All Black, Auckland Warrior, juice entrepreneur, and onscreen larrikin, Marc Ellis’ first non-footy screen foray was co-hosting Sportscafe, where his antics regularly attracted headlines (including Nude Day appearances). A run of hosting roles followed – often with fellow sportsman Matthew Ridge – where the lads were fish-out-of-water in New Zealand (In the Deep End, Time of Your Life) and overseas (Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road). The pair were team captains on quiz show Game of Two Halves; Ellis went solo for 2009's How the Other Half Lives. These days he is co-owner of advertising agency Media Blanco.
It was easy fun. I was paid to have half a dozen beers. Marc Ellis on appearing on SportsCafe, in an NZ Herald interview, 21 March 2015
After years of TV success — often appearing alongside fellow ex All Black Matthew Ridge — Marc Ellis went solo to present this show about New Zealand’s diverse cultural make up. Over the course of the series his adventures include hunting, visiting the Chatham Islands, casting spells with witches, and cutting all his hair off in an attempt to become a vegetarian, celibate, non-drinking Hare Krishna. How the Other Half Lives was made by Ellis’ production company Chico Productions, and produced by Sportscafe creator Ric Salizzo.
Reality TV host Marc Ellis tones down his laddish antics to present this series on other cultures and beliefs. In this episode he asks "what makes the Hare Krishna tick...what makes them so happy all of the time?". Ellis moves in with a Krishna community in West Auckland, where his strikingly casual guide teaches him what it is to be a Hare Krishna. Late night and early morning dance sessions prove to be less of a struggle than anticipated for Ellis, who seems to fit right in — although the haircut might be a little close, and the proximity of the local pubs a temptation too far.
Former All Blacks Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis team up once again to export their brand of larrikin-like behaviour overseas. In this first episode of their Russian travels they find themselves in the capital of Moscow, where they compete to get smiles out of locals, and head to a space agency building to see if they have the physical ability (and appropriate payment for the guards) to head out into the cosmos. Ridge is informed of a kidney problem, and Ellis gets told he has a dickey heart; but neither diagnosis is enough to prevent the pair testing their limits on the centrifuge.
This long-running, hour-long Māori Television sports show saw presenters and sports stars korero in front of a studio audience. The show won a cult audience thanks to its easy-going style, mixing studio action (music, demonstrations) with light-hearted field shoots (eg Brofessionals). Catchphrase "Mean Māori Mean" entered the culture. Ringleaders included Jenny-May Clarkson (née Coffin), Wairangi Koopu, and Liam Meesam, and superstars like Sonny Bill Williams relaxed on the Code couch. The show won Best Sports Programme at the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards.
This long-running chat show gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with playful pratfalls. Regulars in the circus wrangled by producer Ric Salizzo included larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis, straight girl Lana Coc-Kroft, 'That Guy' Leigh Hart, and Graeme Hill. This 23 November 2005 final features plenty of sporting guest stars and ‘best of’ moments: from World Nude Day to a litany of laddish moments from Ellis. Rumours of presenter intoxication would only have been stirred by the mayhem of the closing set destruction, accompanied by band The Exponents.
Fresh-up in the Deep End saw sportsmen turned TV larrikins Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge facing challenges far outside their comfort zones. This episode has the pair taking on dancing, from ballroom and latin styles, through to cabaret, contemporary and Irish. En route they try some body percussion with Black Grace Dance Company, and do the can-can under the watchful eye of cabaret legend Debbie Dorday. Then they must put their new found skills to the test in full on competition. Ridge and Ellis' skills with a rugby ball in hand don't always translate onto the dancefloor.
John Clarke created an unofficial Kiwi national anthem when his alter ego Fred Dagg first released 'We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are' in 1975, simultaneously celebrating and poking fun at national pride. This video is a 1998 update of the song, instigated by TV's SportsCafe. Times change, but the recipe remains the same: "good clean ball and for God's sakes feed your backs!" Alongside a roll call of celebrities, politicians and sports stars — Sean Fitzpatrick, Chris Cairns, Zinzan Brooke — Clarke spreads the grateful gospel at the United Nations.
Onetime All Blacks Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge cemented their on screen partnership with late 90s show Fresh-up in the Deep End. The Touchdown series saw the pair taking their lovable, duelling larrakin personas to a variety of locations: they did time in the armed services, the circus, flash restaurant Petit Lyon, and as butler and chauffeur to model Rachel Hunter. They also launched their own political party, did the Coast to Coast, and tried a variety of dance moves. Fresh-up in the Deep End ran for two seasons.
Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.
Producer Ric Salizzo followed a series of All Black tour videos with this popular long-running live show. The Sky Sport (later TV2) series featured interviews and skits, and gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls (and tension between larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis and co-host Lana Coc-Kroft). Other members of the circus that Salizzo tried to wrangle included That Guy (Leigh Hart), Eva the Bulgarian (Eva Evguenieva), Graeme Hill, and the Human Canonball (Ben Hickey). The show made a brief comeback in 2008.
Clash of the Codes was a made-for-TV series that pitted teams representing various sports against each other in a series of devised physical challenges. In this final episode from the first series, rowing and canoeing are the frontrunners, with plenty of Olympic podium experience on both teams (Ian Ferguson, Eric Verdonk and Chris White, plus world champ sculler Phillipa Baker). They tackle a steep bush rescue and the army confidence course at Whangaparaoa Peninsula. A young Marc Ellis (rugby) gets early practice playing the larrikin onscreen.
This 1992 TV One documentary follows the All Blacks on their first post-apartheid visit to South Africa. The footy tour tomfoolery of producer Ric Salizzo’s earlier All Blacks docos is subbed off for reflections on politics and sport from players — including ex-All Black Ken Gray, who refused to tour the republic in 1970 and joined protesters in 1981. Not all goes to script for a “new South Africa”: the Afrikaans anthem is played before the Ellis Park test, and the All Blacks win. Future South Africa cricket star Herschelle Gibbs is a young coloured player mentored by the ABs.