Peter Bland’s creative career encompasses two cultures, dozens of poems, the creation of Wellington’s Downstage Theatre and at least 30 screen roles – among them, his star turn as conman Wes Pennington in Came a Hot Friday.

How many actors could put tragic overtones into such a line as 'You left me standing around in there like some prize dork?' Nicholas Reid, on Peter Bland's performance in Came a Hot Friday
Title.jpg.118x104

The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax

1999, Actor - Television

Savage play part two key image.jpg.540x405

Savage Play - Part Two

1995, As: Prince of Wales - Television

In the second episode of this drama based on the 1888-89 tour of Great Britain by the NZ Natives rugby team, Pony — one of the side’s stars — is courted by society and invited to shoot with the Prince of Wales; and his Māori blood is also a novelty in the music halls. He’s hoping to renew his acquaintance with Charlotte — the granddaughter of a rugby loving Earl — but there are matches to be played in London. Locating his English father is far from heart warming, but his disappointment is more than compensated for as Charlotte follows him to the city.

10760.thumb.png.540x405

Savage Play

1995, As: Prince of Wales - Television

This three part mini-series is loosely based on the remarkable tour by the NZ Natives rugby team which played 107 games in Australasia and Great Britain in 1888-89. At its heart is a cross-cultural love story between Pony — the grandson of a chief and one of the side’s stars — and Charlotte: the granddaughter of an English Earl (Ian Richardson of House of Cards fame). The tour provided the first exposure to Māori for many in the UK. The interaction could be uncomfortable but even more so when affairs of the heart threatened the cultural divide.

Title.jpg.118x104

Murder Most Horrid

1992, As: Editor - Television

The champion key image.jpg.540x405

The Champion - Yankee Soldier

1989, As: Stipan Yukich - Television

Writer Maurice Gee’s experiences growing up in West Auckland during World War II were the basis for this home front drama expertly realised by the producer/director team of Ginette McDonald and Peter Sharp. Twelve-year-old Rex Pascoe (Milan Borich — future singer in the band Pluto) is a war-obsessed schoolboy worried about his father’s black-market dealings. Meanwhile, American soldiers are making their presence felt but not all of their attitudes are welcome. The locals’ prejudices are about to be tested by the arrival of a GI to stay with Rex’s family.

Porters series thumb.jpg.540x405

Porters

1987, As: Bill Porteous - Television

Comedy series Porters featured an impressive cast. George Henare, Peter Bland (star of Came a Hot Friday), Bill Johnson (Under the Mountain) and Stephen Judd (Bridge to Nowhere) starred as a cynical team of hospital porters who share no love for their boss (Roy Billing). In the hope of lifting the standards of Kiwi comedy, the makers of this 80s television series imported Emmy award-winner Noam Pitlik (Barney Miller, Taxi) from the US to direct. The series made comedy from hospital romances, missing patients and union representation. Only six episodes were made. 

Porters  episode five  thumb.jpg.540x405

Porters (Episode Five)

1987, As: Bill Porteous - Television

Created by actor/writer Jonathan Hardy, comedy series Porters was based around a group of porters working in a big city hospital. This episode features an early screen appearance by Rima Te Wiata (Hunt for the Wilderpeople); she guest stars as a worried nurse who calls on junior porter Peter (Stephen Judd from Bridge to Nowhere), after hearing some strange noises on the night shift. An encounter in the mortuary awaits. The episode also includes appearances by fellow porters George Henare, Peter Bland and Bill Johnson, with Roy Billing playing their long-suffering boss.  

Title.jpg.118x104

Swamped in Work (Alligator) - Apple Computers

1986, As: Boss - Television

Title.jpg.118x104

A Nation Afloat

1986, Narrator - Film

Dangerous orphans key.jpg.540x405

Dangerous Orphans

1986, As: Jacobs - Film

Director John Laing followed acclaimed romance Other Halves with an equally stylish but very different big city tale: a thriller in which three orphans plan an international heist to avenge the killing of one of their fathers. The expected diet of shootings, skulduggery and globetrotting accents is enlived by side trips to Geneva, songs from romantic interest Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and a cast of villains to die for (Peter Bland, Ian Mune, Anzac Wallace, Grant Tilly). When Dangerous Orphans was sold in Europe it set an early record for a New Zealand film.

