Irene Gardiner is known for her work as a producer, TVNZ production unit head and commissioning editor. She has particular expertise in the area of popular factual programmes and documentaries. Gardiner also has a sideline career as a commentator on media issues on radio and television. She was NZ On Screen's Content Director from 2009 to 2016.
The most difficult thing about being a commissioning editor in New Zealand is that there are so many great programme ideas, and only the money to make a very small percentage of them. Irene Gardiner
The first episode of Jam TV’s 2013 series on inspirational Kiwis follows Helena McAlpine’s journey as she deals with terminal breast cancer. The ebullient spirit of the ex-C4 presenter permeates the episode, as she talks about her mental health struggles, her bucket list, living in the fast line, fishing with mate Clarke Gayford, leaving her daughter without a mum, advocacy work for cancer awareness campaigns, and the ‘McAlpine theory on life’ — choose to be happy. “I really don’t see myself as a sack of sadness”. McAlpine died on 23 September 2015.
This is the opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television: from an opening night puppet show in Auckland in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ on Air, Sky and Māori Television) and interviews many of the major players. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within a story.
This excerpt from the United Travel-sponsored travel show features presenter Clarke Gayford showing viewers around the Blanket Bay luxury lodge, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown. Gayford is joined by champion snowboarder (and Dancing with the Stars dancer) Hayley Holt for some heli-snowboarding, followed by an après ski spa and beer. For snow fans, the item features spectacular backcountry boarding runs. United Travel Getaway screened on Prime Television in 2007.
Teenage gang girl Tarnz speaks with brutal honesty about her extraordinary life in this documentary. From Maraenui, Napier, Tarnz formed her own girl gang in her teens, amassed 13 convictions and was imprisoned three times. Gang Girl - Tarnz Story was a finalist at the 2007 Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival in Canada. It was made alongside another girl gang documentary, Mob Daughters; both documentaries were produced by Front of the Box Productions and screened on TV2.
This documentary charts the journey of Auckland hip hop band Nesian Mystik, from their beginnings as an inner-city school band at Western Springs to gold albums and international acclaim. Filmed in New Zealand, London and Tonga the documentary explores the multi-cultural roots of the band members and the inspiration for their lyrics. Director Makerita Urale uses the Nesian Mystik story as a lens to reflect the wider picture of Māori, Pacific Island and Pakeha society in New Zealand.
Oft-derided across the dutch for its vowel-mangling pronunciation (sex fush'n'chups anyone?) and too fast-paced for tourists and Elton John to understand, is New Zealand's unique accent. Presented by Jim Mora, New Zild follows the evolution of New Zealand English, from the "colonial twang" to Billy T. Linguist Elizabeth Gordon explains the infamous HRT (High Rising Terminal) ending our sentences, and Mora interprets such phrases as 'air gun' (how are you going?). Features Lyn of Tawa in an accent face-off with Sam Neill and Judy Bailey.
In this documentary children of well known Kiwis discuss what it's like to live in the shadow of their parents. Featuring Natasha and Shaan Turner (Mum, Sukhi, was mayor of Dunedin and Dad, Glen, was a well-known New Zealand cricketer). Hinemoa Awatere reveals the bond she has with her mother, politician and activist Donna Awatere-Huata. Martin Crump is candid about Dad Barry's talents as well as his shortcomings, as is Sam Hunt's son, Tom. The Muldoon family remembers their father and grandfather, ex-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, fondly.
This Wayne Leonard documentary from 2002 goes on a journey to explore what defines Māori humour. The tu meke tiki tour travels from marae kitchens to TV screens, from original trickster Maui to cheeky kids, from the classic entertainers (including Prince Tui Teka tipping off an elephant) through to Billy T James, arguably the king of Māori comedy. Archive footage is complemented by interviews with well-known and everyday Kiwis, and contemporary comedians (Mike King, Pio Terei). Winston Peters and Tame Iti discuss humour as a political tool.
