Suzy Cato leapt from radio announcing into television as presenter of TV3's Early Bird Show, quickly claiming her place as one of New Zealand's most beloved children's presenters. Thanks to the success of Suzy's World and pre-school favourite You and Me, her television CV now runs to well over 2300 episodes. In 1999 she set up her own company, Treehut Productions.
I respect everybody as an individual and don’t judge them on comparisons of one child to the next. They all need to be supported and they all need love. It doesn’t matter what age that child is... Suzy Cato, in an interview with the NZ Herald, 17 October 2002
Aimed at teaching kids to stay safe and do the best for themselves and their communities, Bryan and Bobby offers a friendly face to the New Zealand Police. In this episode Senior Constable Bryan Ward talks to Bobby, his talking pup partner, about the importance of serial numbers and keeping a record of them. With jokes a plenty, often about Bobby’s insatiable appetite, the show keeps things friendly and accessible. Bryan and Bobby have toured schools to promote the SNAP programme, which allows details of assets to be stored online. Children's TV veteran Suzy Cato produces.
Bryan the policeman and his talking canine friend Bobby manage to pull together an impressive team for this short and sweet musical safety message, about the positives of wearing a seatbelt. Joining a bunch of cute Auckland kids are TV personalities, sports stars and a burping pirate called Festus McBoyle. Among the crew are three Breakfast presenters, Go Girl actor Bronwyn Turei, shotputting champions Valerie Adams and Matthew Bloxham, and Counties Manukau central police commander Julia Lynch.
Using music to bring home an important message is an age-old technique, used to good effect here by Senior Constable Bryan Ward and Bobby, his talking police dog. Joined by a bunch of enthusiastic kids and members of emergency services, they make some moves while reworking lullaby 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' into a road safety message. Producer and children’s TV icon Suzy Cato is among those making a direct appeal for drivers to slow down on roads, before a final karaoke verse which viewers can sing along to at home.
Bryan and Bobby are not your average police team. Bryan is real-life constable Bryan Ward; Bobby is a curious talking puppy. The two use humour and everyday situations to encourage children to make good, safe decisions for themselves and those around them. The duo made their screen debut on TV3. Since then they have been seen on TV, DVD and the internet, and used in educational resource kits. Their safety messages have won thousands of pint-sized fans during visits to primary schools. The show was created by Ward and children's TV veteran Suzy Cato.
Every year around Christmas time, the Auckland Domain is lit up for a star-filled night of free Christmas celebrations. Hosted by Jay Laga’aia, this 2000 edition of the concert has “more than 300,000 people” gathered for an evening of songs, carols and fireworks. Kicking off with a Christmas rap from Anthony Ray Parker and kids, the celebrations go long into the night. Stepping up to the mic are everyone from Tina Cross, Frankie Stevens and Ainslie Allen, to the cast of Shortland Street and Mai Time. The evening is capped off with a fireworks display and the arrival of Santa Claus.
After fronting TV3 children's programmes Early Bird Show, 3pm and You and Me, Suzy Cato started her own company, Treehut Productions, to make Suzy's World. A science show for five to nine year olds, it sought to explain everyday phenomena like how smoke alarms work, why birds sing and where salt comes from. With the accent very much on the practical, pantyhose played an important part in simulating the workings of the digestive system while a watermelon was hurt demonstrating inertia and the need for seatbelts. Over four years 263 episodes were made.
Suzy Cato explores the workings of the digestive system in her science programme for five to nine year olds. A plate of baked beans is the starting point — but, first, the inevitable by-product of baked bean consumption is addressed in vox pops. Vinegar, funnels and pantyhose are just some of the aids Cato uses to simulate the process; and the changes are contrasted with untouched baked beans at each stage. The results aren't pretty but the explanation is clear and good natured — and the audience outside the studio is spared the resulting smells.
In this episode of her TV3 series for pre-schoolers, Suzy Cato creates a farm in her garden and uses songs, stories and animations to introduce a variety of animals. Chickens cluck, a mother pig and her three piglets bathe in mud, frogs catch flies with their tongues — and one of the chickens strays into the family of frogs and has to be returned home. Meanwhile, a baby bird hatches but can't immediately find its mother, the sock puppet family is seen in all of its extended glory and Suzy keeps proceedings moving with her ebullient friendliness.
In this episode of her TV3 series for pre-schoolers, Suzy Cato uses songs, stories, animations and puppets to focus on a topic that will soon loom large for her audience — going to school. Suzy explores the mysteries of the schoolbag with its lunchbox and pencil case; and she tells a story about her own first day at school. A blackboard is used to name parts of the human body in English and Māori; and there are field inserts that take a bilingual look at different colours, and join a family preparing a picnic which they then take to the beach.
In this episode of her series for pre-schoolers, Suzy Cato goes where few television programmes have gone before and devotes an episode to toilet training. Food and its digestion, what happens in the bathroom and the importance of hand washing are all covered — with the more practical aspects demonstrated using Terence Teddy. Suzy mixes her customary warmth and friendliness with a no-nonsense approach and it's all done in the best possible taste. Light relief is provided by a film insert about a family making the traditional Tongan fruit drink 'otai.
The irrepressible Suzy Cato (who previously presented TV3's Early Bird Show and 3pm) presents a programme for pre-schoolers. From a set designed to look like a house with bathroom, bedroom and live garden, Suzy talks directly to her audience and makes extensive use of te reo. A multi-cultural focus also comes through in the show's stories, songs, animations and puppetry. Suzy's on-set companions are a doll, teddy bear, clown and scarecrow — and a sock puppet family makes regular appearances. More than 2000 episodes were made in eight years.
Russell Rooster and Suzy Cato bid viewers “doodle-doo” in this TV3 children’s show which combines local skits, interviews and competitions with overseas cartoons. In this August 1991 compilation, “Bugman” Ruud Kleinpaste talks about cockroaches (with serious specimens) and Billy T James is remembered with an excerpt from an appearance on the show. In-house artist Mark shows viewers how to draw 'monstas' and there are time-honoured jokes from Kiri Kea and various ducklings. Mercifully, Suzy protects Russell from the fact she is giving away fried chicken vouchers.
A foundation TV3 programme in 1989, The Early Bird Show was devised by What Now? founder Rex Simpson and followed that show’s formula in its mix of overseas cartoons and locally made inserts. Originally broadcast Monday to Friday from 7-9am, it moved to Saturday and Sunday mornings when TV3 dropped weekday morning programming in February 1990. The original puppet line-up of Russell Rooster, Kiri Kea, Dawn Chorus and Quack-ups was given a human presence in the form of Suzy Cato from mid-1990 and she remained with the show until it ended in early 1993.