Trained at Ilam School of Fine Arts, John McDonald cut his teeth directing at TVNZ in the 80s before producing sport for Sky TV. An OE producing at MTV Asia was followed by roles for Screentime. Since joining Mediaworks (TV3) in 2000, he has led an award-winning run of live coverage (Fight for Life, Rugby World Cup, the NZ Music Awards) and comedy. He is Head of In-House Production at Mediaworks.

On shows such as The X Factor and Dancing with the Stars, it pays to expect the unexpected. Something surprising almost always happens, and how you respond to it either improves or diminishes the broadcast outcome. John McDonald, on the challenges of producing live event television

Funny Girls - NZ Suffragette Special

2018, Executive Producer - Television

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shows off her comedy prowess in this Funny Girls special, celebrating 125 years of Kiwi women attaining the right to vote. Ardern corrects the blatant lies of "Pauline the producer" (Jackie van Beek), and puts up with Pauline kissing her. This episode is a who's who of female Kiwi comedians, featuring (for the first time) live stand-up alongside the sketches — including Justine Smith and Billy T winners Melanie Bracewell and Angella Dravid. The Suffragette Special followed series three. 

Slice of Paradise

2017, Executive Producer - Television

Lucy Lewis Can't Lose - Series Two

2017, Executive Producer - Web

Fresh from embarrassing the principal (Miranda Harcourt) on national television in season one of web series Lucy Lewis Can't Lose, Lucy Lewis (Thomasin McKenzie) discovers the school has gone Instagram crazy in series two. With her peers hooked on finding out who is labelled best and worst dressed, the fashion apathetic Lucy takes it upon herself to rid the school of this new cyberbullying…with some unintended results. When the whole school turns on her, Lucy's mates Ruby (Celia MacDonald) and Dave (Rāhiri Wharerau) help with a grand plan to set things right.

Family Feud

2016, Executive Producer - Television

Lucy Lewis Can't Lose - Series One

2016, Executive Producer - Web

After being elected school representative against the odds — and certainly against her will — Lucy Lewis (Thomasin Mckenzie) must find a way to rid herself of the responsibility. Then she discovers an evil scheme by the principal (played by McKenzie’s real life mother Miranda Harcourt) to rake in cash at the students’ expense. Suddenly Lucy's new position provides an opportunity to foil the plot… if she can keep it. But winning over her peers could be tricky. McKenzie went on to co-star in American feature Leave No Trace, and act in Taika Waititi movie Jojo Rabbit.  

Ewen Gilmour: Westie Legend

2015, Executive Producer - Television

AotearoHA

2015, Executive Producer - Television

7 Days - 200th Episode

2015, Executive Producer - Television

It's Friday 4th December, 2015 and panel series 7 Days is celebrating its 200th episode with a live audience at the Auckland Town Hall. Everyone is up for a party, and nothing says 'party' more than guest Tim Shadbolt jumping out of a giant cardboard cake. The recipe is the same, but longer: two teams of comedians lead by regulars Paul Ego and Dai Henwood compete for wildly erratic points, but for this episode 7 Days becomes 7 Years, as the panel riff off news stories dating from 2009 when their first episode aired, through to 2015. Jon Toogood and choir Viva Voce guest star.

Dancing with the Stars - Simon Barnett excerpt (Series Six Final)

2015, Executive Producer - Television

In this excerpt from the 2015 final of reality show Dancing with the Stars, broadcaster and former What Now? host Simon Barnett brings drama and excellent cape work to his paso doble with partner Vanessa Cole. The routine won a perfect score from judges Candy Lane, Stefano Olivieri and Hayley Holt, and sealed the series win for the couple. In true showbiz style it was no easy road for Barnett; early negative feedback and a nasty knee injury stalled his progress, but combining 80s anthem 'Eye of the Tiger' with Cole's sharp choreography proved a winning strategy. 

After Hours

2014 - 2015, Executive Producer - Television

Cadbury Dream Factory

2014, Executive Producer - Television

The X Factor New Zealand

2013 - 2015, Executive Producer - Television

Jono and Ben at Ten

2012 - 2014, Executive Producer - Television

The Ridges

2012, Executive Producer - Television

Reality series The Ridges follows the lives of socialite and interior designer Sally Ridge and her daughter Jaime. Sally and 19-year-old Jaime face the challenge of moving into and renovating a rundown 13 bedroom Auckland villa. Meanwhile Jaime trains hard for a charity boxing match with another reality TV personality, Rosanna Arkle from The GC. The six-part series ran on TV3 for one season. The first episode features the much remembered moment where Sally and Jaime encountered a mouse. Jaime was the only one of her three siblings to feature in the show.