Veteran weatherman Jim Hickey sums up A Flying Visit at the start of the first episode: “We’re going to be visiting some of the more unusual and out of the way places, and I’ll be chatting with the locals and they can tell me what makes their little place tick”. He touches his Cessna 182 down on NZ’s northernmost airstrip, meets a pig hunting nana, flies by the lighthouse and Ninety Mile Beach, then crosses to Russell to meet a boogie-boarding dog, a lawn-mowing goat, a uniquely-painted ute — and check out some history. Then it's a flying visit to giant kauri Tāne Mahuta and its kai cart.
In this 2002 documentary director Brita McVeigh heads down the aisle to explore the world of air hostesses in air travel’s glamorous 60s and 70s heyday. Seven ex-“trolley dollies” recall exacting beauty regimes, controversial uniform changes, and the job’s unspoken insinuation of sexual availability. The cheese and cracker trolley becomes a vehicle that charts the changing status of women as McVeigh argues that — despite layovers in Honolulu, and a then-rare working opportunity for ‘girls’ — the high life concealed harassment, and struggles for equal rights and pay.
This 2002 documentary explores the stories behind one of Aotearoa’s most beloved songs: ‘Pokarekare Ana’. Claims for the authorship of the waiata aroha are examined, and Kiwis famous and lesser known reflect on the song’s place in the culture. Directed by Chas Toogood, the doco features classic performances: from St Joseph’s Girls’ Choir singing in the Waitomo Caves in 1960, to Inia Te Wiata going low in English, Kiri Te Kanawa soaring in concert, Hinewehi Mohi enlisting a 30,000 strong league crowd as backing singers, and sailing away in a 1987 America’s Cup campaign song.
This documentary tells the life story of entertainer Sir Howard Morrison. He discusses his Te Arawa whakapapa, whānau, and Anglican faith. Made by Bryan Bruce, it Includes footage of Morrison's investiture, a visit to his old school Te Aute, early performances by the Howard Morrison Quartet in Rotorua, and performances from throughout his career. Morrison is candid about his ego, his foray into film, and his marriage. An especially touching moment is a visit to an old Tūhoe friend (Morrison spent his early years in the Urewera) with a cloak made for his father.
On Christmas Eve 1953 a volcanic eruption caused a massive lahar to flow down Whangaehu River. When the Wellington-Auckland express crossed the rail bridge at Tangiwai minutes later, it collapsed and carriages plunged into the flooded river. 151 people died out of 285, in NZ's worst rail accident. This 2002 documentary examines events and the board of inquiry finding that the accident was an act of God. This excerpt demolishes the story that Cyril Ellis could have warned the train driver what lay ahead, and argues there was a railways department cover-up at the board of inquiry.
This documentary traces the life of intersex activist Mani Mitchell. 'Intersexual' is a term to describe a person with atypical combinations of the biological features that usually distinguish males from females. Mitchell's harrowing but ultimately inspiring story is told via articulate, candid interviews, as Mitchell talks about being made a "hospital freak show tour" by doctors, and growing up secretly 'middlesex'. The Dominion Post's Jane Bowron called Mani's Story "one of the great survivor stories". It won the 2004 Qantas Media Award for Best Documentary.
The final episode in Series One of The Big Art Trip starts in Dunedin. Hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Nick Ward explore found art and ceramic sculptures with artist Jim Cooper and visit jewellery artists Ann Culy and Rainer Beneke, before heading to the Kaka Point home of poet Hone Tuwhare (where he lived until his death in 2008). They head to Invercargill to meet classical singer Deborah Wai Kapohe, who takes them op-shopping and performs her original folk songs. Last stop is Cosy Nook in Southland where they meet painter Nigel Brown.
The Big Art Trip hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Nick Ward start this leg of the journey in Palmerston North, where they meet Centrepoint Theatre artistic director and actor Alison Quigan and sculptor Robert Jahnke. Next it's Wellington, and a chat about the bucket fountain in Cuba Mall, before they visit painter Marianne Muggeridge and drop in on Circa Theatre co-founder and actor Grant Tilly, who shares his secret passion for box making. They finish up with theatre-centric band Cloudboy, who discuss their music and their move from Dunedin to Wellington.
