Although better known as a songwriter and a spirited champion of New Zealand music, Arthur Baysting made a number of contributions to the screen. In the 1970s he was a scriptwriter on breakthrough dramas Winners & Losers and Sleeping Dogs, while his white-clad alter ego Neville Purvis graced both cabaret stages and a short-lived TV series. He passed away on 3 December 2019.
He is a trained journalist, a much published poet, a stand-up comedian, a scriptwriter and the yoghurt man in the TV ad ... He also writes the material, for his own, his very own, creation — Neville Purvis, a sort of urban Fred Dagg, a cross between Dame Edna Everage and Ian Kirkpatrick, if you can imagine such a thing. Writer Tony Reid summarises the non-musical end of Arthur Baysting's career, The Listener, 25 February 1978, page 12
Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan.
As this promotional clip makes clear, Funny As features an impressive roll call of Kiwi comedy legends. The five-part series traces the history of New Zealand comedy through interviews and archive footage. In coming weeks NZ On Screen will be publishing extended interviews with the comedy talent captured on camera for the series. Funny As ranges all the way from the early days of live comedy to screen pioneers (Fred Dagg, the Week of It team), the legendary Billy T, and the Kiwi comedians who've made their mark internationally (Flight of the Conchords, Rhys Darby).
This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.
In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, singer Hinewehi Mohi recalls the controversy that followed her Maori language rendition of 'God Defend New Zealand' at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. She talks of her immersion in music at school and its importance to her following the birth of her daughter with cerebral palsy (and the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre this inspired her to establish). As a songwriter who doesn't play an instrument, she explains the origins of 'Kotahitanga' — her Maori language-meets-dance pop hit with Oceania in 2002.
Singer Moana Maniapoto discusses her evolution as a Māori musician in this episode from a series for high school music students. After first singing in public on the marae and learning to harmonise at school, she paid her way through university by singing in nightclubs. She describes her epiphany in a Detroit church as she realised that she needed to sing Māori songs rather than keep trying to emulate American soul and r'n'b divas. An acoustic performance of 'Hine Te Iwaiwa' (from her Toru album) is followed by a demonstration of traditional instruments.
This series, made for use as a teaching resource in secondary schools by the NZ Music Industry Commission, was produced and directed by longtime Kiwi music champion Arthur Baysting. The full series featured 47 leading acts (including Don McGlashan, the Black Seeds, Nesian Mystik, Chris Knox and Fat Freddy's Drop) talking directly to the next generation of musicians about their music and careers. They offer intimate performances of classic songs, and heartfelt advice on subjects including songwriting, recording techniques, technology and the music industry.
TrinityRoots' vocalist and songwriter Warren Maxwell talks about his career and songwriting in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Maxwell explains the genesis of the Wellington roots/reggae act's classic 'Little Things' (and the making of its music video); he performs a stripped back excerpt from the song. Maxwell also recalls the problems the band encountered in recording their first album and previews a new work, 'Angel Song' (which later appeared on TrinityRoots' second album Home, Land and Sea).
Hip hop DJ/ producer P-Money (Pete Wadams) talks about a career born from very modest beginnings in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. After initial attempts at scratching on his father’s turntable were quickly rebuffed, he began making music using twin cassette decks. Success in DJ contests followed; and creating his own beats led to collaborations with acts including DLT, Scribe and Che Fu. He describes the process where his music for Scribe’s ‘I Remember’ was built up from samples from a particularly unlikely source.
Bill Lake of Wellington blues/roots institution The Windy City Strugglers takes the podium for this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Accompanied by fellow Strugglers Andrew Delahunty (guitar) and broadcaster/music critic Nick Bollinger (bass), he plays ‘Good Grief’ as an example of the way a song can be written through thinking about a single phrase. However, the main order of business is a beginners guide to the blues and rock’n’roll rhythms he holds so dear (along with a demonstration of guitar playing using open tunings).
Indie legend Chris Knox is featured in this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. He performs 'One Fell Swoop' — a love song he describes as an aberration amongst his more "nasty" numbers — and explains its composition while denying Whitney Houston comparisons. Knox is typically forthright in discussing his varied career as musician, cartoonist, TV presenter and "renaissance bloke". He outlines his philosophy of DIY self-sufficiency and extols the virtues of never compromising (so that even failure is "much more meaningful").
