Johnny Barker began acting in musicals at high school. Since then his career has balanced music and drama. After playing a small-town cop in TV's Mercy Peak, he co-starred as one of the heroes of 2003 horror film The Locals. Later Barker rejoined Shortland Street, winning infamy (and a Qantas nomination) after being revealed as the Ferndale Strangler. He co-created and acted in 2014's music-themed series Coverband, and composed for Nia's Extra Ordinary Life. His ex band Jester provided the opening song for teen hit Being Eve. Barker has also directed for Funny Girls, and on a run of successful 48 Hour shorts.
It will follow me around for the rest of my life, and I'm happy with that ... Normally I'm quite lazy and have a big beard and no one bats an eyelid, and as soon as I shave for a project or whatever, when I go to the supermarket, people always spot me. It's crazy. People have amazing memories. Johnny Barker on playing the Ferndale Strangler on Shortland Street, The NZ Herald, 27 May 2013
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.
Actors Tane Williams-Accra and Ngahuia Piripi joined Shortland Street in 2015, as ambulance driver Ali Karim and Nurse Esther Samuels. Here they introduce their favourite Shortie storyline: the one involving Ferndale Strangler Joey Henderson (Johnny Barker). Cut from a longer clip which is viewable on NZ On Screen, the finale has the formerly sympathetic nurse and recently discovered serial killer escaping to the rooftop, where he is tackled by flatmate Kieran Mitchell (Adam Rickitt). When the police show up and make Kieran let go, Joey takes fate into his own hands.
Comedians Rose Matafeo and Laura Daniel created and starred in this part sketch comedy, part sitcom. Funny Girls sees Daniels and Matafeo producing sketches for a fictional comedy series, and dealing with incompetent male bosses and a clueless producer (Breaker Upperer Jackie van Beek). In 2016 the TV3 series won attention when Comedy Central was accused of copying a season two skit about a board game for girls. The mainly female cast includes Kimberley Crossman, Brynley Stent and Alice Snedden. Madeleine Sami made her TV directorial debut in season two.
A lack of roles for Asian women inspired three Chinese-Kiwi actors to create a comedy web series starring themselves. JJ Fong, Perlina Lau and Ally Xue play flatmates in Flat3. Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets) directs and writes. In this third season, Perlina is pursued by two ex-boyfriends, "slutty" Jessica struggles to stay on a "no guys diet", while reserved Lee gets swept up by nude model Dan (Dan Cowley). Madeleine Sami (The Breaker Upperers) features as an arrogant acting teacher, while Shavaughn Ruakere (Shortland Street) is a pushy saleswoman.
New Zealand's first web series for children follows the adventures of a 10 year-old girl for whom the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Nia (Shania Gilmour) lives in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai; in this first episode she introduces herself, her friend Hazel, and her highly active imagination, which is soon teaching a bully a lesson — thanks to help from a boxing glove, and her pet taniwha George. From the folks behind Auckland Daze (Kiel McNaughton and Kerry Warkia), Nia's Extra Ordinary Life also screened on Māori Television.
Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life follows the adventures of Nia, a 10 year-old girl living in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai. There the ordinary becomes extra ordinary thanks to the power of her imagination — brought to life partly via onscreen animation. In this second episode Nia (Shania Gilmour) gets over leftover mussels and tomato sauce in her school lunch (yuck!) and missing her Mum, by building a sandcastle. The tide is getting closer, but no matter...Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life marked Aotearoa’s first web series for children.
Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life follows the adventures of Nia, a 10 year-old girl living in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai. “Nothing exciting ever happens here …” begins Nia, but the ordinary becomes extraordinary via the power of her imagination. In this third episode Nia (Shania Gilmour) and Hazel meet Lucas "curled up like a ball" on the beach after a turtle-related incident. They go looking for the escaped turtle, and encounter a crab. Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life was New Zealand's first web series for children.