In the third episode of The Big Art Trip the little green car heads first to Piha, where hosts Nick Ward and Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins interview hip-hop artist King Kapisi. After that they visit jewellery and multimedia artist Lisa Reihana at her K Road apartment, discuss contemporary furniture with designer Kim Martinengo and drop in on hot glass artist Stephen Bradbourne. They also check out art in a corporate setting before meeting sculptor Emily Siddell, and finish up by visiting painter Andy Leleisi’uao at his home studio in Mangere.
In episode two of The Big Art Trip hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Nick Ward discover the art of crochet with sculptor Ani O’Neill and attend CAKE Collective’s roadside poster exhibition where they talk to photographer Deborah Smith. They also visit renowned sculptor Greer Twiss in his studio, talk with young multi-media artist Gerald Phillips about his music videos for band Betchadupa, drop in on painter and political activist Emily Karaka and head to Whangarei to see filmmaker Gregory King and the veteran star of his short film Junk, Rosalie Carey.
Children of Gallipoli gave NZ viewers, for the first time, a Turkish view of the Gallipoli story. Produced for TVNZ and Turkish TV, the documentary focuses on four young people, two Turks and two New Zealanders, all descended from men who fought at Gallipoli in 1915. Travelling to Turkey, the New Zealanders explore the battle site and meet the other two participants and together, they gain an insight into the grim reality of what their ancestors went through. Seeing it through their eyes charges the film with a strong emotional resonance.
"Kevin has a strict daily routine, part of which is about to be taken away — throwing his life into turmoil." The Kevin in question is Solid Gold FM DJ Kevin Black, and the essential part of his everyday routine being removed is … sleep. This second episode of the 2001 Touchdown reality series — in which varied participants deal with deprivation — sees ’Blackie' slowly but surely disintegrating over 70 sleepless hours. Despite caffeine, gym and jigsaws, his performance at memory game Simon suffers, he faces hallucinations, and the delirious results are heard over the airwaves.
In September 2000 New Zealand's greatest athlete was surprised with the 'Big Red Book'. Paul Holmes reunites Snell with figures in his life, from the Rome 800m silver and bronze medallists, to Opunake locals, and influential coach Arthur Lydiard. The tribute to his peerless career includes footage of Olympic triumphs and world records, and revelation of a performance enhancing drug: Fanta. Snell expresses pride in his academic achievement, where — despite a faltering start at Mt Albert Grammar — he is now director of the Human Performance Lab, University of Texas.
The premise of this long-running makeover show was “celebrating people by doing their gardens”. In this very first episode, the Mucking In team rally together with Mangere Bridge locals to surprise unsung teacher Phillipa Todd, who goes the extra distance for her students. Co-presenter Jim Mora humbly describes their efforts as “more of a tidy-up than anything else”, but the show would prove enduringly popular and run until 2009, and picking up a 2004 Qantas Media Award for Best Lifestyle Programme along the way.
In each episode of this garden makeover show, Jim Mora and the Mucking In team rallied together locals to reward a community hero with a surprise garden. The long-running format was described by TV reviewer Trevor Agnew as "the caring face of reality TV". It won Best Lifestyle Programme at the 2004 Qantas Media Awards, and spawned a tie-in book in its final year. Said Mora: "You met the best people in New Zealand and all their nice mates. It was probably the nicest thing that anyone in television would ever have the chance to do."
This episode of the turn of the century youth show trips out in the mud, at The Gathering dance party in Takaka. Havoc then talks to Manchester DJs at Piha, and interviews legendary comedian Robin Williams, who ranges from getting bitten by a dolphin to being scared by Paul Holmes. When this episode aired in January 2000, the hosts were at the peak of their infamy, having baited the BSA earlier in the series with a student stapling his genitals to a cross and setting it alight, and a woman on the street being asked whether she’d consider a sexual act for four dollars.
