Corgi models based on the Australian television show 'Chopper Squad'

08 April 2011
imports_CCGB_img-1546_40565.jpg Corgi models based on the Australian television show 'Chopper Squad'
Mike Pigott takes a look at the Corgi models based on the Australian surf/rescue TV show. ...
Corgi models based on the Australian television show 'Chopper Squad' Images

Besides diecast models, one of my great interests is the history of Australian television and it’s a subject I have long wanted to write about. However, as I specialise in writing about model vehicles for a British magazine, it’s not something I get to do very often. In fact, this is my first – and probably only – opportunity to do it because these Corgi Toys from ‘Chopper Squad’ are the only examples of diecast models based on an Australian TV programme...

In the mid-1970s, the commercial networks cancelled their big-budget cop shows in favour of large numbers of soap operas, which were cheaper to make and could be screened several times a week. One exception to the rule was a new drama based on the adventures of a helicopter surf-lifesaving team, called ‘Chopper Squad’ (though the name sounded more like a motorcycle gang). A pilot episode was made in 1976 by Channel 10, although this was never screened. A first series of 13 episodes was commissioned in 1977, followed by a further 13 the following year. While the pilot was made in-house by the TV station, the regular series was produced by Reg Grundy Productions, who were best known for quiz shows and soaps.

Filmed on Sydney’s northern beaches, it centred on a lifesaving team led by the oddly-named Jebbie Best, played by Dennis Grosvenor, who had previously starred in the long-running ‘Homicide’. His colleagues were Barry Drummond (Robert Coleby) and Phil Hardy (Eric Oldfield) plus the real star of the show, a blue and white Bell Jet Ranger helicopter.

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‘Chopper Squad’ was a very entertaining TV show. It had some great stunts and wonderful aerial views of Sydney’s beautiful beaches. However, some of the plots could seem very contrived and the dialogue was often quite corny. Some episodes were sequences of three or four unconnected rescues, while others didn’t seem to have a plot at all, just non-stop action scenes. Probably the most exciting episode involved a Sydney Harbour ferry colliding with a cargo ship and was filmed during a real-life simulation by the New South Wales emergency services...

*This is an excerpt of the article 'Aussie-style surf rescue' first published in Diecast Collector's May issue. To see which issues of Diecast Collector are available to buy online, click here

*Diecast Collector is a monthly magazine which focuses on all types of diecast models from Dinky Toys to Oxford Diecast