3064.thumb.png.540x405

Queen City Rocker

1986, As: Jay Ryder - Film

There's panic on the streets as 19-year-old tearaway Ska (Matthew Hunter) comes to terms with love and death in Auckland's 80s urban underworld. After an ultimately tragic attempt to 'rescue' his prostitute sister, Ska plots revenge at a rock gig ... with riotous results. Directed by Bruce Morrison when broken glass was still on the ground from the Queen Street riot, the film was inspired by a story from 16-year-old Richard Lymposs. In this teen spirit-infused excerpt, street-fighter Ska saves rich girl Stacy (Kim Willoughby), and meets her classy parents.

12945.thumb.png.540x405

Heart of the High Country

1985, As: Billy - Television

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.

Kaleidoscope larry parr key image.jpg.540x405

Kaleidoscope - Larry Parr

1985, Subject - Television

This Kaleidoscope profile heralds the arrival of producer Larry Parr on the global film scene, following “the Kid from Raetihi” in his Jaguar from the hometown premiere of Came A Hot Friday (at that point the second most successful NZ film at the box office) to the Auckland offices of his company Mirage. In spite of the shoulder-padded, aspirational 80s framing, Parr talks about more troubled productions (eg. Pallet On The Floor) and the need for less self-conscious local cinema, with disarming honesty. Billy T James and Ian Mune provide character references.

5224.thumb.png.540x405

Terry and the Gunrunners - 2, Episode Two

1985, As: Mr Camper - Television

In this episode of the kids’ adventure series, 12-year-old hero Terry Teo has stumbled on a gunrunning operation. The baddies — boss Ray Vegas and villainous sidekicks Curly and Blue — are hunting for him; and Terry’s brother and sister are doing their best to help, ending up in Kaupati in the most Kiwi holiday park ever. Meanwhile, more information emerges about the mysterious, but dim, Thompson and Crouch as they report to their boss (played by none other than real life ex PM Sir Robert Muldoon) — and Billy T James is turning out to be a very cultured bikie.

Heart of the high country   episode one key.jpg.540x405

Heart of the High Country - First Episode

1985, As: Billy - Television

Frank Whitten won probably his biggest audience when 10 million Brits saw him play an outrageous bastard in this primetime melodrama. This first episode sees Ceci (Glaswegian actor Valerie Gogan) arriving from England hoping for a better life, and instead finding herself trapped on a rundown farm with a rapist, a bitter old man and a simpleton. NZ producers Lloyd Phillips and Rob Whitehouse won finance from TVNZ, Westpac and the UK's Central Television for the six-part mini-series, written by Brit Elizabeth Gowans. There were 118 speaking parts, most of them Kiwi.

Title.jpg.118x104

The Ray Bradbury Theatre

1992, As: Dr Wolcott - Television

3058.thumb.png.540x405

Came a Hot Friday

1984, As: Wes Pennington - Film

“The funniest, liveliest, most exuberant film ever made in New Zealand”. So said critic Nicholas Reid, a year after Came a Hot Friday became 1985's biggest local hit. Though Billy T’s loony Mexican-Māori cowboy is beloved by fans, he is but one eccentric here among many — as two scheming conmen hit town, and encounter bookies, boozers, country hicks, nasty crim Marshall Napier, and Prince Tui Teka playing saxophone. Until the arrival of The Piano in 1993, Ian Mune and Dean Parker’s award-loaded adaptation remained NZ's third biggest local hit. Ian Pryor writes about the film here.

Title.jpg.118x104

Dangerous Davies: The Last Detective

1981, As: George Tilth

Title.jpg.118x104

Jukes of Piccadilly

1980, As: Sheik Achmed

Title.jpg.118x104

Minder

1979, As: Charlie - Television

Title.jpg.118x104

The Old Curiosity Shop

1979, As: Mr Slum

Title.jpg.118x104

Don't Just Lie There, Say Something

1976, As: Inspector Ruff - Film

Title.jpg.118x104

Men of Affairs

1973, As: Lord Bedlow

Title.jpg.118x104

A Touch of the Other

1970, As: Sergeant Phillips - Film

Nzbc actors workshop thumb.jpg.540x405

NZBC Actors' Workshops

1967, Subject - Television

This 1967 documentary offers a rare behind the scenes glimpse into the early days of Kiwi television, as a group of actors learn firsthand how the new medium differs from the stage. The actors' workshops were held in three cities as part of a push to create more local drama. After NZ Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Bell introduces the actors to the camera, they try out some scenes. Five TV plays emerged, and two are seen getting made: The Tired Man, featuring Grant Tilly and Ray Henwood, and acclaimed Christchurch-shot drama Game for Five Players.

Title.jpg.118x104

The Tired Man

1967, Actor, Writer - Television

Title.jpg.118x104

Vendetta

1968, As: Ricci - Television