Havoc and Newsboy's Sell-out Tour saw the intrepid pair ramble up and down the country offering their irreverent take on all things Aotearoa. This episode from the second series (subtitled 'Ratings Drive') is a deadpan homage to Discovery Channel as they go on the hunt for dangerous animals. They head to Nelson to cage-swim with sharks; then down to Waimairi Beach sand dunes to check out NZ's deadliest spider, the rare katipō. Finally they don disguises on return to Gore, the town they'd infamously outed as "the gayest in New Zealand" in series one.
By the mid 90s, popular TVNZ weatherman Jim Hickey had begun presenting things other than fronts and precipitation (e.g. Country Calendar, Shaky Beginnings). In 2000 he got his own series. This first episode of his TV One motoring show sees Marie Azcona report on the controversy surrounding the Model T Ford winning Car of the Century; Mark Leishman gives the lowdown on buying a car at an auction; guest Jim Mora vacuums his Audi; and host Hickey test drives the new Volkswagen with music journo and “old Beetle fan” Dylan Taite.
Ask Country Calendar viewers which shows they remember and inevitably the answer is "the spoofs" — satirical episodes that screened unannounced. Sometimes there was outrage but mostly the public enjoyed having the wool pulled over their eyes. Created by producer Tony Trotter and Bogor cartoonist Burton Silver, the first (in late 1977) was the fencing wire-playing farmer and his "rural music". This special episode collects the best of the spoofs, from the infamous radio-controlled dog, to the gay couple who ran a "stress-free" flock, and more malarkey besides.
Irreverent 90s youth show hosts Mikey Havoc and Jeremy ‘Newsboy’ Wells went on the road in this hit series. Down south they infamously outed Gore as the “gay capital of New Zealand”. While many viewers had a laugh at the Auckland duo’s lampooning of small town conservatism, some took the bait and were not amused by Newsboy's “gay man’s Gore” moniker, preferring to tout the town’s trout fishing, line-dancing and country music. The mischievous pair also visit Dunedin, Fox Glacier and Queenstown, where they 'promote' attractions and meet base jumper Chuck Berry.
This special 1999 edition of the youth show travels to downunder's summer music festival du jour: The Big Day Out. Mikey Havoc and Jeremy 'Newsboy' Wells slip, slop, slap and survey the "punters, munters, sights and sounds" at Mt Smart Stadium. They meet musical acts of the era, including Korn, Marilyn Manson and Fatboy Slim, and local heroes Shihad. Newsboy interviews "Nelson College old girl, grunge super bride and Big Day Out recidivist" Courtney Love, who gives him the glad eye (apparently) and he reads her a viewer question from "Doug Myers of Remuera".
Screened in the lead-up to the 1999 World Cup final, this keenly-watched series explores the history of our most famous sports team. Episode one is framed around All Black encounters with England, Wales and Scotland. In these excerpts, Quinn tracks down 60s test prop 'Jazz' Muller (whose home is a shrine to touring days), explores prop Keith Murdoch’s infamous 1972 tour expulsion; visits the marae of George Nepia, examines rugby’s far-from-egalitarian status in England; and various All Blacks recall the rare shame of losing, amidst a history of victory.
This 1998 TV series marked the screen debut of Kiwi chef Jo Seagar. Seagar had attracted notice with her bestselling 1997 recipe book You Shouldn't Have Gone To So Much Trouble, Darling. The goal of the first episode of the 13-part series is to “take the angst out of entertaining”. Some of Seagar’s “short cuts and clever little tricks and tips” include doubling up on pastry trays, and being stingy with the caviar (“if you use a whole lot they don’t think it’s real”). She also applies her nursing training to bandaging chicken breasts.
Irreverent 90s youth show Havoc launched the TV careers of hosts Mikey Havoc and Jeremy ‘Newsboy’ Wells (the pair was previously known for their work at radio station 95bFM). The magazine format saw Havoc and Newsboy interacting with guests, shooting in the field, music videos, satirising the TV archive and generally engaging in pop culture malarky. The series screened on MTV and then moved to a late-night slot on TV2. Follow-up series included hit road-trip Havoc and Newsboy’s Sell-Out Tour (featuring the infamous outing of Gore), before Havoc continued hosting alone.
