Jason Gunn is one of the most recognised faces on New Zealand television. He began as a presenter on children's TV. These days Gunn is best known for hosting top-rating programme Dancing with the Stars and the game show Wheel of Fortune.
Every so often the tapes of old shows come out and the kids are like, ‘Oh tell me you didn’t!’ The seventeen-year-old is into it because she thinks it’s retro...[ ] but the twelve year old says, “What were you thinking! Who wears shirts like that!” Jason Gunn
New Zealand television's longest running children's show turns 30 with a two hour live extravaganza — far removed from its modest, half hour beginnings back in 1981. Current hosts Charlie, Johnson and Gem are joined by a parade of past presenters who reminisce, and compete to find the show's best decade. Masterchef finalist Jax Hamilton provides snacks, and celebrities send greetings. In amongst the cupcakes, gunge, fart jokes and mayhem, the programme enters its fourth decade as an institution, watched by the children of its original audience.
This episode of the kids' TV institution celebrates te reo — one of Aotearoa's three official languages — for Māori Language Week. The July 2011 show opens at its Christchurch studio with a haka from Spreydon's kura kaupapa; from there the kōrero — and gunge — flows freely. Bursting with edifying energy it includes the show's trademark games, and The Wobblies, LOL and Family Health Diarrhoea. Australian Idol Stan Walker is the star guest and sings 'Loud' with Camilla the chimp, and NowTube visits an 80s What Now? (Steve Parr, Frank Flash et al). Tu meke tamariki!
The opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television travels from an opening night puppet show in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ On Air, Sky and Māori Television). Many of the major players are interviewed. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within the story.
This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the first season of New Zealand's version of Dancing with the Stars, ex All Black Norm Hewitt was pitted against actor Shane Cortese in the 2005 final. The live ballroom dance TV One competition paired professional dancers with celebrities like Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt, politician Georgina Beyer, and model Nicky Watson. In this excerpt, Cortese and Nerida Lister win over the judges with their rumba routine. The pair went on to marry and have three children. Nearly a million people tuned in to watch the finale, which Hewitt and Carol-Ann Hickmore won.
Popular comedian Mike King tried his hand at a Letterman-style talk show with this relatively short-lived TV2 series. In this final episode King’s guests are TV personality Jason Gunn, McLeod's Daughters actor Lisa Chappell, kickboxer Ray Sefo, and Australian comedy writer Santo Cilauro, who talks about working with the late Bruno Lawrence on TV series Frontline. One-time Commodores bassist Ronald LaPread leads the eight-piece house band.
This TV2 promo is a cover of Sonny and Cher classic ‘I Got You Babe’. A roll call of turn of the century Kiwi celebrities take turns performing, starting with late actor Kevin Smith and actor/sometime Strawpeople singer Stephanie Tauevihi. Other stars include Jay Laga’aia, Havoc and Newsboy, Erika Takacs from band True Bliss, What Now? hosts, Shortland Street's Katrina Devine, and Spike the penguin from Squirt. Also popping by are Bart and Lisa from The Simpsons, and Aussie Portia de Rossi (then appearing on American show Ally McBeal). The promo was made by Saatchi & Saatchi.
Hosted by Jason Gunn, this popular late 90s teen talent quest became a pop culture marker for young Kiwis of the era. In this 1999 grand final at Te Papa’s marae, judges King Kapisi and Stacey Daniels assess the year's finalists. They include 11-year-old Hayley Westenra performing ‘The Mists of Islay’, which Westenra would later record after finding global fame as a classical crossover singer. The international guest is another young prodigy: violinist Vanessa Mae. Future Sticky TV/C4 presenter Drew Neemia was one of the members of house troupe The Super Troopers.
