Growing up in the UK in the late 1970s meant many a summer holiday morning filled with classic children's' TV programmes. You could start with The Banana Splits then move onto The Flashing Blade, Why Don't You and finally a TV-movie like Barnaby & Me.
Barnaby & Me is a cheaply made but utterly charming TV-movie. It concerns the adventures of a conman (Sid Caesar) just arrived in Australia who finds himself ejected the hard way from a merchant ship after cheating the crew at cards. He ends up destitute in the garden of Juliet Mills who takes him into her small family which includes a Koala Bear named Barnaby.
They all then proceed to various adventures involving "Happy Bars" (would have a different connotation these days), dodgy businessmen and Russian defectors. A tennis match featuring an old Australian pro also makes it into the mix.
The whole thing is handled with gentle care and affection with some good comic moments provided by the ever reliable Caesar (who afterwards confessed he had no recollection making the movie) and also Mills provides the emotional backbone necessary to give depth to the family aspect. Barnaby the Koala provides the narration and before you groan and think of Look Who's Talking and Babe, honestly, this is done in a witty and sarcastic delivery style (think Phil Silvers/Bilko). Look out for when Barnaby berates the Props Department and you'll know what I mean.
You will not find Barnaby & Me on DVD, it is simply too dated and old fashioned for these Pixar times. But if you should come across it in your programme guide, do yourself a favour and hit the record button and then sit down and watch it as a family. You will all find Barnaby & Me as warm and as sunny as those endless summer days you remember from the long ago.
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