Lana Coc-Kroft and her all female Extreme Team swing, fall and paddle their way through this episode from their primetime, extreme sports TV series. There's a guest appearance from actor Kevin Smith who enthusiastically investigates bridge swinging with Jayne Mitchell (near Masterton). Lana forgets her fear of heights for long enough to take a tandem sky dive and check out the sport of sky surfing — and Emma Barry and Katrina Misa keep their feet much closer to the ground, but get them wet, on a canoe safari down the Whanganui River.
Twins are afflicted with a strange power: the power to make others stare. Presented by singer Jackie Clarke, herself a twin, this documentary grabs a fascinating topic with both hands. Among those interviewed are two sets of twins who are romantically involved, a family with twin sets of twins, and an uncanny pair of older women whose thoughts seem to run in tandem, every time they turn up on screen. There is talk of the close relationships twins have, identical medical misaventures, tricks paid on the unsuspecting, and how fathers are often less able to tell twins apart.
This beautifully-shot documentary is a social and architectural history of the great NZ bach (or crib for those south of the Waitaki). Maggie Barry tracks their evolution from workers’ cottages to a fully fledged icon in danger of extinction: as the blind eye turned by councils that made them possible becomes a thing of the past, and the coastline becomes too valuable to allow ‘just anyone’ to erect a shack on it. The Kiwi spirit that created the building is celebrated; and bach enthusiasts interviewed include Sam Hunt, Keri Hulme, Karl Stead and Rawiri Paratene.
This TVNZ show explores 90s grand designs, and the people who live in them. This episode from the fourth season sees Dave Cull quizzing husband and wife architect team Colin and Lindy Leuschke on the challenges of designing their Parnell home, and checks out a pimped up house trailer inspired by technology show Beyond 2000. Jude Dobson visits a Kiwiana classic: Fred and Myrtle Flutey's Bluff paua shell home; and Jim Hickey meets a Remuera reproduction antique importer. The opening titles are a showcase of computer graphics from the era.
In these excerpts from TV2's late night news show, Simon Dallow watches new American boy band All-4-One perform in an Auckland record store and interviews them about the trappings of fame. Meanwhile, Marcus Lush channels Country Calendar as he investigates a novel new agri-business venture: an emu and ostrich farm near Katikati (although it's unlikely his colleagues on TVNZ's venerable rural show ever gave their watches to animals to play with). Lush's verdict? The world's biggest living birds ("because we killed the moa") are "more fun than sheep".
In these excerpts from TV2's mid-90s late night news show, reporter Mark Staufer talks to Chic Littlewood about a TV career that has taken him from Chic Chat, his 1970s kids show (with puppets Nowsy and Willie McNabb) to playing policeman Laurie Brasch on Shortland Street. Andrew Shaw, whose show followed Chic Chat, reveals a studio shortage at TVNZ at the time. Meanwhile Marcus Lush goes behind the scenes at a luxury Auckland hotel, only to discover a notable lack of TV set destruction from its rock star clientele. Perhaps they were too busy with the telescopes.
Condemned as "designer news" before it had even been to air, Newsnight was TV2's foray into late night news for a younger audience (with one eye on the success of TV3's Nightline). Strongly influenced by the celebrity and human interest focus of women's magazines, it received an unsuccessful BSA complaint for not covering a major story (a teacher's strike). Simon Dallow made his TV debut alongside Lorelei Mason and then Alison Mau — while Marcus Lush's idiosyncratic take on the world earned the show a degree of cult (if not always critical) success.
This excerpt from mid 90s show Newsnight features the extraordinary story of Max Corkill and his motorcycle-riding cat Rastus. After having Rastus dumped on him as a kitten while he was motorcycling around Canada, Max took him along on the road. Quickly becoming comfortable on the bike, Rastus would stand on the handlebars as they drove along. Back in New Zealand, the pair became community favourites, and regularly raised money for the local SPCA. They passed away on 20 January 1998, after being involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.
