After presenting children's telly, sports and magazine shows in NZ (Spot On, That's Fairly Interesting, 3:45 LIVE!, Keoghan's Heroes), Phil Keoghan moved to the United States. In 2000 he was picked to host The Amazing Race, one of the most awarded shows in the history of reality television. Multiple Emmy-winner Keoghan has also written book No Opportunity Wasted, and created a bevy of accompanying TV series.
That’s what I say to people. Just watch it once. If I had a dollar for every person who said to me ‘I don’t watch reality television, but I watch The Amazing Race,’ I would be a gazillionaire.’ Phil Keoghan to the Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan, 6 October 2005
3:45 LIVE! was an afternoon links programme for kids that screened on TV2. Before he became world-famous as host of Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan was a presenter on the show in tandem with Hine Elder. In excerpts here, the pair interview Martin Phillipps of The Chills; expat singer Mark Williams; and the cast of Badjelly and the Witch. International stars on the couch include Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics), and rap singer Redhead Kingpin, who is off-the-wall. Phil and Hine also take off Judy Bailey and Richard Long before interviewing the newsreaders themselves.
No Opportunity Wasted is a reality show where Phil Keoghan (Amazing Race), ambushes contestants and bids them overcome a challenge with limited time (three days) and resources. This episode ditches the self-help aspect and ups the machismo by having a freezing worker, southern shepherd, champion rower, trans-Atlantic race winner, Kiwi league legend, and ex-Mr New Zealand compete in old school elimination challenges for NZ's 'toughest man' title. Future Olympic champ Eric Murray is the young buck wrestling for the hardman mantle with wily Mark 'Horse' Bourneville.
Hosted by Phil Keoghan not long before he left for the US, Short Sportz was a TV3 sports show encouraging kids to get involved in sports. Keoghan (later to win fame as host of Amazing Race) often kitted up himself Paper Lion-style: here he takes base against Black Sox pitches and cycles with future ironman champion Cameron Brown. This 1991 ‘best of’ show is notable for a segment presented by a rising Wainuiomata league star who’s just been signed by Newcastle Knights: Tana Umaga. Umaga’s NRL career was short-lived, and he went on to become an All Black legend.
In this episode of the beloved education-focused magazine programme for children the trio of presenters (Ole Maiava, Amber Cunliffe, and future Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan) get touchy with tuna (māori for eel) and other sea creatures. Cunliffe visits an eel fishery at Lake Ellesmere; then Maiava and Keoghan get close to kina, crabs and anemone at Otago University’s Marine Studies Centre. In the second segment Keoghan gets kitted up and meets with some Canterbury ice hockey enthusiasts; he manages, mostly, to stay on his feet, and tries out goal tending.
This TVNZ production showcases the phantasmagoria of fashion and theatre that is the Montana World of Wearable Art Awards. Models, performers, designers and founder Suzie Moncrieff are interviewed behind the scenes; then the creations take to the TSB Arena stage. A headliner of Wellington’s events calendar, WOW moved to the capital from Nelson in 2005. Breakfast TV hosts Sarah Bradley and ex-Tall Black Brendon Pongia present the awards, crowning ovine-themed ‘Rattle Your Dags’ 2007's supreme winner. Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan appears as a mad hatter.
Phil Keoghan’s pre-Amazing Race screen education included profiling Kiwi adventure sport thrillseekers in a series of short vignettes for TV3’s Mobil Sport. Scored to a sampler of early 90s pop music, these clips focus mostly on rad airborne acrobats: a ‘para-bungee’, the then-new sport of skysurfing, riding atop a Tiger Moth, Phil losing the sponsor’s product flying with veteran fighter pilot Bryan Cox, plus surfing down sand dunes on snowboards. Keoghan later took the Keoghan’s Heroes concept to Canada and the United States (including a slot on CBS news).
This wryly-titled 80s show was a homegrown take on US show That’s Incredible!, with the spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings of the original replaced with more downbeat kiwiana kitsch subjects. This excerpt from an end of season review looks at highlights from presenter Phil Keoghan’s contribution. The future Amazing Race host tries a spaghetti eating competition (post-bungy jumping), giraffe feeding, land sailing, snowboarding, male cheerleading, cow pat tossing and a cowboy up challenge. TFI was the first series from production company Communicado.
No Opportunity Wasted was a reality show devised by Phil Keoghan, Emmy Award-winning Kiwi host of The Amazing Race. In the show Keoghan ambushed contestants and gave them a limited time (three days) and limited resources (usually $3000) to ditch the excuses and "live life now". Challenges included swimming with sharks, building a giant community playground, and a NZ tough guy competition (that included future Olympic champion rower Eric Murray). The New Zealand edition followed on from the inaugural series that screened on Discovery Channel in the US in 2004.
Spot On was an award-winning education-focused magazine programme for children. Presenters who got their break on the popular series include Ian Taylor, Danny Watson, Phil Keoghan and Ole Maiava. Keoghan went on to international fame as host of The Amazing Race; Taylor now heads up Taylormade Productions and Animation Research Ltd. Janine Morrell directed on the show, and producer Michael Stedman later became head of the Natural History Unit. Peter Jackson, Robert Sarkies and Paul Middleditch all entered the show’s annual ‘Young Filmmaker’ competition.
Gloss was a popular Kiwi television drama series made by TVNZ that screened in the late 80s; it combined a wealthy family, the Redferns, with a lucrative high-fashion magazine business. Yuppies, shoulder-pads and méthode champenoise abound in this cult "glamour soap". New Zealanders wanted to see themselves as less bottom of the world and more "here we come and we are sailing" (as the infamous Cup campaign song warbled), and Gloss was just what the era demanded.
This 80s relic was a homegrown take on US show That's Incredible!, with spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings replaced with subjects that were more kiwiana kitsch than wow! It was the first show from production company Communicado; presenters included Tim Shadbolt, Neil Roberts, Sue Kedgley, Phil Gifford and Phil Keoghan. In a Vanity Fair interview to illustrate Kiwi's "enormous understatement" Jane Campion famously quipped: "You know, they used to have a program on TV in New Zealand, That's Fairly Interesting. [...] In America, it's That's Incredible!"
3:45 LIVE! was an afternoon links programme for young people that screened from 1989 - 1990. As well as linking afternoon programmes on TV2, the show included interviews with prominent (local and international) music stars, sports heroes and media personalities of the time, from rapper Redhead Kingpin and Eurythmics' star Dave Stewart to newsreader Judy Bailey and All Black Gary Whetton. Presenters included a young Phil Keoghan (of future-Amazing Race fame), Hine Elder, Rikki Morris, and Fenella Bathfield.