Brent Hansen was a director of iconic 80s music show Radio With Pictures for four years. In 1987 he joined music network MTV in London. By 2003 he had risen to the position of creative president of the entire MTV network outside of America. Hansen finally left MTV in 2006.
They said they were just about to start up their Europe office and would I like a job. It wasn’t part of my plan, but I thought ‘I’ll test myself’. Brent Hansen, on joining music network MTV in 1987
This 1999 documentary see presenter Gary McCormick exploring the lives of New Zealand expats living in London. London Kiwis – including MTV Europe head Brent Hansen, Angel at My Table actor Kerry Fox, chef Peter Gordon, house-boaters Karyn Hay and Andrew Fagan, and drunk backpackers at The Church – reflect on their overseas experience and the meaning of home. Produced alongside a companion documentary on Kiwis in Ireland, London Connection was a further collaboration between McCormick, director Bruce Morrison and producer William Grieve (Heartland).
Backch@t was a magazine-style arts and culture show that appealed, from the opening acid-jazz theme tune, to a literate late-90s arts audience. Fronted by media personality Bill Ralston, the show included reporters Mark Crysell and Jodi Ihaka, and Chris Knox appears as the weekly film reviewer. In keeping with Ralston’s journalistic background, Backch@t took a ‘news’ approach to the arts, debating topics in the studio and interviewing the personalities, as well as covering the sector stories.
Conservation pioneer Richard Henry tried to save the kākāpō from rats and stoats, via an island sanctuary in 1890s Fiordland. His doomed bird rescue efforts might seem an odd subject for a pop ballad. Singer/songwriter Andrew Fagan also included a paean to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on 1985 Mockers album Culprit and the King. Fagan argues that adventuring is "naturally something to aspire to. Writing pop songs about it never felt like an issue to me." This performance of the song, directed in a single shot by Brent Hansen, roams a gloomy Avalon studio.
True Colours came about thanks to a 1986 dispute between record companies and TVNZ. The companies demanded payment for videos, partly because of the costs of producing them; TVNZ refused, arguing the videos were a form of sales promotion. TVNZ then took all its music shows off-air, including Radio with Pictures. They were replaced by True Colours, hosted by RWP's Dick Driver and Shazam!'s Phillipa Dann. It featured mostly live-in-the-studio NZ bands, along with music news and interviews. The dispute was resolved by year's end; True Colours ran for seven of its 10 planned episodes.
Born of a dispute between TVNZ and record companies over video payments, True Colours tended to feature New Zealand bands in a studio setting, plus the occasional video. This first episode sets the template. Former Radio with Pictures host Dick Driver and Phillipa Dann (from pop show Shazam!) introduce a magazine-style show of live music, news and interviews. Ardijah open proceedings here, with their mix of polynesian R&B and funk. Later Tim Finn gets the interview treatment. The dispute was eventually settled and True Colours ended after seven episodes.
Nick Sampson wrote Netherworld Dancing Toys' big hit 'For Today' during a summer spent working at a Taranaki freezing works. His love song has become a classic — aided in no small part by Annie Crummer's soaring vocal. The TVNZ video, directed by Radio With Pictures producer Brent Hansen, places the band in a studio (where Crummer sings with Kim Willoughby in a precursor to their time in When the Cat's Away) and on the Cook Strait ferry (where the shoot was nearly derailed when lunch in a Picton pub almost led to the band missing the return sailing).
The ever combative Lou Reed had one memorably tense (and lost) Kiwi television encounter, with Dylan Taite. A decade later Keith Tannock fares better with the legendary New York rocker in this interview for TVNZ’s 80s music show. From behind impenetrable aviator shades, Reed is always on guard but happy to advocate for literate and thoughtful rock’n’roll, extol the virtues of the recently introduced CD, pinball and Police Academy, and express the hope that his music is “if not illuminating, at least interesting” and is at the very least, “good for a laugh”.
