Dean Mills joined the new second television channel in 1978, straight from school. After six months dragging cables around, he moved into camera work. Over eight years he was behind the camera on everything from wrestling (On the Mat) and song and dance shows, to an unforgettable interview with Muhammad Ali. Mills has never left cameras totally behind: based now in Sydney, he works for technology company Jenoptik.
In the 70s and 80's technology was basic, clunky and heavy as hell. But it was the dawning of an era, being new to colour, new to slow motion replays, new to hand-held cameras. It was the best job I ever had in reflection - well apart from the pay that is. Dean Mills on his time as a cameraman
The legendary Emmylou Harris brings a little bit of Nashville to TVNZ’s Auckland studio for her first ever TV special — recorded during a NZ tour in a deal which allowed her to own the international rights. One of country music’s great vocalists and most loved performers, Harris leads her seven piece band through an accomplished set (although banter is in short supply). Highlights include ‘Grievous Angel’ (which she originally recorded with her early mentor Gram Parsons), Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Racing in the Street’ and The Crystals hit ‘He’s A Rebel’.
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'.
Shazam! rode the 1980s music video boom created by the advent of MTV and the renaissance in NZ music. Aimed at a younger audience than Radio with Pictures, it played in a late afternoon, weekday time slot, and featured artist interviews and live concerts as well as sponsoring a Battle of the Bands and a music video competition. Presenters were Phillip Schofield (later a presenter with the BBC and ITV), Phillipa Dann (who moved to London with husband and future head of MTV Europe Brent Hansen) and, finally, Michelle Bracey (who became a documentary director).
This is Howard Morrison in his prime, wearing a white suit and a big smile. It’s a cabaret performance with all of Morrison’s hallmarks – big musical anthems, a few laughs and a lacing of Māori culture. His recent OBE award provides an opportunity for a self-deprecating gag – Ordinary Brown Entertainer – but this show proves he is anything but. A master of the ad lib, Morrison has a packed house hanging on his every word and note. Backed by the Yandall Sisters, he belts out a string of favourites, from ‘Begin the Beguine’ and ‘Mori the Hori’ to his hit single ‘Whakaaria Mai’.
They came, they battered, they bickered. Peter Hudson and David Halls were as famous for their on-screen spats as they were for their recipes. The couple ("Are we gay? Well, we're certainly merry") turned cooking into comedy. Coming soon after winning 1981 Feltex Entertainer of the Year, these excerpts show viewers how to make crepes with cream chicken and vegetable filling. There's microwaves, roasted nuts and dollops of innuendo. Guests are English jazz clarinetist Acker Bilk, and Irish poet and TV personality Pam Ayres, who performs some ribald rhymes.
One of two much loved children’s shows written and presented by English born entertainer Chic Littlewood in the late 70s and early 80s. The other was Chic-a-boom — and more than 500 episodes were made of the two programmes in what now looks like a much gentler era of children’s television. Littlewood was aided and abetted by various puppets including Nowcy the Dog and the McNabb family of Scottish mice (including the mischievous and contrary Willie). Assisting with the puppets was actor, and stalwart of Auckland theatre, Alma Woods.
Telethon was a widely popular 24-hour live television spectacular aimed at securing donations from viewers for a charitable cause. The feel-good vibe of Telethon was infectious, appealing to both adults, kids (who were allowed to stay up in front of the telly) and willing celebs. This selection covers highlights from the 1981 Wellington Telethon (for International Year of the Disabled). Bob Parker, Selwyn Toogood, Ian Johnstone and host Peter Sinclair get goofy amongst smurfs, bagpipes, and talking belly-buttons. "Thank you very much for your kind donation!"
This early 1980s all-singing, all-dancing, music theatre show ran for three series. It featured a 12-strong core cast — seven of whom had never previously danced, and five of whom weren't trained singers. Only one had acting experience. Members included Maggie Harper (later of Shortland Street), Richard Eriwata, Suzanne Lee, Vicky Haughton (Whale Rider) and actor Darien Takle. Regular features included stage show tributes, special guests, and a segment which created a new production out of apparently unrelated songs. A number of performers later won their own shows.
Tracy Barr succeeded Andrew Shaw and Richard Wilde (Wilkins) as TV2’s afternoon children’s host — first appearing on Tracy’s GTS (Good Time Show) in 1979. The weekly Tracy ’80 followed a year later — with music from a resident band and guests, competitions and field stories. Tracy drew criticism for her Kiwi accent and lack of rounded vowels (as Karyn Hay would a few years later) and for her wriggling, but viewers didn’t seem to mind. Tracy ’80 was replaced by Dropakulcha in 1981 and then Shazam! (with Phillip Schofield). Tracy Barr now lives in Australia.
Regular Māori programmes started on Television New Zealand in 1980 with Koha, a weekly, 30 minute programme broadcast in English. It explored everything from social problems, tribal history, natural history, about weaponry, to the preparation of food, canoe history, carvings and their meanings, language and how it changed through time. It was a window into te ao Māori for Pākekā, and provided a link to urban Māori estranged from their culture. It was the first regular Māori programme to be shown in prime time.
Man. Dog. Sheep. This was an unlikely formula for Kiwi TV gold. Showing sheepdog trials from around the country, A Dog’s Show ran from 1977 to 1992. In each trial a farmer, armed with an array of whistles and commands, instructed a sheepdog to wrangle a flock of recalcitrant sheep along a course or into a pen while the bearded, sagacious, Swannie-clad John Gordon provided the commentary. Trivia: the opening tune is a version of the Statler Brothers song ‘Flowers on the Wall’, also used in movie Pulp Fiction.
They came, they battered, they bickered. Peter Hudson and David Halls were as famous for their on-screen spats as they were for their recipes. The couple ("are we gay - well we're certainly merry") turned cooking into comedy. Their self-titled show ran for a decade on New Zealand TV and it attracted a cult following when they moved the show to the UK. The duo won Entertainer of the Year at the 1981 Feltex Awards. Microwaves, little roasted nuts and great dollops of innuendo: the sometimes fusty genre of TV culinary demonstration would never be the same.
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.
Legendary professional wrestling TV show On the Mat ran from 1975 until 1983. Each half-hour show featured wrestling matches accompanied by commentary - promoter Steve Rickard described the technical in-the-ring aspects and Ernie Leonard, and later Barry Holland, added colour. The larger-than-life wrestlers were a mix of US imports and local characters: King Curtis, Samoan Joe, Aussie Larry O'Day, Rick Martel, and Sweet William and Brute Miller (soon famous in the US as The Bushwackers). The show was the catalyst for the boom in popularity of Rickard's pro-wrestling tour.
In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.