificial-intelligent, magical lift in the apartment building. She tries to help the younger characters with their personal problems, but cannot understand more complex human behaviour and thinking.

Beverley is a one-eyed plant that lives in the apartment foyer. She shows short documentary clips about the episode's subject matter. (Beverley was puppeteered by Peter Wilson in the first season, and Bob Parsons in the second).

EC ("Every Child" and formerly "Elizabeth and Charlie")[2] is an automatic, animated, magical rag doll who is intended to appear to be genderless or even bisexual so as to be more widely relatable. At first, EC alternately stands for "Elizabeth and Charlie", which are the very first names that Poss and Kim give to EC in the very first episode in the first season ("A Load of Rubbish") before "Every Child" was accepted later. (EC was puppeteered by Peter Wilson in the first season, and Bob Parsons in the second).

Rocky the Frill-Necked Lizard is the leader of a colony of frilled-necked lizards. Rocky spies on the humans ("two-footers") and reports his findings to the rest of the colony. (Rocky was puppeteered by Will Conyers/Peter Wilson in the first season, and John Rogers/Bob Parsons in the second).

The Backsacks: the children's backpacks that came to life and spoke though their zipper mouths. There are 7 of them owned by each of the 7 Children. Each Backsack has a personality depending on their nicknames and gender roles. When Max and Turbo moved to the country in Season 2, their backsacks, Gabblesak and Grumblesak, were passed along to Raph and Marco. And when Paul was getting too old for his backsack, Dippisak, he passed him along to Annie, Poss's and Nipper's younger sister. These are:

  • Rapsak: Poss's backsack. He looks like a bug's head due to the antennae sticking out of his head. As the name suggests, he has an accent of a rastafarian, despite his straight, black flat-top hair and light pigmentation. (Puppeteered by Hugh Simpson in the first season)
  • Snapsak: Nipper's backsack. She has animal print allover; leopard print on her chin and lower jaw and tiger print on her upper jaw, cheeks and forehead. (Puppeteered by Liz Rule)
  • Dippisak: Paul's backsack in season 1 and Annie's backsack in season 2. He appears to be cross-eyed and is a little bit shy, nervous, and embarrassed when engaging a conversation with other backsacks. (Puppeteered by David Collins in the first season)
  • Tweesak: Aku's backsack. She has light pigmentation, straight, golden-brown flat-top hair, blue button eyes, and a two-tone jacket; pink with blue spots on her left side and blue with pinks triangles on her right side. She also has a British accent as well. (Puppeteered by Janette Dalgliesh in the first season)
  • Grumblesak: Turbo's backsack in season 1 and Marco's backsack in season 2. Due to the role changes of Grumblesak's gender in season 1 and 2, it is unclear that "she" appears as a transgender. As the name suggests, she has a bit of an attitude problem when engaging a conversation with other backsacks. (Puppeteered by Janette Dalgliesh in the first season)
  • Gabblesak: Max's backsack in season 1 and Raph's backsack in season 2. He is the only backsack to have only one eye instead of two as well as his American accent. He can be very loud sometimes and often raises his voice at other backsacks when engaging them in a conversation. (Puppeteered by Hugh Simpson in the first season)
  • Scruffsak: Kim's backsack. He is blue with orange curly hair. As the name suggests, he has isolated teeth and is a bit of a mess sometimes when engaging in a conversation with the other backsacks. (Puppeteered by David Collins in the first season)

Wakadoo Café puppet characters

  • Boris: The ugliest and most ignorant of the three pigs. (Puppeteered by John Rogers)
  • Morris: Morris is slightly less antagonising than Boris but is still a pain. (Puppeteered by David Collins in the first season and Sean Masterson in the second)
  • Doris: Doris is the only female pig but is just as aggravating as Boris and Morris. (Puppeteered by Janette Dalgliesh in the first season and Megan Cameron in the second)
  • Wolf: Wolf is employed as an entertainer, along with the three pigs despite their love/hate relationship. Though he is very self-centred and arrogant on the outside, he has been known to show his kind side, proving that he does indeed have a good heart on the inside. (Puppeteered by Hugh Simpson in the first season and Francesco "Frank" Italiano in the second)
  • Boss: The rather strict manager of the café, it's not uncommon for the café's employees to hold a grudge against her, though this never lasts long, as despite her rudeness, Boss' good side often shines through in the end. Her real name is Hortense. (Puppeteered by Liza-Mare Syron)
  • Nearly: A kind-hearted and clumsy member of the group. He is in charge of the drinks. Nearly is prone to depression and is very nervous around others. (Puppeteered by Philip Millar in the first season and Malcolm Martin in the second)
  • Zelda: Nearly's sister. She works as a waitress and is very popular among the café's customers. (Puppeteered by Liz Rule)
  • Cook: Cook is a true artiste, and seemingly the café's only kitchen employee. He is very sensitive, especially about his cooking, but is respected by the others. (Puppeteered by Will Conyers/Peter Wilson in the first season and Rod Primrose/Bob Parsons in the second)
  • Lonely: A quiet and shy character who does not appear to have any friends, though he claims to be waiting for someone and has been doing so for a very long time. (Puppeteered by Roy McNeill/Peter Wilson in the first season and Roy McNeill/Bob Parsons in the second)
  • Oscar the Orange Ocelot: A criminal ocelot in disguise who camouflages himself and frames others to stay out of trouble. Despite that, he was once Lonely's friend. (Puppeteered by Franceso "Frank" Italiano in the second season)