Every year pipe bands from around the country gather to perform at the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships. This edition took place in Christchurch over three days in March 1985, with bands from around the country testing their abilities. Supreme champs Wellington showcase their musicality, the local Scottish Society display expert staff flourishing, and all the bands perform together in the massed finale. The special was directed and produced by Brent Hansen, who would go on to become the Creative President and Editor-in-Chief of MTV International.
RWP reporter/director Brent Hansen (later head of MTV Europe) visits the South Island: checking venues, talking to local luminaries, catching live bands and generally taking the pulse of the local music scene. Flying Nun is on the rise (and just starting to attract international attention) although none of the label's major acts are playing near the RWP cameras. Christchurch is in flux waiting on the next big pop act to emerge, while Dunedin is a hive of activity with a new generation of Flying Nun acts starting to come through. Then there's Crystal Zoom...
The Mockers had a breakthrough year in 1984. Their sixth single 'Swear It's True' caught New Zealand's attention, and in May their debut album peaked at number four on the Kiwi charts. In June they played Mainstreet for one of 1984's batch of Radio with Pictures specials, spawning the live album Caught in the Act, which was released in July. Vocalist and part-time poet Andrew Fagan cuts a piratical figure in his sailor's jacket and trademark fingerless gloves. Dunedin band The Idles were a lesser known proposition. They made ripples in 1984 with their first EP, 'Agroculture'.
In New Zealand for his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour, David Bowie stops for a cigarette with Radio with Pictures, to talk about past, present and future projects. Bowie mentions recording hit album Let’s Dance in three weeks, and briefly touches on mysterious music and screen projects, and the "very funny" Ziggy Stardust concert film. Also mentioned: his opinions on Jagger versus McCartney, his desire to work again with Iggy Pop, and how he feels about making the cover of Time magazine. The interview is bookended with brief footage of Bowie's opening number at Athletic Park.
Shot in the same year he became producer of Radio With Pictures, Brent Hansen created this gem before going on to become Editor-in-Chief and President of Creative for MTV International. Like a cross between a Kraftwerk gig and an early episode of Dr Who, Pulsing features what must have been particularly exciting special effects, but sadly arrives curiously free of content warnings. The sight of ex-Play School host Tim Bartlett being aurally tortured has lined psychiatrists' pockets for decades.
Radio with Pictures producer (and future MTV boss) Brent Hansen talks to David Bowie, while he is in Auckland to star in film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. His darker 1970s days behind him, Bowie proves a relaxed and charming interviewee. Following a triumphant Broadway run in The Elephant Man, he discusses stage and screen acting, the use of his music in recent films and his own directing aspirations. Bowie explains the cut-up technique of writing learned from William S Burroughs, and looks forward to making his next album (the hugely successful Let’s Dance).
For a generation of music fans before the internet, show Radio with Pictures was a vital link to local and international music — and essential viewing before TV2's Sunday night horror movies. Following on from Grunt Machine in 1976, its presenters included Karyn Hay, Dr Rock (Barry Jenkin), Dick Driver Phil O'Brien. RWP's extended run coincided with the rise of MTV and the music video, and a burgeoning 1980s New Zealand music scene. Videos were a staple, but artist interviews also featured. The show also staged a number of Mainstreet concerts featuring leading local artists.
In the early 80s Ready to Roll was NZ’s premier TV pop show. It emerged in the pre-music video boom mid-70s hosted by Roger Gascoigne (and later Stu Dennison) with bands and dancers live in the studio. By the early 80s it was a seamless video clip Top 20 countdown — introduced by the Commodores pumping ‘Machine Gun’ — and appointment Saturday evening viewing for music fans (and a regular in the week’s Top 10 rating shows). It then evolved into a brand, got retitled RTR Countdown, and spawned multiple RTR offshoots (Mega-Mix, Sounz and New Releases), before disappearing in the mid-90s.