From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
The needs of television cannot be separated from New Zealand's needs to be a fully working democracy. And democracy is not just based on a choice of alternatives, but an informed choice. Gordon Dryden, during a 1970 public inquiry into the future of television
Breakfast first aired in August 1997 on TV One. Screening five mornings a week over a three hour time slot, the programme mixes news and entertainment interviews with updates of news, sport and weather. The format of one male and one female presenter began with original hosts Mike Hosking and Susan Wood, and has included Pippa Wetzell and Paul Henry (who won controversy for Breakfast comments about an Indian politician), and Brit Rawdon Christie and Alison Pugh. A Saturday version of Breakfast was trialled in 2011, but abandoned the next year.
“It’s hard to imagine our way of life before the box turned up in our living rooms.” Newsreader Dougal Stevenson presents this condensed history of New Zealand television’s first 15 years: from 60s current affairs and commercials, to music shows and early attempts at drama. The first part of a two-part special, this charts the single channel days of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation from its birth in 1960 until puberty in 1975, when it was split into two separate channels. Includes recollections from many of NZ TV’s formative reporters and presenters.
The day after attending a fiery public debate (see video above) over Africa's threatened boycotts of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Abraham Ordia, then-president of the African Council of Sport, sat down for a more subdued interview with Gordon Dryden. Ordia had arrived in New Zealand that week, hoping to convince Robert Muldoon to limit sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa. The PM refused to see him. Ordia recalls his Nigerian childhood, studying psychiatry in Zurich under Carl Jung, and makes a final plea to the viewer’s conscience on the issue at hand.
On June 4 1976, Gordon Dryden hosted Abraham Ordia — president of the African Supreme Council of Sport — for a public forum on New Zealand’s sporting ties with apartheid South Africa, which would result in an Olympic boycott by African countries the following month. The debate erupted into what the Auckland Star called “a diabolic confrontation between Māori and Pākeha”, with Dryden frequently pleading for civility. Weightlifter Precious McKenzie, MP Richard Prebble, activist Syd Jackson and Donna Awatere-Huata are among those in the audience, making their feelings known.
In this feisty late 1976 The Friday Conference interview, host Gordon Dryden holds Prime Minister Muldoon to account over his 1975 election pledges. Dryden challenges Muldoon’s touting of freedom (amidst price freezes, wage controls and an All Blacks tour to apartheid South Africa), and the PM's description of himself as a liberal (with heated talk about insults traded during the Colin Moyle affair). Dryden evokes the spectre of the McCarthy era, and a pugnacious Muldoon invokes “the ordinary bloke”. Muldoon later refused to be interviewed by Dryden again for the show.
Hosted by broadcaster Gordon Dryden, and screening on the second television channel, The Friday Conference aimed to be a public discussion forum as Dryden quizzed newsmakers of the day in-depth. In 1977 it shifted to Thursday nights. It was the first New Zealand current affairs programme to regularly use studio audiences. Notable interviewees included Prime Minister Robert Muldoon and Abraham Ordia, president of Africa's Supreme Council for Sport (who helped spur the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics, over the All Blacks touring apartheid South Africa).
Telethon was a 24-hour live television spectacular aimed at securing donations from viewers for a charitable cause. The first, in 1975, launched the second channel (TV2) and raised over half a million dollars for St John's Ambulance. By 1981 Telethon had hit the $5 million mark. Along with willing local celebrities, volunteers and a receptive public, it attracted overseas stars: Basil Brush, Entertainment Tonight's Leeza Gibbons and Coronation Street's Christopher Quinton (who famously got together after the 1988 show). "Thank you very much for your kind donation!"
This 1975 general election leaders' debate sees Prime Minister Bill Rowling (Labour) square off against contender Robert Muldoon (National) in front of a panel (Bruce Slane, Gordon Dryden, David Beatson). Rowling had been in the job a year, after the death of Norm Kirk, and Muldoon paints him as a drifter in the face of the first oil shock. It was one of three pre-election specials made for NZ TV’s new second channel. This is filmed in black and white, but during this campaign National exploited newly-arrived colour TV via the infamous ‘Dancing Cossacks’ ads.
Made six years after local TV broadcasting began, this wide-ranging 1966 documentary looks at the past and future of television in NZ. Political science lecturer Reg Harrison examines local content, a second channel, private enterprise, transmission challenges, editorial independence, sports coverage, and how TV’s expansion has affected other pursuits, and children. The doco includes interviews with privacy-keen Gordon Dryden and film legend Rudall Hayward, and MPs. Director Gordon Bick later argued that the NZBC had allowed "a good deal of criticism against itself" on screen.