Craig Harrison began lecturing in English at Massey University in 1966, soon after emigrating from the UK. A decade later he turned an odd couple tale of a Māori and a Yorkshireman into pioneering cross-cultural TV comedy Joe and Koro, and an award-winning play. Harrison also scripted one-off comedy A Question of Integrity; and his novel The Quiet Earth inspired the classic Bruno Lawrence science fiction film.

He has in his writing touched the lode which may ease New Zealanders’ ability to laugh at themselves. For there is a great deal to both laugh and think about in Ground Level. [It] may well help set the scene for more comedy from local writers. Mike Nicolaidi in 1975, reviewing the play which inspired TV series Joe and Koro

More information

The Quiet Earth

1985, Original Author - Film

In director Geoff Murphy's cult sci fi feature, a global energy project has malfunctioned and scientist Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) awakes to find himself the only living being left on earth. At first he lives out his fantasies, helping himself to cars and clothes, before the implications of being 'man alone' sink in. As this awareness sends him to the brink of madness — see the excerpt above — he discovers two other survivors. One of them is a woman. The Los Angeles Daily News called the movie “quite simply the best science-fiction film of the 80s”. Read more about it here.

A Question of Integrity

1982, Writer - Television

Joe and Koro - High Society

1977, Writer - Television

In the 1970s Yorkshire emigre Craig Harrison turned the odd couple tale of a Māori and a Yorkshireman into a novel, a radio play, and this popular sitcom. Joe (Stephen Gledhill) is the nervy, university-educated librarian; his flatmate is city-raised Koro (Rawiri Paratene, in one of his earliest lead roles) who works in a fish and chip shop. In this episode, Koro’s dodgy homemade wine helps inspire embarrassing scenes at a party of Joe’s friends. Among drunkard Pākehā, watch out for a paralytic Kevin J Wilson, and a rare pre-Pork Pie appearance by Claire Oberman.

Joe and Koro

1976 - 1978, Writer, Creator - Television

The odd couple is a longtime comic staple. In the 1970s Yorkshire emigre Craig Harrison turned the tale of a Māori and a Yorkshireman into novel Ground Level, a radio play, and this ground-breaking TV series. Joe (Stephen Gledhill) is the nervy, university-educated librarian; his flatmate is Koro (Rawiri Paratene) who works in a fish and chip shop. Running for two series, the popular chalk’n’cheese sitcom was a rare comedy amongst a flowering of bicultural TV stories (The Governor, Epidemic). Harrison’s novel The Quiet Earth later inspired a classic film.