Former Blam Blam Blam, Front Lawn and Mutton Birds member, Don McGlashan takes time out from making his first solo album to talk about songwriting in this episode from a series made for high school music students. McGlashan is passionate in exhorting his audience to write their own songs and make their own voices heard. Acoustic versions of his classic 'Dominion Road' (written about a neighbouring street) and another Mutton Birds number 'White Valiant' (based on a dream) underline his enthusiasm for writing about immediate surroundings, not faraway places.
In this episode from a series made for high school music students, Dallas Tamaira and DJ Mu recall Fat Freddy's Drop's early history as a duo with just turntables and a microphone in a vibrant Wellington scene. They reveal an aversion to rehearsals, preferring to develop their music in a live setting and Mu demonstrates the component parts of their song 'Midnight Marauders' on his secret weapon — an Akai sampler capable of emulating all of the instruments in their sound. His verdict that every school should have one may not have gladdened principals' hearts.
Rodney Fisher and Gareth Thomas from Auckland band Goodshirt preach a DIY message, in this episode from a series directed at secondary school music students. In the backyard of the house where they made their debut album, they perform stripped back versions of 'Slippy' (inspired by a Grey Lynn bus ride) and 'Blowing Dirt'. There's also a guided tour of the back shed where they built a recording studio with accessibly priced equipment that was good enough to produce a chart topping single in 'Sophie' — and stop them going into debt to a record company.
Exponents lead singer Jordan Luck discusses his career and approach to songwriting in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Luck recalls his own first musical steps at Geraldine High School and the realisation that he could write his own material. He performs an acoustic version of his classic song 'Victoria' which he wrote about the toll of domestic violence on his landlord at the time — an example of his preference for writing from personal experience. He also previews 'Finesse', a work in progress about Invercargill.
Dancer and performer Mika (Neil Gudsell) introduces his urban Māori, Pacific dance troupe Torotoro in this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. He formed the group after seeing an opportunity for a big, young, funky Māori show during his own overseas performances. Torotoro fuses breakdance, kapa haka, hip hop and Pasifika influences, and its members have graduated from Gudsell’s Mika Haka youth programme. They talk about how the opportunity to travel and perform internationally has changed their lives.
This episode from a series for high school music students features Auckland hip-hop act Nesian Mystik who can speak from personal experience about music education after forming at Western Springs College and first making an impression in Rockquest's Pacifica Beats. They perform stripped down versions of their APRA Silver Scroll winner 'For the People', and 'Better than Change' (written by Dallas Tamaira of Fat Freddy's Drop) and emphasise how simple music making can be — they started out with just their voices and a Playstation One programme.
SJD (aka Sean James Donnelly), winner of the 2013 Taite Music Prize, talks samples, lyrics and home studios in this series made for secondary school music students. Donnelly demonstrates his fondness for old synthesisers (he admits liking their crankiness, and the way they make their most interesting sounds as they start to fall apart). Talking a couple of years after the release of second album Lost Soul Music, he traces the origins of Lost Soul single ‘A Boy’, and its music video — which features his son, and was animated and co-directed by his brother Kieran.
Wellington funk, soul, reggae act The Black Seeds manage to cram themselves into a single shot for this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. Bookended by stripped back performances of 'Keep on Pushing' and 'Going Back Home', they explain the development of these songs from their origins as bass grooves. Mike Fabulous has cautionary words for aspiring songwriters about the dangers of overcomplicated song structures while Barnaby Weir reassuringly suggests that virtuosity is not an absolute prerequisite for being in the band.
Whānau is at the forefront of this episode from a series made for high school music students, which features bilingual Māori jazz and soul diva Whirimako Black. After an introduction in te reo, there’s an intimate acoustic performance of ‘Te Tini O Toi’ from her award-winning debut album Shrouded in the Mist. It’s a lullaby written for her children — and grandchildren to come — so they will know where they come from. Black also honours her grandfather, a multi-instrumentalist who began encouraging her to make music when she was three years old.
Mareko, Savage and Alphrisk from Dawn Raid act Deceptikonz offer a rhyme filled hip hop primer in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Their vision of hip hop has little use for American-style guns and gangster rappers, but fighting with words is another matter and there are tips on the art of writing a battle verse (along with unlikely endorsements for The Discovery Channel and English classes). They also stress the importance of understanding an industry where artists arrive as musicians but need to leave as businessmen.
