Grant Bowler cemented his place in Kiwi television history by playing charismatic Outrageous Fortune bad boy Wolf West. Long based out of Australia, the self-described 'Aussiwi' has become increasingly visible on American screens since 2008, backing movie work with roles in shows Ugly Betty, True Blood and Lost.
Bad guys are so much fun: you generally have so much more latitude to play. And I have spent a lot of time playing the good guy over the years, so it’s a nice departure for me. Grant Bowler in Chemical Magazine, August 2011
Politician Paula Bennett proudly proclaims her West Auckland roots in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. Bennett talks about how hit show Outrageous Fortune was important in helping Kiwis reclaim pride in being a bogan — and a Westie. She also praises the show's strong yet vulnerable matriarch Cheryl West. Robyn Malcolm, who played Cheryl, remembers early days in the role, before Outrageous Fortune became "the show where New Zealanders fell in love with themselves". Outside of Shortland Street, it became part of the country's longest-running drama franchise.
This first episode of NZ's most popular and critically acclaimed drama series revolves around Wolf West being sentenced to four years in prison — and his wife, Cheryl, deciding it's time for her and her children to get out of the "family business". Wolf and the local police are dubious. But even this early in proceedings, it would be foolish to underestimate Cheryl. Whether she can take her daughters (ditzy wannabe-model Pascalle and the cunning Loretta) and sons (yin and yang twins Van and Jethro) with her is another matter altogether. And so begins a dynasty.
After her husband is jailed, matriarch Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm) decides the time has come to set her family on the straight and narrow. But can the Wests change old habits? So begins the six-series long saga of the Westie dynasty. Hugely popular at home (beloved by public, critics and awards-nights alike), and imitated overseas, Outrageous Fortune has been a flag-bearer for TV3 and contemporary NZ telly drama; the series proved — in all its grow-your-own glory — that genre TV in NZ could be so much more than overseas stories pasted to a local setting.
This 2000 reality TV show was the Kiwi version of a 1998 Belgian concept, which sold to 40 countries. The show involved contestants completing challenges to avoid elimination and win a cash prize — the complication being that one of them is a mole, planted to sabotage their efforts. The host was actor Mark Ferguson (Living the Dream) in his first outing as a reality TV host. NZ Herald reviewer Fiona Rae argued that Ferguson's "low-key approach and easy rapport with the team" hid a devious underbelly, as he kept pushing the players and ensured all were under suspicion.