Catherine Saunders kicked off her radio career in 1961, then became a television announcer. She was a reporter for 60s magazine show Town and Around, and later began an extended run as a panelist on Selwyn Toogood’s Beauty and the Beast. In 1969 Saunders started working in public relations and marketing; she was a key player in marketing butter, Daffodil Day and the NZ Dairy Board’s 'Bigger Block of Cheese' campaign — one of the country’s most successful. She has also hosted TV's Tonight With Cathy Saunders, had her own Radio New Zealand slot, and produced RNZ hit Top Of the Morning for five years.  

We were the first group of people ... to actually speak publicly about sexual abuse, about contraception, adoption ... a lot of those letters were genuinely asking for serious advice on serious matters. Catherine Saunders on long-running panel show Beauty and the Beast, in her 2012 ScreenTalk interview with NZ On Screen

The Unauthorised History of New Zealand

2007, Subject - Television

In this satire series presenter Jeremy Wells — channelling Kenneth B Cumberland (of Landmarks fame) — examines NZ history in a mock-revisionist manner, poking fun at the pretence of the past. From the makers of Eating Media Lunch, the show is self-described as “the most important series in the history of history”. Each episode tackles the big issues, including ‘Crime’, ‘Visitors’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘Evil’. The show draws its material mostly from television archive basements, with the odd piece of fakery and animation thrown in. Michael King this defiantly ain't!

Today Live

2000, Subject - Television

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.

Tonight

2006, Subject - Television

Kiwiana - Kiwi As

1998, Subject - Television

Dilemmas

1993 - 1994, Panelist - Television

Dilemmas sought to give advice to New Zealanders on how to negotiate their day to day lives. Hosted by Australian doctor Kerryn Phelps (and later by Marcus Lush) with a rotating panel of guests, the show covered everything from annoying neighbours to harassment and violence. Guests included Jude Dobson, Philip Alpers, Ginette McDonald and Genevieve Westcott. A regular media commentator in Australia on health matters, Phelps became the first woman elected to head the Australian Medical Association; in 2011 she received an Order of Australia, for services to medicine.  

50 Forward

1995 - 1996, Presenter - Television

Here Is the News

1992, Subject - Television

Once upon a time the Kiwi accent was a broadcasting crime, and politicians decided in advance which questions they would answer on-screen. Here is the News examines three decades (up to 1992) of Kiwi TV journalism and news presentation. The roll-call of on and off camera talent provides fascinating glimpses behind key events, including early jury-rigged attempts at nationwide broadcast, Dougal Stevenson announcing the 1975 arrival of competing TV networks, the Wahine, Erebus, Muldoon, turkeys in gumboots, and the tour - where journalists too, became "objects of hatred".

You Make the Whole World Smile

1992, Performer - Music video

The video for this Red Nose Day chart-topper makes the most of a powerhouse combination: celebrities and cute babies. Although lead singer Hammond Gamble gets his share of screen time, the video is mostly devoted to close-ups of perhaps the biggest pile-up of famous Kiwis ever to cram into one music video. The faces include appearances early on by actors Simone Kessell, Ilona Rodgers, and Mark Raffety — plus The Wizard, sports legends Grant Fox, John Kirwan and Jeremy Coney, newsreaders Judy Bailey and Anita McNaught, and singers Tina Cross and Suzanne Lynch. 

The Great NZ Debate

1986, Subject - Television

Saunders and Sinclair

1985, Presenter - Television

Tonight With Cathy Saunders

1985 - 1986, Presenter - Television

Tonight with Cathy Saunders saw host Saunders taking the reins solo, following short-lived talk show Saunders and Sinclair, which she co-presented with radio personality Geoff Sinclair. Both shows debuted in 1985. Among Saunders' guests were Māori activist Donna Awatere Huata, Australian actor Vince Martin, and female impersonator Marcus Craig (aka Diamond Lil). Saunders combined PR and marketing jobs with her television gigs— including time as a panelist on Selwyn Toogood's advice show Beauty and the Beast.

The Great New Zealand 1kg of Cheese

1985, Presenter - Short Film

This 1985 promotional film for the New Zealand Dairy Board catalogues diversifying taste in cheese as Kiwis move beyond the big block of cheddar. New varieties — feta, brie, camembert — are pitched as part of an evolution towards a more exotic and ‘gourmet’ culinary culture. A camel-riding Catherine Saunders looks at the process of how cheese is made in NZ; a highlight is the making of blue vein mould, and fondue gets a mention (“gruyère is best”). The film opens with an ad anointing “the great New Zealand 1Kg!” alongside a line-up of iconic Kiwi measurements.

Tonight with Cathy Saunders - Series One, Episode 12

1985, Presenter - Television

Merv Smith, Rob Campbell, Diamond Lil, and Mary Mountier are the guests on this 1980s chat show. Host Cathy Saunders talks to Smith about 20 years as Auckland’s number one radio host, before Smith takes over to interview Diamond Lil (aka female impersonator Marcus Craig), in a segment littered with innuendo. Campbell covers the contradictions of being a unionist on the BNZ board, and horse racing expert Mountier talks Kiwi thoroughbreds. Also appearing are Limbs Dance Company, Wellington band Hot Cafe, and 1985 Telequest winner Sharon Cunningham.

Beauty and the Beast Xmas Special 1982

1982, Panelist - Television

Presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood, this panel show screened on weekday afternoons from 1976 to 1985. Toogood and four female panellists answered viewers' letters, and took on "every problem, be it incest, love or tatting", as panelist Liz Grant says in a poetry reading. This 1982 Christmas Day special drops the advice to concentrate on entertainment from a super team of 12 panelists, including regulars Shona McFarlane, Heather Eggleton, and Catherine Saunders. Johnny Frisbie attempts to teach Toogood a hula, and Toogood sings Yes! We Have No Bananas.

Mobil Song Quest

1965, Narrator - Television

Beauty and the Beast

1976 - 1985, Panelist - Television

Presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood, this beloved agony-aunt (and uncle!) discussion show screened on weekday afternoons, from 1976 to 1985. Toogood and four female panelists answered viewers' letters, taking on issues big and small. "We tackle every problem, be it incest, love or tatting" as panelist Liz Grant put it. Regular panellists included artist Shona McFarlane, Heather Eggleton, Catherine Saunders, and writer Johnny Frisbie.

Here's How

1974 - 1975, Presenter - Television

The South Tonight (Dunedin)

1985, Subject - Television

In 1969, the arrival of network television ushered in a new era of regional news to replace Town and Around, whose four editions had served local audiences in the 1960s. Christchurch and Dunedin now got different shows, both called The South Tonight. The DNTV-2 edition covered Otago/Southland; it was presented by Derek Payne and produced by Bruce Morrison. The show disappeared in 1975 but, following the amalgamation of TV1 and South Pacific Television, re-emerged in the early 1980s (initially as 7.30 South), this time with Jim Mora in the front seat.  

Town and Around

1967 - 1968, Reporter - Television

Town and Around was a nightly magazine show, covering everything from current affairs and studio interviews to slapstick to stunts; including a notorious spoof on a farmer who shod his turkeys in gumboots. A popular and wide-ranging regional series, it ran for five years from 1965, and was the training ground for a generation of industry professionals (Brian Edwards, David McPhail, and Des Monaghan amongst many others). Town and Around was made prior to a national network link, and editions came out of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.