Episodes

Season 1 (1992)

Episode 1 and 2: A Load of Old Rubbish (8 May 1992)

Episode 3 and 4: Destroy (15 May 1992)

Episode 5 and 6: Which One? (22 May 1992)

Episode 7 and 8: That's Not Fair (29 May 1992)

Episode 9 and 10: Because It Feels Good (5 June 1992)

Episode 11 and 12: Into The Unknown (12 June 1992)

Episode 13 and 14: Once I Grew (19 June 1992)

Episode 15 and 16: Something Tells Me (26 June 1992)

Episode 17 and 18: The Wheel Turns (3 July 1992)

Episode 19 and 20: Out Of Order (10 July 1992)

Episode 21 and 22: Above and Beyond (17 July 1992)

Episode 23 and 24: I Can! (24 July 1992)

Episode 25 and 26: Remember (31 July 1992)

Episode 27 and 28: Clash (7 August 1992)

Episode 29 and 30: For Sale (14 August 1992)

Episode 31 and 32: Face (21 August 1992)

Episode 33 and 34: Going Under (28 August 1992)

Episode 35 and 36: Illusion Is All (4 September 1992)

Episode 37 and 38: Beneath The Skin (11 September 1992)

Episode 39 and 40: Real Friends (18 September 1992)

Episode 41 and 42: Lost (25 September 1992)

Episode 43 and 44: Funday (2 October 1992)

Episode 45 and 46: No Entry (9 October 1992)

Episode 47 and 48: Wanting (16 October 1992)

Episode 49 and 50: Threads (23 October 1992)

Episode 51 and 52: All Together Now (30 October 1992)

Season 2 (1995)

Series two premiered on 17 February 1995.[3]

Episode 53 and 54: Brand New (17 February 1995 and 20 February 1995)

Episode 55 and 56: Under Pressure (21 February 1995 and 22 February 1995)

Episode 57 and 58: What's Missing (23 February 1995 and 24 February 1995)

Episode 59 and 60: My World (27 February 1995 and 28 February 1995)

Episode 61 and 62: Would I Lie (1 March 1995 and 2 March 1995)

Episode 63 and 64: Give and Take (3 March 1995 and 6 March 1995)

Episode 65 and 66: Far Out (7 March 1995 and 8 March 1995)

Episode 67 and 68: Out of This World (9 March 1995 and 10 March 1995)

Episode 69 and 70: Shape I'm In (13 March 1995 and 14 March 1995)

Episode 71 and 72: Heroes (15 March 1995 and 16 March 1995)

Episode 73 and 74: In Your Shoes (17 March 1995 and 20 March 1995)

Episode 75 and 76: Not Alone (21 March 1995 and 22 March 1995)

Episode 77 and 78: From Where I Stand (23 March 1995 and 24 March 1995)

Discography

  • Songs from Lift Off 1 (1992) - ABC Music
  • More Songs from Lift Off 2 (1992) - ABC Music
  • Wakadoo Cafe (1993) - ABC Music
  • EC's Favourite Songs (1993) - ABC Music
  • Songs and Stories from Lift Off (1994) - ABC Music
  • Wakadoo Rap and Other Songs and Stories from Lift Off 2 (1995) - ABC Music
  • Brand New Songs from Lift Off (1995) - ABC Music
  • Lift Off Live: Songs from the Musical (1995) - ACTF Records

Videography

  • Lift Off at the Wakadoo Cafe (1992) - ABC Video
  • The Story of EC (1992) - ABC Video
  • Mr. Fish and Lotis (1992) - ABC Video
  • The Animated Stories (1992) - ABC Video
  • EC, Nipper and Aku (1993) - ABC Video
  • Songs from Lift Off (1993) - ABC Video
  • EC and the Lift Off Kids (1993) - ABC Video
  • EC, Poss and Kim (1994) - ABC Video
  • Imagine, EC and Me (1995) - ABC Video
  • Lift Off To Fire Safety (1995) - Australian Children's Television Foundation

International Broadcast

References

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