In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, James Reid (from The Feelers) and his brother Donald (a singer-songwriter who has co-written several Feelers songs) recall their school days when music making was frowned on by guidance counsellors rather than encouraged by projects like this one. Armed with acoustic guitars and a piano, they play excerpts from four songs (‘Communicate’, ‘We Raised Hell’, ‘Fishing For Lisa’ and ‘Unleash the Fury’) and discuss their philosophy of songwriting which is “all about being in the moment”.
Wayne Mason — multi-instrumentalist and composer of The Fourmyula classic 'Nature' — talks about songwriting and his musical evolution in this episode, from a series made for high school students. He demonstrates his piano playing (on an energetic boogie-woogie work out) and a Scandalli accordion on 'High and Dry' (which he wrote in the Warratahs). He discusses the origins of 'Nature', and his songwriting technique (which always begins on a guitar); and muses on his high school band The Fourmyula which took him to Abbey Road, where he met The Beatles.
This lighthearted road movie follows three bogans on a mission to join the world of movies. After hearing that Peter Jackson is putting Lord of the Rings on film, they set off from West Auckland for Wellywood, hoping against the odds to score acting roles as hobbits. Written by actor Peter Tait — with help from his bogan co-stars and director Grant Lahood — the film also features a memorable cameo by Madeline Sami, plus a blink-and-you-ll miss it appearance by Mr Jackson himself. And some of the cast really did appear in The Lord of the Rings....
This documentary follows the experiences of two groups at the 1999 Sweetwaters music festival: six teens (including actor Kate Elliott and future advertising producer Nigel Sutton), and a group of 30-somethings (many of them veterans of the 1980s era Sweetwaters). By the end of the festival some hangovers are being nursed, mostly spirits remain undimmed. English singer Elvis Costello drops the on-stage bomb that artists haven't been paid, Chris Knox notes the "money fiasco" his own way, and the festivalgoers rate how the weekend went.
Kiwis are often accused of not being very good at expressing their feelings. This documentary (made for TV One's Work of Art programme) offers striking evidence to the contrary, using some of our favourite love songs as proof. A roll call of New Zealand's best-known musicians and songwriters talk here candidly about love, and play some of the songs inspired by their experiences. The result is a film that shines a light on love Kiwi-style, and provides a fascinating survey of New Zealand pop music from the last 30 years along the way.
This full-length documentary gives warm-spirited context to the song that has been the soundtrack to countless back lawn crate parties and freezing works chains (watch the credits). It was released as the B-side of singer Engelbert Humperdinck's Please Release Me, and became an unlikely hit in Aotearoa with fans who have done the "dance, dance, dance ...": including Dalvanius (who discusses its "pop-schlock" charms), Bunny Walters, The Topp Twins, and a special group of ten guitarists. The documentary also explores why "the national anthem of Patea" is so appealing to Māori.
A social cricket match in Cornwall Park needs a third umpire after a bogan's dog swallows the ball in this short film. As the men in white struggle to field the ball, a statistics-obsessed sport crosses absurd boundaries. A line-up of contemporary NZ comedic talent features on the field— plus New Zealand Black Caps cricketers (and 1992 World Cup bowlers) Chris Pringle and Willie Watson. Bradman was written and directed by Peter Tait (actor in classic shorts The Singing Trophy and Kitchen Sink). The film includes classic song ‘Bradman’ by Australian singer Paul Kelly.
This 1991 telefilm follows young undercover cop Tony (William Brandt) who gets in too deep when infiltrating a heroin ring in the underbelly of Wellington’s music and pub scene. The Kiwi noir tale was inspired by real-life undercover policeman Wayne Haussman, who was convicted of drug trafficking. Directed by Yvonne Mackay (The Silent One), it was made as a pilot for a series that never eventuated. At the 1993 NZ Film and Television Awards Undercover won Best TV Drama; Jennifer Ludlam was awarded for her role as Tony's ex-prostitute girlfriend. Cliff Curtis plays a musician.
Cowboys of Culture is director Geoff Steven's personal perspective on the Kiwi cinema renaissance of the 1970s. It traces the development of the local film industry from the ‘she'll be right' days when filming permits were unknown, and all that was needed to get a picture up were a Bolex camera, enthusiasm and ingenuity. Raw they might have been, but the films (Wild Man, Sleeping Dogs, Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace) represented a vital new cultural force. The film features interviews with the major players, and clips from their movies.
