Invercargill-raised Bob Maclaren started acting while studying architecture at Auckland University. After touring a stilt-walking theatre show globally and hosting 1993 Discovery Channel travel show Bob's World he settled in Amsterdam, where he has largely been based since. As an executive for Dutch broadcaster BNN he produced a local version of The Daily Show, and wrote and directed comedy (and performed stand-up off-screen). In 2005 he returned to Aotearoa to star as hapless MP Dennis Plant in acclaimed political satire The Pretender. After reprising the role in 2008, he was nominated for a Qantas Award.
Playing Dennis was everything but one dimensional, he was petulant, vain, stupidly overconfident and grating and annoyingly dorky. In fact writer Peter Cox created a character more dimensional in his flatness than most dramatic characters are in their emotionality. Bob Maclaren on playing fictional MP Dennis Plant, The Throng, Sep 2009
In the 2000s mockumentary realism (led by The Office) was making its mark in television comedy. Series The Pretender gave Kiwi politics the embedded camera treatment, with expat comedian Bob Maclaren playing overconfident property developer-turned-MP Dennis Plant. The first episode of the second series sees Plant cause political chaos, with the launch of his Future New Zealand party. This season was nominated for three Qantas TV awards in 2009, including best comedy. The show was created by Peter Cox (Insider’s Guide to Happiness) and Great Southern TV’s Philip Smith.
In this mockumentary series, hapless property developer turned politican Dennis Plant (played by Bob Maclaren) campaigns to win a fictional Queenstown seat, then later launches party Future New Zealand. Made by Great Southern, the first season screened on TV3. A second season on TV One coincided with the 2008 election; it was thrice nominated at the 2009 Qantas NZ Film and TV Awards (Best Comedy, plus Actor and Supporting Actor, for Maclaren and Andrew King respectively). Reality met fiction when Plant's 2008 election blog appeared on the NZ Herald website.