AustLit logo
Howard Rubie Howard Rubie i(A112590 works by) (a.k.a. Howard William Rubie)
Born: Established: 27 Aug 1938 Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 18 Jun 2011 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

Works By

Preview all
1 form y separately published work icon Escape of the Artful Dodger David Phillips , Robert Loader , Karen Petersen , Roger Mirams , ( dir. Howard Rubie et. al. )agent Australia : Reg Grundy Enterprises The Producers Group Nine Network , 2001 7392751 2001 series - publisher film/TV historical fiction

'Tells the story of Jack Dawkins, introduced in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist as the Artful Dodger, the fastest-talking, nimblest-fingered young pick-pocket in London. As he side-steps and ducks his way from one disaster to another, the Dodger comes to realise that his voyage to Australia may be a real escape from his old life, an opportunity to be not a crook, but a hero.'

Source: Screen Australia.

1 form y separately published work icon Search for Treasure Island Judith Colquhoun , David Phillips , Chris Roache , Jenny Sharp , Hugh Stuckey , Jo Horsburgh , Robert Loader , Karen Petersen , ( dir. Robert Klenner et. al. )agent Melbourne : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1998-2000 Z1848750 1998-2000 series - publisher film/TV fantasy children's young adult

Seven people are shipwrecked on the 'Treasure Island' of which Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, and need to find a way to escape the island. Unfortunately, the island is isolated by a ferocious storm called the Maelstrom. The island itself, as the shipwrecked newcomers find, is divided into three tribes (the Samurai, the Traders, and the Horselords), who feud fiercely among themselves. Looming over all is the sinister figure of Dante, who fears the newcomers are a threat to his control over the island.

Search for Treasure Island was another production from Roger Mirams, responsible for such Australian television programs as The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten, The Magic Boomerang, Adventures of the Seaspray, The Lost Islands, Runaway Island, Secret Valley, Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin, and Mission Top Secret.

The two seasons of Search for Treasure Island aired two years apart, the first in 1998 and the second in 2000.

1 form y separately published work icon Mission Top Secret David Phillips , Mark Shirrefs , John Thomson , David Worthington , Jean-Jacques Gaffie , Serge Lazareff , Benjamin Legrand , Christine Schofield , ( dir. Colin Budds et. al. )agent Australia : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1994 Z1844347 1994 series - publisher film/TV adventure children's

When twelve-year-old Jemma accidentally taps into a disused telecommunications satellite, she uses her new network to form a worldwide crime-fighting syndicate.

Mission Top Secret was another production by New Zealand-born television producer Roger Mirams, whose previous contributions to Australian children's television included The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten, The Magic Boomerang, Adventures of the Seaspray, The Lost Islands, Secret Valley, Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin, and Runaway Island.

Typically for a Roger Mirams' production, Mission Top Secret focuses on the independence and capability of the child protagonists, with adults limited to the roles of either advisor (Sir Joshua Cranberry) or villain (Neville Savage).

Although the program is listed in certain places (e.g., the Internet Movie Database) as an Australia/Spain/United Kingdom/New Zealand/The Netherlands co-production, the scripts were all by Australian writers, with the exception of the four episodes scripted by French television script-writers Jean-Jacques Gaffie and Benjamin Legrand.

1 form y separately published work icon Bay City Murray Oliver , Ken Kelso , Trevor Todd , Roger Vaughan Carr , ( dir. Andrew Prowse et. al. )agent Perth : Nomad Films , 1993 7227598 1993 series - publisher film/TV children's adventure

'A family action adventure series about four children who live in a small city on Australia's west coast and their exciting and unpredictable adventures.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 9/4/2014)

1 form y separately published work icon The Phantom Horsemen David Phillips , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1990 Z1876258 1990 single work film/TV adventure fantasy children's

'THE PHANTOM HORSEMEN is an adventure set in early Sydney. A mysterious masked horseman is the only defence the colonists have against corrupt officials and marauding soldiery at the time of the Rum Rebellion'.

Source: Screen Australia.