Ambitious Jonathan Gunson-created children's series Space Knights pitched the King Arthur myth into a zany sci fi universe of Knights of the Round Space Station, Vader-esque villains, and laser lance jousting. The distinctive look of this early South Pacific Pictures series — like a picture book come to life — was developed by Listener cartoonist Chris Slane, and achieved by using actors in life-size puppet suits and blue screen effects. The series was 22 half hour episodes and screened internationally. The memorable 'Space Junk' theme song was by Dave Dobbyn.
Gibson Group production Public Eye was inspired by the British series, Spitting Image. Latex puppets caricature topical personalities, mostly drawn from the world of politics (Ruth Richardson, Helen Clark, Winston Peters etc). Their foibles are duly skewered in fast-moving comic skits such as the 'Ruatoria Rasta' segment, 'The White Way' and 'Honky Tanga'. The wickedly grotesque puppets were based on drawings by cartoonist Trace Hodgson, and built by a team headed by future Weta FX maestro, Richard Taylor.
This 80s relic was a homegrown take on US show That's Incredible!, with spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings replaced with subjects that were more kiwiana kitsch than wow! It was the first show from production company Communicado; presenters included Tim Shadbolt, Neil Roberts, Sue Kedgley, Phil Gifford and Phil Keoghan. In a Vanity Fair interview to illustrate Kiwi's "enormous understatement" Jane Campion famously quipped: "You know, they used to have a program on TV in New Zealand, That's Fairly Interesting. [...] In America, it's That's Incredible!"
This wryly-titled show was a homegrown take on US show That's Incredible!, with the spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings of the original replaced with more downbeat kiwiana kitsch subjects. It was the first series from production company Communicado. Presenters included mayor Tim Shadbolt, Neil Roberts, future Green-MP Sue Kedgley and rugby writer Phil Gifford. This highlights and bloopers episode from the first series, includes crayfish hypnotism, obese cats, a wind-turbine powered catamaran, dancing cows, and Gifford as a Gorillagram.
Infamous, short-lived, and arguably unfairly maligned, The Neville Purvis Family Show was hosted by the occasionally foul-mouthed and very Kiwi Neville Purvis — in reality, writer and musician Arthur Baysting (Sleeping Dogs). The series is best known for containing possibly the first use of the f-word on New Zealand television. The full episode containing the controversial utterance has likely been lost; surviving material from the show includes appearances by PM Rob Muldoon, actor Marshall Napier as Neville's mechanic mate, and Limbs Dance Company.
This showcase for Arthur Baysting's sleazy, comedic alter-ego Neville ("on the level") Purvis ("at your service") is notorious for containing the first use of the f-word on a New Zealand television show. As a result, Baysting was banned and crossed the Tasman to find work (an irony given the show's anti-Australian jokes). Surviving segments from the show include a launch by PM Rob Muldoon, a tour of Avalon, a performance by Limbs Dance Company (including Mary-Jane O'Reilly), a visit to the Close to Home set, an interview with a garden gnome fan, and some Mark II Zephyr worship.
Smith (Sam Neill, in his breakthrough screen role) is devastated when his wife runs off with his best friend Bullen (Ian Mune). Smith escapes to the Coromandel. Meanwhile, the government enlists an anti-terrorist force to crack down on its opponents. Bullen, now a guerrilla, asks Smith to join the revolution. Directed by Roger Donaldson, this adaptation of CK Stead's novel Smith's Dream heralded a new wave of Kiwi cinema; it was one of the only local films of the 1970s to win a big local audience. This excerpt includes a much talked about scene: a baton charge by government forces.
Bill Morrison is a man on a mission. His wife and child can't walk nearly as fast. As the trio head toward the mining settlement where a new job awaits, Bill is about to react in different ways to two very different surprises — one from his wife, and one at the mine. This half-hour drama from the Winners & Losers series is based on a Maurice Shadbolt story, which later fed into Shadbolt's decade-in-the-making novel Strangers and Journeys. Singer turned advertising veteran Clyde Scott plays Bill. Actor and public speaking expert Jane Thomas John plays the nameless, long-suffering wife.
Frank Sargeson’s tale of two men and a boat is adapted for this episode of Winners & Losers. Fred (played by radio actor William Smith) sets off for a spot of fishing with recent acquaintance Ken (theatre veteran David Weatherley). As the pair head out across the harbour, Ken doesn't seem all that receptive to Fred's friendly interrogation. The episode marked only the second time that Ian Mune had directed solo for the screen. Storms, a leaky dinghy and Mune's near drowning while acting as a stand-in made this one of the most challenging shoots of the Winners series.