After a stint at the NZ Herald, Susan Wood moved into TV in the 80s. Since then she has anchored news, election coverage, her own interview show (Today Live) and was an originating host on Breakfast (with Mike Hosking). She was also the first Australian correspondent for ONE News. After Paul Holmes’ departure for Prime, she hosted Close Up for two years. In 2013 she began presenting political show Q+A.
We churned out an hour of news everyday. There would be five, six interviews which I had to wrap my head around ... it was absolutely full on, and we were a tiny team. But it just gelled. Susan Wood, on anchoring midday news
Close Up was an award-winning current affairs programme on TVNZ, running from 2004 to 2012; it screened for half an hour at 7pm, following the nightly primetime news. Roving reporters filed stories presented in the studio, initially by Susan Wood. Mark Sainsbury was host from 2006 until the show went off air in November 2012 (with Mike Hosking and Paul Henry as back-up). Replacing the Holmes show and originally launched as Close Up at 7, it was rebranded in 2005, and in turn was replaced by Seven Sharp. Close Up is not to be confused with the 80s show of the same name.
In this clip the Holmes show celebrates 15 years on air with a montage of the most notable moments on the show to that point. Memorable clips include chatting with Queen Elizabeth; being kissed by Eve van Grafhorst and Kiri Te Kanawa; Jonah Lomu crying; and Dennis Conner's infamous walkout from the opening episode. Famous guests include Ruby Wax, Geoffrey Palmer, Margaret Thatcher, Rachel Hunter, Sir Peter Blake and many others. Holmes ran for a further six months before it ended in November 2004.
In an emotional Today Live interview from June 2001, Susan Wood talks to pioneering newsreader Angela D’Audney about her diagnosis with a brain tumour four weeks earlier, resulting surgery and the prospect of radiotherapy. D'Audney talks about the highs and lows of her considerable career, and attributes her success as much to tenacity as talent. Paul Holmes reminisces and offers support, there’s archive footage of her from AKTV-2 in 1968; and she is given the final word in what will be her last television appearance. Angela D’Audney died on 6 February 2002.
Today Live was an interview show hosted by journalist Susan Wood; it was aimed at “the lighter, more conversational end of the spectrum” from her work at the time as stand-in on Holmes. Part of TVNZ’s search for a lead-in to the 6pm news, it screened 5:30pm weeknights from March 2000 to December 2001. Each episode typically featured three interviews with regular reviewers and guests that included actors, authors, sports people, musicians and newsmakers. Auckland’s rush hour traffic and weather provided a backdrop, courtesy of a rooftop studio with a glass wall.
Craig Scott quickly rose to fame as a New Zealand pop sensation, before retiring in the mid 70s to the great disappointment of his fans. In this 1998 Breakfast interview he spends time before the cameras on his favourite golf course, describing life before and after stardom. Then working in video for Warner Brothers, he discusses the perks of being a star, and life after fame. The interview features excerpts of his number one hit "Star Crossed Lovers". Reporter Lucy Hockings moved the following year to the UK, where she became a producer and presenter on BBC World News.
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.
Hour-long prime time current affairs slot Assignment replaced TVNZ's long-running Frontline in 1995, after Frontline had won controversy for a couple of its stories. A number of Frontline veterans moved across to the new series, including Susan Wood, Rod Vaughan, and Rob Harley. Vaughan and Harley would both win local media awards for their Assignment investigations. At the 1996 TV Guide New Zealand Film and Television Awards, Assignment was judged Best News and Current Affairs Programme.
Open Home was a 90s series looking at New Zealand homes and the people making, designing and living in them. This episode from the third season ranges from deconstructionism to DIY. Builder (and future Dunedin mayor) David Cull checks out a Northland glasshouse designed by Nigel Cook, before visiting the renovated Australian farmhouse and digital recording studio of Dragon band member Todd Hunter. Susan Wood tries translating the architectural theory of deconstructionism with the help of Auckland architects, including Mark Wigley.
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.
Holmes was a long-running current affairs programme that followed the news each weeknight on TV ONE. Presented by veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes, the show was as famous for his showmanship as it was for examining the issues of the day. Holmes interviewed the day's newsmakers; often championing the underdog 'kiwi battler'. In 2004 Paul Holmes defected from TVNZ to Prime TV to set up a rival 7pm current affairs programme, Paul Holmes. That lasted a few months before being axed (due to low ratings).
Frontline replaced Close Up as TVNZ’s flagship, primetime current affairs show in 1988. Fronted by Ross Stevens, and made at Avalon at a time when TVNZ management had relocated to Auckland, it produced the controversial 1990 doco For the Public Good which explored the relationship between business and the Labour Government. In the fallout, TVNZ was sued, staff were sacked and the office moved to Auckland. In 1994, a special about the Winebox tax allegations saw Frontline back in the news. Other presenters included Lindsay Perigo, Anita McNaught and Susan Wood.