1 form y separately published work icon Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin Bruce Stewart , Betty Quin , Rick Maier , Ron Saunders , Robert Guillemot , Roger Dunn , ( dir. Howard Rubie et. al. )agent Sydney : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1986 Z1827453 1986 series - publisher film/TV fantasy science fiction children's

Another Roger Mirams production, Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin was a spin-off from Mirams's previous series, Secret Valley. In this series, Professor Poopsnagle, grandfather of one of the Secret Valley children, is kidnapped while working on a means of stopping air pollution. The children, in an effort to save him, complete his half-built steam zeppelin (a combination of an old bus and a hot-air balloon) and set off in pursuit of six golden salamanders: each salamander contains the name of a mineral, and the six minerals combined will complete the professor's formula.

The children are aided by the professor's friend, Doctor García, and opposed by the sinister Count Sator, a retired local land magnate. In the figure of the latter and in the concern with environmental destruction, Professor Poopsnagle's Steam Zeppelin (like Secret Valley) echoes the concerns of other children's programs such as Falcon Island and series one of The Henderson Kids.

The program also touches on the iconography of the then nascent genre of steampunk: though the program does not borrow the British Victorian or American Wild West settings associated with steampunk, the zeppelin itself is a distinctly steampunk device. Moran notes, in his Guide to Australian TV Series, that 'The effect of the flying bus was achieved through a combination of front projection photography, a double set of models, and front shots and interiors of a real bus hoisted on a crane'.

The program was successful on Australian television, and also aired in Switzerland, Finland, Spain, Greece, The Netherlands, France, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom (where, unlike Secret Valley, it was immensely popular).

1 form y separately published work icon Runaway Island Paul Wheelahan , David Phillips , Ian Coughlan , ( dir. David Stevens et. al. )agent Sydney : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1985 Z1827440 1985 series - publisher film/TV

Another production by Roger Mirams, Runaway Island was a period drama, but like The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten, The Magic Boomerang, and Secret Valley, it focused strongly on independent child protagonists who operated in a world that was either largely without adults or in which the adults were antagonists.

In his Guide to Australian TV Series, Moran notes that the program follows the adventures of two children, Jamie and Jemma McLeod, who

see their father's lands and house in early Sydney Town seized by the wicked Captain Korkle, who has plans to become governor. To escape his soldiers, the children take off with a young pickpocket off the streets. They and other children escape to Runaway Island, an island off the Sydney coast. They are safe there, though they make some dangerous forays back into the town.

Moran notes that the production cost over $2 million, but was left languishing for more than two years before the Seven Network finally aired it. When Seven did air it, it attracted a reasonable audience, and sold in sixteen countries other than Australia.

As with his earlier productions, The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten and The Magic Boomerang, Mirams re-used actors from his previous show, Secret Valley, in this production (namely, the Buchanan siblings).

1 form y separately published work icon Chase Through the Night Rob George , John Cameron Emery , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : Independent Productions , 1985 Z1819512 1985 series - publisher film/TV children's crime thriller

Based on the children's novel by Max Fatchen, Chase Through the Night was a short children's series set in the Australian outback. Moran, in his Guide to Australian TV Series, offers the following synopsis:

Three desperate bank robbers on the run in a stolen car head for the bush into the small outback town of Caribun. They stop for petrol in an isolated general store and are recognised by Petra, a teenage girl. They bundle her into the car and continue their journey north. Arriving in the town, the robbers find that most of the townspeople have left for the long weekend. The few remaining townspeople defeat every attempt by the robbers to leave. The mini-series culminates in a violent chase on a stormy night.

1 form y separately published work icon Stock Squad Hugh Stuckey , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : Independent Productions Nine Network , 1985 7014652 1985 single work film/TV crime detective

'The stock squad, investigators of rural crime, find huge quantities of grain missing from a Government operated silo. Detective Santana discovers corruption runs deep, especially when the town 'ratbag' goes missing.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 10/2/2014)

1 form y separately published work icon Secret Valley Ghost Town Gang Bruce Stewart , Betty Quin , David Phillips , ( dir. Howard Rubie et. al. )agent Sydney : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1984 Z1827220 1984 series - publisher film/TV

Akin to other Australian television programs such as Falcon Island (1981) and The Henderson Kids (1985), Secret Valley revolved in part around the attempts of a group of children to protect a ghost town and its valley from the depredations of developers. In this instance, the children form the land into a weekend holiday camp, at which they both work and play; in this sense, Secret Valley is, as Moran notes in his Guide to Australian TV Series, something of a successor to Roger Mirams's first Australian production, The Terrific Adventures of the Terrible Ten. Another group of children, led by Spider McGlurk, also live in Secret Valley (in Spider Cave), leading to a number of confrontations.

