Wellington-raised producer Debra Kelleher has more than three decades experience in the screen industry. She cut her production teeth in Australia (Neighbours, Sale of the Century), before returning home to work on Shortland Street, then cult teen show The Tribe. Kelleher was at the helm of breakfast TV show Good Morning, and five seasons of flagship TVNZ show Dancing with The Stars.
We hopefully inspire and enable the cast to take risks, feel confident and create the best entertainment for our loyal audience. Also delegate, delegate, delegate, otherwise you DIE! Debra Kelleher on producing five seasons of Dancing with The Stars, in a 2009 TVNZ interview
This major documentary series chronicles the first half century of Kiwi television. Made for the Prime network (after being declined by TVNZ), it examines the medium’s evolution across seven episodes. After an opening 70 minute overview, individual programmes covered the stories of sport, entertainment, drama and comedy, protest coverage, New Zealand identity and Māori television — with an impressive array of interviews, and 50 years worth of telly highlights. John Bates was nominated for Best Documentary Director at the 2011 Aotearoa Film and TV Awards.
Dancing with the Stars puts celebrities through a series of ballroom dancing challenges. This excerpt from the final of the fifth series sees TV presenter (and future Labour MP) Tamati Coffey channel his inner matador. He and dance partner Samantha Hitchcock perform their second routine of the night: the paso doble. Coffey is "flying" after the judges' review, including unexpected praise from Craig Revel Horwood. Coffey ultimately went on to claim the final in a closely contested public vote, beating Olympic champion boardsailor Barbara Kendall.
In this excerpt from the final of the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars, two contestants remain: Silver Ferns netballer Temepara Bailey (then known as Temepara George), and Kiwis rugby league player Monty Betham. The clip recaps Bailey’s path to the final — including a netball injury scare — and showcases her foxtrot with dance partner Stefano Olivieri. Then it’s over to the judges to rate how the former World Netball Champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist has performed on the dance floor. Bailey would go on to win the season.
This TVNZ production showcases the phantasmagoria of fashion and theatre that is the Montana World of Wearable Art Awards. Models, performers, designers and founder Suzie Moncrieff are interviewed behind the scenes; then the creations take to the TSB Arena stage. A headliner of Wellington’s events calendar, WOW moved to the capital from Nelson in 2005. Breakfast TV hosts Sarah Bradley and ex-Tall Black Brendon Pongia present the awards, crowning ovine-themed ‘Rattle Your Dags’ 2007's supreme winner. Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan appears as a mad hatter.
As the third season of hit show Dancing with the Stars began, broadcaster Paul Holmes was an underdog. His dance partner Rebecca Nicholson told Newstalk ZB that Holmes "dances like my dad". By mid-season Holmes knew that he needed to pull something out of the bag to stay in the running. The result: dancing the paso doble to Michael Jackson’s 'Thriller'. Judge Craig Revel Horwood called the routine "appallingly fabulous", as Holmes traded quips with the judges. In 2018 Stuff rated the homage to the King of Pop one of the show's most memorable moments.
Freaky creator Thomas Robins’ second horror anthology for kids makes use of a sophisticated story structure. Years ago Room 21 at Killian High was cursed by its satanic school founder. A new principal dismisses warnings and opens the space, unleashing the curse onto new students. Each episode is split into three parts as three students battle demons. The number 21 plays an important role; the 21 students of Room 21 must overcome an eclectic range of demons or else the evil Killian claims their souls ‘forever’. A second season followed in 2008.
Midway through the second season of the hit ballroom dancing show, politician Rodney Hide had won fans, lost weight, and weathered accusations that vote rigging had gone his way. More drama was to come: in this excerpt, Hide fails to catch dance partner Krystal Stuart at the end of their cha-cha, leading to the lowest score possible, and subsequent elimination. In 2018 Stuff rated the mishap as one of Dancing with the Stars' five most memorable moments. Hide regained some dignity in a series final guest appearance, when he and Stuart returned to execute the routine.
Each episode of this kids horror series features three ‘curse busting’ stories. In this first episode, student Jack Williams traces the curse back to creepy Charles Killian’s fondness for satanic rituals. Killian dies a fiery death and damns Room 21’s future students. Despite grave warnings, the new principal unlocks the classroom — and the curse awakens. In the second story it’s studious Celia’s turn to contain and destroy a ‘body jumping’ spirit before it claims her soul; the last tale pits Johnny against a fat-hungry warlock who comes a ‘splatter-tastic’ cropper. A second season followed in 2008.
Based on a UK reality format, Dancing with the Stars sees a line-up of celebrities paired with a professional dance partner, and put through ballroom dance routines. Judges and a public vote eliminate a pair each week. A five time winner of best programme in its category, the show played for five hit seasons on TVNZ, hosted by Jason Gunn and Candy Lane. In 2015 it was relaunched by Great Southern TV for TV3; Dominic Bowden and Sharyn Casey hosted. Dai Henwood and Casey presented the seventh series in 2018. Winners have included Norm Hewitt and and Suzanne Paul.