In this fourth episode of Nia's Extra Ordinary Life, 10-year-old Nia (Shania Gilmour) spots some teasing going on and calls out the bully police, complete with helicopters.... Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life was Aotearoa’s first web series for children. It also screened on Māori Television. Each tale of a girl living in a Northland seaside town used animation to help bring her imaginings to life. The series was co-written by actor turned producer Kerry Warkia.
Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life follows the adventures of Nia, a 10 year-old girl living in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai. This fifth episode follows the play by play at cricket practice, where one of the team is day-dreaming, another bats like a superhero, and a third is humiliated by her mother, who also happens to be the coach. Talk about being made to feel small...Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life was Aotearoa’s first web series for children.
Nia (Shania Gilmour) is an ordinary 10 year old girl living in the quiet Northland town of Tinopai. In this sixth episode, Nia’s dreams of winning the local art competition are interrupted when the local boys show up in a teasing mood, and do their best to ruin her day. It all makes Nia wonder why boys seem to act worse when they hang out in a group. Made by the team behind hit web series Auckland Daze, Nia's Extra Ordinary Life marked New Zealand’s first web series for children.
Nia's Extra Ordinary Life is partly a tribute to the power of children's imaginations, which are brought to the screen thanks to the magic of animation. In the seventh episode, Nia and her friends enjoy a day out on safari, where they fancy glimpses of an African rhino, a giraffe, and an unhelpful camel. Their imaginations also afford them a quick trip to Ireland, before heading home for kai in the sun. Made by the team behind Auckland Daze, Nia's Extra Ordinary Life marked New Zealand’s first web series for children.
In this episode, Nia (Shania Gilmour) spends a day in the sun with her friend Hazel (Jessica Woollam). As the girls' imaginations and the show's distinctive animation run wild, the pair have adventures in New York, Sydney and Paris, and star in their own explosive action movie. But things turn cloudy when Hazel reluctantly reveals that she has to move back to Australia, leaving Nia to deal with the thought of losing her best friend. Nia's Extra Ordinary Life uses a diary format to help take us inside Nia's head.
Nia is an ordinary girl living in the Northland town of Tinopai. In this ninth episode, a trip to the wharf to help her Dad with some fishing provides a chance for Nia to think about how she'll feel when her best friend Hazel leaves. An imagined stay on a desert island (with a penguin for company) is interrupted when the boys turn up, seemingly up to their usual mischief. Nia's Extra Ordinary Life was made by the team behind Auckland Daze; they began filming a second series in 2015.
In this tenth episode of Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life, things turn from good to bad in the town of Tinopai. Nia has finished her entry for the local art competition, a beautiful painted diorama of Tinopai, and takes it to show her friend Hazel. Thoughts of fame after winning the art competition inspire references to X-Factor and Lorde. Before Nia can get to Hazel’s however, an incident involving Isabella at the petrol station literally turns things upside down. A second series of Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life was made in 2015.
In this second to last episode of season one, Nia (Shania Gilmour) is caught up in drama. Soon to farewell her best friend Hazel, she imagines dropping an elephant on Isabella but changes her mind after Isabella apologises. Feeling happier, Nia gets all her friends working together late into the night, as they set about creating a mysterious mural. Nia's Extra Ordinary Life was the first New Zealand web series aimed specially at children. A second series went into production in 2015.
In the final episode of Nia's first series of extraordinary adventures, Nia and Hazel share breakfast and a cup of tea at Buckingham Palace, before setting off for Hazel's last day at Tinopai School. When they get there, Nia has two surprises for the friend she is about to farewell. Aimed at viewers aged six to 10, Nia's Extra Ordinary Life uses animation to help bring Nia's thoughts and imagination alive. After the success of their first 12 episode season, creators Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton began making a second in 2015.
