After working his way up through the ranks of TVNZ in the 80s, producer Gavin Wood travelled the world to work on reality game shows across 10 countries. Alongside work on the local versions of popular game shows such as Wheel of Fortune, he produced live coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup opening ceremony on the Auckland waterfront — which went live to 1.5 billion people worldwide.
It was a privilege to share the very real pain of the tragedy with the nation. Gavin Wood, on producing the Pike River Memorial Service
Housing and property are New Zealand obsessions, as reflected on-screen in shows from The Elegant Shed to The Block. Hosted by Peter Elliott (Captain’s Log, Explorers), 2014 series The Art of the Architect highlights the role of the architect in each build. Eight one-hour long episodes follow architects as they respond to the challenges of sites, budgets, client demands, and the New Zealand environment. The designs range from private homes to community projects. Building delays led to the TVNZ series taking over four years to film.
This 2014 series looks at the role of architects on Kiwi building projects, as they respond to the challenges of budget, environment, site and client expectations. In this last episode of the series, host Peter Elliott asks if "architectural design can be financially achievable". He meets company Herbst Architects, and talks space, emotion and design for a steep Waiheke Island section, and a modular bach. Two fathers share the build of a John Irving-designed beach house; and a Point Chevalier house designed by A Studio aims for zero energy. Plus Elliott recaps the series' grand designs.
This 2010 series adapted the theatre comedy of Laughing Samoans Eteuati Ete and Tofiga Fepulea’i into a show on TV2, pairing sketches and interviews with excerpts from their stage show. In this opening episode Aunty Tala (Fepulea’i) receives a sign that a prospective husband is in Wellington and takes her niece Fai (Ete) to nab him. Their tour of the capital includes Te Papa, Cuba Street, The Backbencher Pub near Parliament, and Les Mills gym. Aunty Tala flirts with All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Ma’a Nonu, opera singer Ben Makisi, Prime Minister John Key and actor Robbie Magasiva.
In this June 1993 final of the successful quiz show, returning contestant Tony competes for a hand-knitted rug, a $16,000 US trip, and a box possibly containing a $29,000 Mitsubishi Mirage. Facing off against him are a policy services officer, and a hotshot language tutor who lived seven years in a barn. Aside from the nailbiting question rounds, highlights include Steve Parr’s opening slide, Jude Dobson’s dress, and male models in bright yellow overalls. This episode marked the end of Sale’s first local incarnation, after 1000 plus episodes on air. A short rebirth followed on TV3.
Wheel of Fortune is a game show that involves the solving of Hangman-style posers. Contestants spin the wheel to accrue prizes, guess letters that may be in the answer, and earn the right to roll again. The Kiwi edition was hosted by Phillip Leishman and Lana Coc-Kroft (with Simon Barnett later replacing Leishman). In a 1992 celebrity episode, Barcelona Olympic bronze medalist boxer (and future World Heavyweight challenger) David Tua, infamously requested the letter O, “for Awesome”. The show returned briefly in 2008 hosted by Jason Gunn and Sonia Gray.
The role of women in a traditionally male dominated profession is highlighted in this episode of Wellington police drama Shark in the Park. The episode was penned by Norelle Scott and directed by Ginette McDonald. New arrival 'Wally' (Joanna Briant) faces a baptism of fire from her colleagues — and a rough ride on the streets as a drunken couple's antics escalate into major problems for the thin blue line. The third episode of season one features Robyn Malcolm in her first screen role, while Mark Wright provides some late 80s colour as an inebriated yuppie.
The Kiwi edition of Sale of the Century is perhaps best remembered for Steve Parr’s opening slide to the podium. Prize-winners may have different recollections. “New Zealand’s biggest bargain sale” dangled the possibility of new cars and overseas travel. The show debuted in the United States in 1969, but had its greatest success after a 1980 relaunch by Australian company Grundy. The Aussie version ran almost 30 years, spawning versions in multiple countries. The NZ edition played for four seasons on TVNZ, before a short rebirth on TV3.
A big smoke cousin to Mortimer's Patch, Shark in the Park was New Zealand's first urban cop show. Devised by Graeme Tetley (Ruby and Rata), it portrayed a unit policing inner city Wellington, under the guidance of Inspector Brian 'Sharkie' Finn (Jeffrey Thomas). With its focus on the working lives of the officers, the show followed the character-based storytelling of overseas programmes like The Bill and Hill Street Blues. The first season marked one of the last in-house productions for TVNZ's drama department. The next two series were made independently by The Gibson Group.
Peppermint Twist’s pastel-tinted portrait of 60s puberty floated onto NZ screens in 1987 and despite winning a solid teen following, only screened for one series. Set amongst a group of teens in small town Roseville (in reality the outdoors set originally used for Country GP), the show’s stylised look and sound had few Kiwi precedents - though its links to US TV perennial Happy Days are clear. Peppermint made liberal, and increasingly confident use of period music, with each episode named after a pop song of the day.
Heart of the High Country saw NZ and the mother country getting into bed together, on and off the screen. The rags/riches/rags tale chronicles 18 years for Ceci (Valerie Gogan), a working class Brit who arrives in the South Island and fends off a series of mean-tempered pioneer males — and one long unrequited love. The Sam Pillsbury-directed mini-series played in primetime on ITV in the UK, and was funded by England’s Central TV and TVNZ. It shares storytelling DNA with earlier TV movie It’s Lizzie to Those Close; Brit Elizabeth Gowans scripted both.
Kingi (Mitchell Manuel) is a sultry teenager who encounters domestic violence and racism and veers down a path of petty crime. School ground punch-ups, stealing milk money and shoplifting see him placed under care of a social worker — and eventually Kingi runs out of chances. From writer-director Mike Walker, Kingi's Story tackles Māori youth and the path to delinquency and is based on the lives of a group of boys (including Manuel) who became wards of the state. It is the first part of a loose trilogy that includes Kingpin (1985) and Mark II (1986).