The Edge was an early edition in a series of magazine style arts shows made by the Gibson Group. Later shows included Sunday, Bookenz, Bill Ralston-hosted Backch@t, and Frontseat. Diverging from then-standard Kaleidoscope model (sometimes lengthy documentaries, often on single subjects) The Edge took a faster-paced approach, with multiple pieces in a half hour show. Subjects ranged from the birth of special effects company Weta to early landscape painter Alfred Sharpe. Fronted by writer Mary McCallum, two series and over 60 episodes of the show were produced.
This Jane Campion interview from the first series of arts show The Edge was filmed as The Piano was released in NZ cinemas in 1993. Earlier that year she had become the first (and only) female director to win the Cannes Palme d’Or. Here, Campion discusses the antipodean character of her next project (A Portrait of a Lady) and providing Nicole Kidman with a role that isn’t “like a handbag to one of the male stars”. She also muses on working in Hollywood versus her hometown Sydney, and the influence of her New Zealand upbringing on forming her imagination.
This short Auckland-shot Holly Hunter interview for arts show The Edge was filmed as The Piano was released in NZ cinemas in 1993. Hunter discusses playing a cheerleader murderer, and alongside Tom Cruise in The Firm. When weighing up past films she cherishes Raising Arizona and Broadcast News, but The Piano is “the most original story that I've been involved in”, and Jane Campion, “one of the great directors.” In March 1994 Hunter would win an Oscar for Best Actress (alongside Anna Paquin for Best Supporting Actress and Campion for Best Original Screenplay).
Maggie's Garden Show (originally Palmers Garden Show) was a popular TV One series that ran from 1992 to 2003. Featuring ‘bug man’ Ruud Kleinpaste, gardening experts Bill Ward, Jack Hobbs, Gordon Collier and Professor John Walker, and of course, the nation’s most beloved ginger gardener, host Maggie Barry. The Ellerslie Flower Show special was a perennial favourite amongst viewers; a review from the Herald notes, “In an age where TV personalities grow to be larger than life, Maggie's Garden Show has stuck to its information-based roots.”
Houses have long been central to New Zealand's identity, from the whare to the quarter-acre pavlova paradise, to The Block and the 2000s Auckland bubble. This TVNZ ‘home show’ looks at the obsession, circa the early 90s: exploring contemporary grand designs, renovation dilemmas, and meeting Kiwi personalities of the era in their homes. The first of four series was presented by actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand and builder (and future Dunedin mayor) Dave Cull. Jim Hickey and Jude Dobson later joined Cull. The show spawned a 1994 book written by Cull and Stuart Niven.
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.
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.
In this clip from music show CV, young interviewer Robert Rakete breaks out his bass guitar for a jam with the king of the blues. Visiting New Zealand in November 1989 as part of U2's Lovetown tour, BB King sits down to talk about the value of "policing yourself" and paying your dues. Taking up the invitation to name some names, he lists a range of musical influences (the single string blues of T-Bone Walker made him go "crazy") and enthuses about some of those met along the way — from the "good at heart" Elvis Presley, to the positivity of U2. BB King passed away in May 2015.
The departure of Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone dominates this 1989 interview with the pioneering punk rockers, represented here by guitarist Johnny Ramone and new member CJ (Ramone). Johnny talks with contained amazement about Dee Dee leaving the band, and flirting with rap. He also mentions playing on Stephen King film Pet Sematary, and fails to recall the movie that features a “great” performance by The Swingers (Australia's Starstruck). Alongside offering staunch support from behind his sunglasses, CJ describes the joy of joining the Ramones, having been a big fan.
A NZ Herald assertion that women’s music is just “gentle, political folk songs” leads off this report for TVNZ’s mid-80s rock show. It’s presented by Dick Driver from a showcase for women songwriters at Auckland’s much loved and missed Gluepot in Ponsonby. Featured musicians are singer/songwriter Mahinarangi Tocker, blues singer Mahia Blackmore and then member of When the Cat’s Away Dianne Swann. Those sensitive folksongs are in short supply but the same can’t be said for the obstacles encountered in dealing with a male dominated music industry.
