Lynda Topp has delighted audiences from Gore to Nashville with her distinctive yodelling, music and comedy, alongside twin sister Jools Topp. According to Jools, "the first time Lynda heard a yodel she went into this sort of swoon and became obsessed about learning it".
Born in the Waikato town of Huntly in 1958, Lynda and Jools began their entertainment careers on their parents' dairy farm, singing to the animals and at family events. After a short stint in the army in the late 70s, the girls ventured out to busk on the streets where they attracted the student crowd and the queer community with their harmonious political songs. Soon they were travelling the country with backpacks and guitars as The Topp Twins, singing songs of love, politics and NZ from Auckland to Dunedin.
From an early age, the Topps were upfront about being ‘out' lesbians; many of their songs reflected this and became anthems for the lesbian community. They became darlings of the activist movements, singing at the frequent protest marches and public rallies of the early 80s, from Māori land rights and Reclaim the Night marches, to the anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear movements across New Zealand.
From early TV specials to winning their own three season series, Lynda directed many of the Topp Twins' television shows, as well as spin-off character show Ken's Hunting and Fishing Show, which she also stars in. One of the Topps' stage shows were filmed for a television special which won several Listener Television Awards including 1987 Entertainers of the Year, Best Entertainment Program and Original Music.
Their first ongoing series was The Topp Twins: Do Not Adjust Your Twinset, which screened on TV3 in 1996. The format was a unique mix of documentary, comedy and musical, with the Topps' fictional characters taking part in real-life situations, such as horse races or a catwalk show (like more affable, less-exploitative predecessors to Borat).
When Jools Topp was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, the Topps integrated the experience into their live shows and spoke to the media about it to raise awareness about breast cancer in New Zealand.
2009 saw documentary Untouchable Girls, directed by Leanne Pooley. Part concert film, part biopic, part historical record and part comedy, the result won wide release in local cinemas, a run of positive reviews, and a raft of international awards at both queer and straight film festivals. Untouchable Girls' $1.85 million gross catapulted it into the top ten list for Kiwi films on their own soil. There were also theatrical releases in Australia and the United States, where Variety gave the film a rave review.
In 2014 the Topp Twins returned to television screens on Topp Country, playing themselves on a culinary journey around New Zealand. Reviewer Colin Hogg praised the show in the NZ Herald as "truly wonderful television". In 2017 the twins took out a New Zealand Television Award for Best Entertainment Presenter for the show's second season — three decades after they first took out the same category, for a Topp Twins special.
In 2018 the Twins were each named Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to entertainment.
Updated on 5 June 2018
Topp Twins.com website. Accessed 5 June 2018
Diva Productions website. Accessed 5 June 2018
Colin Hogg, 'Colin Hogg: Topps shine as rambling foodies' (Review of Topp Country) - The NZ Herald, 13 May 2014