Jono and Ben

2012 - 2018, Executive Producer - Television

In 2012 television pranksters and funny boys Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce remixed the best elements of their popular shows Pulp Sport and The Jono Project, to concoct Jono and Ben at Ten. Three's satirical news and entertainment series ran for seven seasons. Comedians Guy Williams, Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel also featured. The series began life on a Friday night at 10pm, before moving to a Thursday 7:30pm slot in 2015 (when the title was shortened to Jono and Ben). Despite a fan petition to 'uncancel', the last episode aired on 15 November 2018.

Jono and Ben at Ten - First Episode

2012, Executive Producer - Television

Combining sketches, pranks and parodies, Jono and Ben at Ten quickly gained popularity after it hit the airwaves in 2012. Critics praised the Jono Pryor (The Jono Project) and Ben Boyce (Pulp Sport) hosted series as one of the top shows that year. In this first episode, Pryor and Boyce hold their own Olympic Games, prank clothing store customers and get child versions of themselves to ask celebrities the hard questions. Meanwhile, comedian Guy Williams sings goodbye to rugby player Sonny Bill Williams at a press conference. The TV3 series was renamed Jono and Ben in 2015. 

The Ridges - First Episode

2012 - 2012, Executive Producer - Television

Interior designer and socialite Sally Ridge opened up her home — and life — to television cameras for this TV3 reality series. Episode one opens with Ridge and 19-year-old daughter Jaime moving from their plush home into a huge, rundown villa. Sally and self-confessed "clean freak" Jaime leap onto chairs after they discover a plump mouse running around their new kitchen. Sally bemoans having to rip up carpet on her own and deal with a huge renovation project. None of Sally's three other children — two to Adam Parore, and one to Matthew Ridge — appear in the series. 

V8 Supercars Hamilton 400

2010, Executive Producer - Television

7 Days

2009 - ongoing, Executive Producer - Television

Since debuting in 2009, award-winning panel series 7 Days has introduced a range of Kiwi comedy talents to television audiences. Three's show takes an irreverent look at the past week in the news, with regular segments like “my kid could draw that” and “what’s the taxi driver talking about”. Jeremy Corbett hosts; the two teams of regular and guest comedians have included Paul Ego, Dai Henwood, Ben Hurley and Urzila Carlson. The show echoes the format of Britain's long-running Mock the Week. Corbett has described 7 Days as the comedy show he's always wanted to make.

New Zealand's Next Top Model

2009 - 2011, Executive Producer - Television

Rugby World Cup 2007 (TV3)

2007, Producer - Television

McDonald’s Cirque Rocks

2006, Producer - Television

Snatch our Booty

2005, Executive Producer - Television

Dancing with the Stars

2015, 2018, Executive Producer - Television

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.

McDonald’s Circus X

2004, Producer - Television

Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards

2004 - ongoing, Executive Producer - Television

Sportzah

2003 - 2004, Executive Producer - Television

Comedy Gala

2012, Director - Television

Fight For Life

2001 - 2003, Producer - Television

Smokefree Rockquest 1999

1999, Producer - Television

Rockquest

1998, Director - Television

Christmas in the Park

2001 - 2013, Producer - Television

5.30 with Jude

1997 - 2000, Producer - Television

World of Wearable Art Awards

2003 - 2007, Producer - Television

Live and Loud

1994 - 1997, Executive Producer - Television

Land of Our Own

1990, Writer, Co-Producer - Television

The Opening Shot

1990, Producer - Television

Perigo

1990, Director - Television

MTV Unplugged

1994 - 1997, Executive Producer - Television

Sign of the Times - Herbs and The Eagles

1989, Director - Television

Danny's Cafe

1988, Director - Television

Fast Forward

1988 -1989, Director - Television

This Christchurch-based TVNZ science and technology show put science in primetime in the 1980s (notably on Friday nights before Coronation Street). The successor to Science Express, it sought to explain how science was changing everyday NZ life; and reporters (including Jim Hopkins, Liz Grant, Peter Llewellyn and Julie Colquhoun) attempted to engage the public without alienating the scientific community, and vice versa. Its run ended in 1989 when TVNZ decided it couldn't compete with the runaway success of Australian counterpart Beyond 2000.

The Neglected Miracle

1985, Assistant Editor - Film

Smash Palace

1981, Assistant Editor - Film

Smash Palace is a Kiwi cinema classic and launched Roger Donaldson's American career. Al Shaw (a brilliant, brooding Bruno Lawrence) is a racing car driver who now runs a wrecker's yard in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu. His French wife Jacqui is unhappy there and leaves him, taking up with Al's best mate. When she restricts Al's access to his young daughter, his frustration explodes and he goes bush with the girl, desperate not to lose her too. "There's no road back" runs the tagline. New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "amazingly accomplished".