Secret Valley began as a made-for-television film, and was expanded into a twenty-four-episode series.

Moran notes that the program 'wore its Australianness well, even down to having the Secret Valley soundtrack lyrics imposed on "Waltzing Matilda".' Despite being (in part) a Grundy production, the program first aired on the ABC in Australia, and was sold into Spain, the United Kingdom (where it was a commercial failure when it aired on ITV), and the Netherlands.

1 form y separately published work icon Special Squad Cliff Green , Vince Moran , Luis Bayonas , John Upton , Patrick Edgeworth , Philip Dalkin , Everett de Roche , Shane Brennan , Leon Saunders , David Phillips , Kris Steele , Michael Harvey , Vincent Gil , Michael Aitkens , ( dir. Peter Andrikidis et. al. )agent Melbourne : Crawford Productions , 1984 Z1816885 1984 series - publisher film/TV crime detective

An attempt to re-invoke the popularity that police procedurals had enjoyed a decade earlier, Special Squad was the most expensive program produced in Australia up to 1985 (at $150,000 per episode), yet received such lukewarm ratings that Channel Ten chose not to commission a second series.

According to Moran, in his Guide to Australian TV Series,

it was good to watch, with expert stunt work and special effects. With well-paced narratives, intelligently and nicely worked out situations and plenty of emphasis on the villains and victims, Special Squad was just as watchable and entertaining as Homicide had been in its last series.

According to Moran, the failure of Special Squad lay both in its difference from and its similarity to Homicide. The novelty (of Australian accents and Australian locations) that had helped make Homicide so successful was no longer in play, and 'the sight of tough men (on both sides of the law) made the program [Special Squad] seem very old-fashioned. In addition, the plethora of other Australian dramas on air at the time gave viewers more than enough alternatives.'

1 form y separately published work icon The Settlement Ted Roberts , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : Robert Bruning Productions , 1984 8140336 1984 single work film/TV

Two rovers set tongues wagging in a small town when they happily set up house with an ostracised member of the community (and former part-time prostitute).

1 form y separately published work icon Silent Reach Ted Roberts , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Sydney : Syme International Productions , 1983 Z1816581 1983 series - publisher film/TV adventure mystery Hamish Wrightson hires ex-CIA agent Steven Sinclair to protect his mining and processing interests in north-western Queensland.
1 form y separately published work icon Island Trader Ron McLean , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1982 7259319 1982 single work film/TV adventure children's

'A children's action adventure set in the South Pacific islands. The Island Trader is an old steam-driven tug that becomes the centre of a hunt for lost treasure after a plane, carrying gold bullion, comes down on Shark Island.'

Source: Screen Australia. (Sighted: 16/4/2014)

1 form y separately published work icon Bailey's Bird John McCallum , Ross Napier , Ted Roberts , ( dir. Peter Maxwell et. al. )agent Australia : Woomera Productions Seven Network , 1979 Z1820867 1979 series - publisher film/TV adventure

Bailey's Bird followed the adventures of a pilot and his teenage son, running a one-plane airline in Southeast Asia. According to Moran, in his Guide to Australian TV Series, the series partook of some of the elements of John McCallum's earlier productions for Fauna Productions, 'except that the locale was the waterways, jungles and villages of South-East Asia rather than an Australian national park complete with kangaroos and other native fauna. Nevertheless the series again had a young boy, father and others much in the "kidult" formula of Skippy, with a series of familiar narrative situations.'

An international co-production, the program didn't match the success of Skippy: according to Moran, 'By the late 1970s, adventure narratives even of the kidult variety were no longer being made in 30-minute units, so that Bailey's Bird could only be screened in children's viewing time.'