Despite a cold, superstar singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell is a most obliging interviewee for TVNZ music show host Dick Driver. Having adopted a number of styles over the years, she says she has become a “neither/nor”: no longer easily categorised by radio as a jazz or a rock musician. She performs compelling acoustic versions of ‘Number One’ (from her then current album Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm) and the brand new ‘Night Ride Home’ which she doesn’t know how she’ll record. (It will show up in a similar arrangement as the title track of her next album.)
TVNZ’s rock show host Dick Driver encounters “arguably the most famous person in rock’n’roll”. A very relaxed Mick Jagger is promoting his second solo album Primitive Cool when Driver interviews him outside Auckland’s busy downtown ferry terminal. The Rolling Stone’s sunglasses get a solid workout as he enthuses about his new band (which includes guitarist Joe Satriani), dismisses celebrity biographer Albert Goldman’s book about John Lennon, recalls encounters with Michael Jackson and ponders the curious situation of being the subject of a tribute band.
Radio with Pictures host Dick Driver interviews members of touring Irish band The Pogues for his TVNZ music show. Despite a daunting reputation, frontman Shane MacGowan is on his best behaviour (and in possession of a very clean pair of heels) as he and band mates Spider Stacy and James Fearnley expound on the importance (and inescapability) of their Irish roots and culture. MacGowan’s experiences with New Zealanders in London appear to be a private joke but there’s nothing opaque about their opinions on being produced by fellow musician Elvis Costello.
Host Dick Driver investigates campus radio for his TVNZ music show and finds stations that have outgrown modest beginnings. They have longer broadcast hours, a national co-ordinator (former Netherworld Dancing Toy Graham Cockcroft) and a profile in the industry. Further positives include their own style (a certain informality in presentation perceived as a plus by many) and a commitment to alternative music and local talent — but there are also concerns about estrangement from student associations and commercial success breeding advertiser pressures.
True Colours came about thanks to a 1986 dispute between record companies and TVNZ. The companies demanded payment for videos, partly because of the costs of producing them; TVNZ refused, arguing the videos were a form of sales promotion. TVNZ then took all its music shows off-air, including Radio with Pictures. They were replaced by True Colours, hosted by RWP's Dick Driver and Shazam!'s Phillipa Dann. It featured mostly live-in-the-studio NZ bands, along with music news and interviews. The dispute was resolved by year's end; True Colours ran for seven of its 10 planned episodes.
Born of a dispute between TVNZ and record companies over video payments, True Colours tended to feature New Zealand bands in a studio setting, plus the occasional video. This first episode sets the template. Former Radio with Pictures host Dick Driver and Phillipa Dann (from pop show Shazam!) introduce a magazine-style show of live music, news and interviews. Ardijah open proceedings here, with their mix of polynesian R&B and funk. Later Tim Finn gets the interview treatment. The dispute was eventually settled and True Colours ended after seven episodes.
For a generation of music fans rock show Radio with Pictures was their link to local and international music — and essential viewing before TV2's Sunday night horror movies. Following on from the Grunt Machine in 1976, its presenters included Dr Rock (Barry Jenkin), Phil O'Brien, Karyn Hay and Dick Driver. RWP's run coincided with the rise of MTV and the music video, and a burgeoning 80s New Zealand music scene. Videos were a staple but artist interviews also featured and the show staged a number of televised concerts featuring leading local artists.
In the early 80s Ready to Roll was NZ’s premier TV pop show. It emerged in the pre-music video boom mid-70s hosted by Roger Gascoigne (and later Stu Dennison) with bands and dancers live in the studio. By the early 80s it was a seamless video clip Top 20 countdown — introduced by the Commodores pumping ‘Machine Gun’ — and appointment Saturday evening viewing for music fans (and a regular in the week’s Top 10 rating shows). It then evolved into a brand, spawning a number of RTR offshoots (Mega-Mix, Sounz and New Releases), before disappearing in the mid-90s.