Lift-Off: What happened to the cast of this iconic Aussie kids' show?

Everything old is new again with a look back at these children's TV show stars!

It's been over 30 years since kids' TV show Lift-Off launched on the ABC. It was innovative in how it showed children from different cultures and backgrounds and the problems they encountered growing up.

Using a combination of documentary and fantasy storytelling, it helped prepare kids aged three to eight for school and the world around them.

Lift Off! was a huge production that involved 350 animators and 150 writers, actors, artists, puppeteers, technicians, musicians, film crew and production hands.

Both child and adult actors were used in the show – but what happened to the most well-known of these?

Mark Mitchell - Mr Fish

If you remember Lift Off then you remember grouchy Mr Fish, the concierge of the apartments where all the kids and their families lived.

Mark Mitchell as Seymour Fish in Lift-Off.
Mark Mitchell was comedy gold as grouchy concierge Seymour Fish in Lift-Off. Photo: YouTube/@LiftOffTheCompleteTVSeries
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01 Mark Mitchell is an Australian actor, comedian and contemporary artist, best known for his character Con the Fruiterer. January 01, in Melbourne, Australia.
Mark Mitchell is also remembered for his character Con the Fruiterer from The Comedy Company. Photo: Getty Images

Mark was already well-known on the comedy scene, starring in The Comedy Company, playing characters such as Con the Fruiterer. But Lift-Off gave him a start in children's TV, and he went on to roles in Round the Twist, The Genie from Down Under and The Flamin' Thongs.

"I think shows that make you happy will always leave a huge, indelible imprint in memory, but also in emotion," he revealed to the Australian Children's Television Foundation about why he is remembered for his iconic roles in kids' TV shows.

Most recently, Mark appeared in the 2021 SBS TV miniseries New Gold Mountain.

Alan Fletcher - Harry Stinson

Alan Fletcher played architect Harry who adopted daughter Kim with his wife.

But Alan is probably better known now for playing Dr Karl Kennedy on Neighbours, a role he's played for almost 30 years.

Did you remember that he was in Lift-off first?

Alan Fletcher as Mr Stinson in kids show Lift-Off.
Before he was Karl Kennedy, Alan Fletcher was Mr Stinson in kids' show Lift-Off. Photo: YouTube/@LiftOffTheCompleteTVSeries
The O.C.'s Mischa Barton (Pictured with Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne) is joining the show playing American Reece Sinclair who is described as dynamic and unpredictable. Photo: Instagram/@neighbours
Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne who play Karl and Susan Kennedy with new Neighbours star Mischa Barton. Photo: Instagram/@neighbours

John Orcsik - Franco Ponti

John Orcsik played Marco and Raph's dad who worked as a firefighter on the show. John was a prolific actor already, featuring in The Flying Doctors, A Country Practice and Home And Away, and was married to fellow Australian actor Paula Duncan.

Since Lift-Off, John has appeared in Neighbours, Superwog and New Gold Mountain alongside Mark Mitchell. Next up, he will be starring in and directing TV series Bunchie, which is currently in production.

Paulan Duncan and John Orcsik arrive for the world premiere of the film 'Strange Bedfellows' at the Albury Cinema Centre on April 08, 2004 in Albury Australia.
John Orcsik, who played fireman Franco in Lift-Off, with wife at the time Paula Duncan. Photo: Getty Images

Jared Daperis - Raph Ponti

Jared was just six when he played Raph in Lift-Off. But even in his first role, others recognised his acting talent.

Jared Daperis as Raph in Lift-Off.
Jared Daperis was only six when he started playing Raph in Lift-Off. Photo: YouTube/@LiftOffTheCompleteTVSeries

"One thing I will never forget about Jared was... even though he was four to five years younger than me, I was very impressed with his ability to act at such a young age," Mario Filintatzis who played his onscreen brother revealed.

After Lift-Off, Jared had main roles in shows such as Ponderosa, Ocean Star, Holly's Heroes and Underbelly. Despite later performances being compared with that of a "young Mel Gibson", Jared, 33, decided he preferred the other side of the camera and is now focusing on directorial work.

Mario Filintatzis - Marco Ponti

Mario played Marco Ponti the eldest son of Franco who due to his spinal bifida sometimes needed a wheelchair.

"What I did love about Lift-Off and the portrayal of disability in both series was that it taught young viewers to never discriminate towards people who might seem different, because we weren’t," Mario revealed in 2020.

Mario Filintatzis in 2021 and on a VHS cover of TV show Lift-Off
Mario Filintatzis played Mario in ABC's Lift-Off. Photo: Facebook/@mario.filintatzis

He has sinceleft acting behind him. "I was never interested [and] there was never an opportunity to pursue acting much after Lift-Off, especially as I was so young," he said.

"However, as an adult I’ve been involved in a couple of short films to promote disability awareness and advocacy. Being an advocate for people with disabilities is something I am very passionate about."

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