Dancing with the Stars was a ratings hit for TV One. The opening season was named Best Entertainment/ Reality Programme at the 2005 Qantas Awards, and viewers switched on in droves to watch Kiwi celebrities tackling the challenge of ballroom dancing — and sometimes failing. In this brief collection of season one bloopers, host Candy Lane intentionally bumbles over her lines after examining Bernice Mene's outfit, Tim Shadbolt falls over (three times), and actor Shane Cortese gets a kick where it hurts the most. The montage is set to Supergrass song ‘Alright’.
For her first feature, writer/director Gillian Ashurst wanted a “big wide road movie; big skies; big long roads.” Cruising the Canterbury landscapes are small-town dreamers Alice (Heavenly Creature Melanie Lynskey) and Johnny (future Almighty Johnson Dean O’Gorman). But the duo’s adventures go awry after encountering a charming American cowboy. Reviews were generally upbeat: praising the talented cast, plus Ashurst’s ability to mix moods and genres. Snakeskin won five awards at the 2001 NZ Film and TV Awards, including best film and cinematography.
One of the most successful television shows shot on Kiwi soil, The Tribe was the brainchild of British-born Raymond Thompson. In a future where the adults have been wiped out by a virus, the children that remain have formed into competing tribes, some of whom live to terrorise. Running five seasons, The Tribe sold to more than 120 territories, and the cast toured performances from the soundtrack for overseas fans. The cast were almost entirely New Zealanders, as were most of the crew. Sequel The New Tomorrow, following descendants of the original characters, screened in 2005.
Set in a future where teen gangs control the streets, The Tribe became a global hit at the turn of the millenium. In this second episode, the group have to decide whether they trust Lex enough to let him into the safety of the shopping mall. Lex appears out to prove that he is the resident alpha male, especially after the arrival of Bray (Dwayne Cameron), who has a surprise to spring. For the first season, a group of young people read each script in order to check that The Tribe provided what creator Raymond Thompson called "an accurate interpretation of children's ideas".
The first episode of The Tribe introduces many of the key elements that would capture fans around the globe: including a future where teens rule, and a shopping mall that provides a bolthole from terrifying, colourfully-garbed gangs. After meeting the only occupant, Amber (Beth Allen) decides the mall could be the perfect place for her new friends to hole up in. Meanwhile Lex (Caleb Ross) — soon to become one of The Tribe's longest-serving anti-heroes — gets angry. Employing roughly 500 cast and crew, Raymond Thompson's show introduced a host of young actors over five seasons.
A Twist in the Tale was one of a series of kidult shows launched by The Tribe creator Raymond Thompson, after he relocated to New Zealand. The anthology series spins from a storyteller (Star Trek's William Shatner) introducing a story (often fantastical) to a group of children, some of whom appear in the tales. The show featured early appearances by many young Kiwi thespians, including Antonia Prebble, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Dwayne Cameron and Michelle Ang. Although the writing team were British, some of the directors and most of the crew were New Zealanders.
Presented by William Shatner, A Twist In The Tale was an anthology series with each episode featuring a new story for Shatner to tell a group of children gathered round the fireplace. In this adventure, a freak storm causes a strange girl (Westside's Antonia Prebble) to appear in a boy’s bedroom cupboard, only to discover she’s travelled back in time 100 years. When some futuristic technology goes missing and the family farm ends up on the line, the children must put their differences aside. The episode also features a memorable appearance by Craig Parker as the family's accountant.
In this episode of anthology series A Twist in the Tale, two children visit a Devon estate and discover a barrel load of mysteries involving the story of King Arthur — including a hidden shrine, a soothsayer, and an excavation reaching its climactic stages. After being beckoned into the woods one day by a woman in white, young Aidan (Nicko Vella) finds himself being pulled towards the excavation site. But just what part is he meant to play? A Twist in the Tale was filmed in New Zealand, with William Shatner (Star Trek 's original Captain Kirk) introducing each story.
Over nearly two decades and almost 9000 hours of TV time, Good Morning was a TVNZ light entertainment mainstay, airing on weekdays from 9am on TV One. Filmed at Wellington’s Avalon Studios for most of its run, the magazine show ranged from advertorials for recipes and home appliances to news, film reviews, aerobics, interviews, and … hypnotism. Presenters included inaugural host Liz Gunn, Mary Lambie (with her cat Lou), Sarah Bradley, Brendon Pongia, Steve Gray, Hadyn Jones, Lisa Manning, Rod Cheeseman, Jeanette Thomas, Matai Smith, and Astar.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.