1 form y separately published work icon Chopper Squad Ron McLean , Tony Morphett , Robert Caswell , Don Battye , Denise Morgan , Everett de Roche , Peter Smalley , Colin Eggleston , Derek Strahan , Luis Bayonas , James Wulf Simmonds , Simon Wincer , Ross Napier , John Bramley , Bruce Wishart , Tom Mclennan , Colin James , Keith Hetherington , ( dir. Graeme Arthur et. al. )agent Sydney : Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1978 Z1826987 1978 series - publisher film/TV crime adventure

Chopper Squad follows the adventures of a helicopter surf rescue team based on Sydney's northern beaches, as they deal with various difficult rescues and occasionally come into close contact with desperate criminals.

The program suffered from long hiatuses between the pilot and series one, and between series one and series two. Furthermore, Don Storey notes, in his Classic Australian Television, that

Unfortunately, the quality of the scripts varied immensely. Some episodes had excellent dramatic narratives, and the viewers would be on the edge of their seats watching the rescue process. Other plots were contrived merely to justify the use of a helicopter, or to show off some other facet of the surf rescue operation, or were just corny. This variation in quality occurred not only from episode to episode, but quite often within an episode.

However, Storey concludes that

If the scripts left a lot to be desired, the same could not be said for the other aspects of the programme. The actors all gave good performances, and the technical quality is excellent by any standards. Extensive external location work was used, with internal sets being kept to a minimum. The camerawork is second to none, highlighting the magnificent scenery of the Sydney coastline to great effect.

Albert Moran, in his Guide to Australian TV Series, notes that 'World distribution rights to the series were bought by Paramount Pictures, which sold the production to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Britain'.

1 form y separately published work icon Cries From a Cold Aquarium John Upton , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Chatswood : Australian Film Television and Radio School , 1978 Z1465198 1978 single work film/TV A detailed study of the lack of communication that can exist between people, the narrative is primarily concerned with the lives of a businessman, his wife, and their friends.
1 form y separately published work icon The Scalp Merchant Ian Coughlan , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : TVW Enterprises Seven Network Reg Grundy Enterprises , 1978 6095393 1978 single work film/TV crime thriller mystery

'A private investigator is hired by an insurance company to recover a strongbox hidden by a prison escapee in a remote timber town.'

Source: Australian Television Information Archive. (Sighted: 27/6/2013)

1 form y separately published work icon Human Target Ron McLean , ( dir. Howard Rubie ) Australia : Nine Network , 1976 7262790 1976 single work film/TV thriller
1 form y separately published work icon Shannon's Mob Brian Faull , Alan Link , John Martin , ( dir. Brian Bell et. al. )agent Australia : Fauna Productions , 1975 Z1817369 1975 series - publisher film/TV thriller

A spy series set, according to Moran in his Guide to Australian TV Series, 'very much in the same locale and situation' as Contrabandits. The two spies work for FIASCO (Federal Intelligence and Security Control Organisation), run out of Canberra by the never-seen and rarely heard Dave Shannon.

Moran notes that Shannon's Mob was glossier than Contrabandits, but also mundane:

In its own eyes the company had made a fundamental mistake in not coming up with a formula that used some real point of Australian difference. Many other countries had harbours, boats, and water. For that matter the special investigation team headed by Shannon was very ordinary indeed.

In his Classic Australian Television, however, Don Storey suggests that 'The spectuacular scenery, particularly of the Harbour, is fully exploited.'

Shannon's Mob received poor treatment from the network (which persistently delayed its televisation) and was widely panned by critics when it did air, perhaps in part because the popularity of spy stories had peaked some decade earlier. Storey concludes:

It would be easy to suspect that the treatment of Shannons Mob, coinciding as it did with the cancellation of the three Crawford cop shows (Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police), was part of the plot to sabotage Australian production. However, there is no evidence or even speculation to suggest that anything was deliberately done against the series - although it would be safe to assume that in the prevailing climate nothing positive would have been done to help the series either.

In an early report on the series, The Australian Women's Weekly noted, 'All writers for the series will be Australian, and among them will be some of those who produced the most successful of the "Boney" scripts' (Wed. 10 October 1973, p.10).