Hosted by Jason Gunn, McDonalds Young Entertainers was a popular late 90s talent quest for teenagers. A house troupe of singers and dancers (Super Troopers, a Kiwi take on Disney's Mickey Mouse Club) helped the contestants prepare for the judges, and opened and closed each show. Judges included King Kapisi, Tina Cross and Stacey Morrison. Young performers who featured included Ainslie Allen, Hayley Westenra, Sticky TV/C4 host Drew Neemia, actor Michelle Ang (Neighbours, Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462) and concert pianist John Chen.
Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.
The moment Thingee's eye popped out has become a legendary event in Kiwi television history, as an unflappable Jason Gunn continues hosting duties, despite his co-presenter being in a spot of bother. The ocular incident occurred during filming of The Son of a Gunn Show. Although some swear they saw it happen live, the moment did not go to air until weeks after the event — on a nighttime bloopers show. Thingee debuted on After School and appeared in several children's shows, including What Now?. He retired from New Zealand television after returning to his home planet.
Jason Gunn and sidekick Thingee present a Christmas Day special as only they can. Guests include Wonder Dogs host Mark Leishman, singers Debbie Harwood and Kim Willoughby and All Black Va’aiga “Inga the Winger” Tuigamala. The fate of Christmas dinner hangs in the balance as guests and audience members take part in competitions that include an unfortunate way to make eggnog. Some bizarre presents are exchanged and there’s a cameo for Gunn's Mum. Jason also manages a Paul Holmes impression (along with some Frank Spencer and a dash of Rik Mayall).
The Son of a Gunn Show was a popular 90s after school links show for kids. It was hosted by the irrepressible Jason Gunn, who wrangled proceedings with the help of alien puppet sidekick Thingee. The energetic show took in everything from song and dance numbers, and educational segments, to spoofs and impressions (often Frank Spencer) as Gunn et al played in loco parentis to a generation of Kiwi kids. Guests included sports and show business celebrities of the day. The show ended when TVNZ moved their children’s production from Christchurch to Wellington.
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.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Live to air on weekend mornings since 1981, it is a Kiwi kids' TV institution. This Christmas Special sees presenters Simon Barnett, Jason 'The Ace' Gunn, and Cath McPherson larking it up with guests (Cath's Scottish Uncle Bob, Constable Keith and Sniff the Dog, The Wizard of Christchurch, the NZ 'Young Guns' cricket team) and in oddball summer and Christmas tales. Eddie and Fifi do decorative DIY. Check out the stone-wash denim and Barnett's frosted tips and lycra shorts.
Wheel of Fortune is a game show that involves the solving of Hangman-style posers. Contestants spin the wheel to accrue prizes, guess letters that may be in the answer, and earn the right to roll again. The Kiwi edition was hosted by Phillip Leishman and Lana Coc-Kroft (with Simon Barnett later replacing Leishman). In a 1992 celebrity episode, Barcelona Olympic bronze medalist boxer (and future World Heavyweight challenger) David Tua, infamously requested the letter O, “for Awesome”. The show returned briefly in 2008 hosted by Jason Gunn and Sonia Gray.
These clips collect together excerpts from kid's TV icon Thingee's appearances on After School. Thingee, alongside hosts Jason Gunn and Annie Roache, engages in much loopy fun factual madness: he gets into the Christmas spirit with carol singing, discusses his ambitions to be a jet pilot so he can time travel to meet his Mum (courtesy of trans-Atlantic time difference); plans to take over Video Dispatch (as Thingee Dispatch); talks like a pirate, eats worms, burps and wets himself. Check out Gunn's over-sized sunglasses and trademark loud 80s shirts.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Filmed before a live studio audience on weekend mornings, What Now? is a New Zealand TV institution; it was the first TV show to have live phone-ins. The series is known for its challenges that sometimes result in participants being 'gunged'. A roll-call of presenters includes Steve Parr, Danny Watson, Simon Barnett, Jason Gunn, Michelle A'Court, Tamati Coffey, Antonia Prebble, and more. 'Get out of your Lazy Bed' by Matt Bianco is the theme song memorable to generations of Kiwi kids.