Tired of being portrayed as "the shy one, the dragon lady or the prostitute", three Chinese-Kiwi female actors turned the tables and starred in their own web series. JJ Fong, Perlina Lau and Ally Xue teamed with director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding And Other Secrets) to create flatmates comedy Flat3. It began in 2013 on the smell of an oily rag. A Kickstarter campaign raised $10,000 for the second season, then NZ On Air put $100,000 into the third. Guests included Rose Matafeo and Madeleine Sami. Flat3's three stars (and Liang) returned for 2016's Friday Night Bites.
Emily Chu (award-winner Michelle Ang) is a young ‘banana’ (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) hoping to conceal a cross-cultural romance from her prudish Chinese parents in this romantic dramedy. Director Roseanne Liang’s feature debut draws on her autobiographical ‘video diary’ Banana in a Nutshell, which screened at the 2005 NZ International Film Festival. In the audience was producer John Barnett, who immediately offered to fund an adaptation. On its March 2010 release My Wedding gained several five star reviews, and strong box office.
Rachel Lang and Gavin Strawhan created Go Girls out of a desire for an upbeat show about "people who liked each other". Audiences liked the characters too: the show ran five seasons, after introducing us to a group of 20-something friends, each aiming to make a major life-change in the next year. Over five series various romantic adventures ensued, and the core cast of Anna Hutchison, Alix Bushnell, Bronwyn Turei, Jay Ryan and Matt Whelan were joined by others — before finally departing altogether, with one final season revolving around a new cast of wanna bes.
Trapped in a storage locker, shorn of her appendix, nurse Alice Piper (Toni Potter) turns the tables on her captor: psycho Joey Henderson (Johnny Barker). When Doctor Craig Valentine encounters Henderson, he finds himself caught between anger and duty. Finally marking the end of the Ferndale Strangler's reign, this March 2008 Shortland Street episode climaxed an eight-month long plotline which saw five members of the cast falling victim. Earlier three leaked videos each revealed a different killer (none of them Joey), upping the suspense as to the strangler's real identity.
In this first episode of the six part comedy drama, a suburban Mum (Jodie Dorday from movie Via Satellite) reaches the end of her tether with her washed-up rock singer husband Brian (Shane Cortese), and he comes to the end of his life — atop a broken bong. After her three closest friends convince her she’ll face a murder rap, Jodie makes a fateful decision to dispose of the body. The show marked a move into drama for reality TV supremos Eyeworks Touchdown. "Think Sex and the City meets Desperate Housewives in an Outrageous Fortune kind of way." wrote Listener critic Diana Wichtel.
Created by superhero fan Stephen J Campbell, this light-hearted adventure series follows teen Ben Wilson (Carl Dixon) who discovers his father and grandad have done time as superheroes. Still getting to grips with the basics of being one himself, Ben enlists family and friends to help fight assorted villians. The show ran for three seasons, and spawned web series The Wired Chronicles and Origins. Nominated for awards in Rome and New Zealand, it picked up one in Korea. The eclectic cast included the tried (David McPhail) and the new (Hannah Marshall from Packed to the Rafters).
In this first feature film from writer/director Greg Page, two urban bloke best friends (Johnny Barker and Dwayne Cameron) take off on a surfing weekend. Their prospects of finding fun go down with the sun. Instead of enjoying surf and black sand, the boys find themselves lost in a rural nightmare, battling an inescapable curse. Page, known for his high energy music videos, wheel-spins city limits phobia into the Waikato heartland for a Kiwi twist on horror genre thrills. Website Horrorview called it "different and inventive enough to stand out from the crowd."
With its mix of quirky characters, lush scenery, and medical drama, Mercy Peak proved to be a winning formula. Produced by John Laing for South Pacific Pictures, and starring a host of NZ acting talent (Tim Balme, Jeffrey Thomas, Renato Bartolomei, et al), Mercy Peak follows the highs and lows of Dr Nicky Somerville (Sara Wiseman), who leaves the big city after discovering her partner’s infidelity. Taking up her new role at the hospital in the tiny town of Bassett, Nicky soon learns that life is full of complexities no matter the population.
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.