Sometimes referred to as the Godfather of New Zealand music TV, Kevan Moore was behind some of the iconic entertainment shows (Let's Go, C'mon) of the 1960s and 70s. Joining television at its birth, Moore was also responsible for shaping early current affairs content (eg Town and Around), and devising popular astronomy show The Night Sky.
All of us who are still at it are still benefitting from the shows Kevan made 40 years ago. Ray Woolf, singer/actor
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.
It's Academic was an 80s general knowledge quiz show for high school students. Like its intermediate school sibling The W Three Show (aka W3), It's Academic was hosted by Lockwood Smith. With his Cheshire cat's grin the future Speaker of the House pulls questions from the numbered pockets, as teams from Onslow, Wellington and Newlands colleges — seated in the distinctive triangular pod set — compete in the Wellington regional final. At stake are brainiac bragging rights, school pride ... and digital watches, Britannica encyclopedias and handheld calculators.
Mortimer’s Patch was a popular drama series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) at work in the town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots; Don Selwyn is Sergeant Bob Storey. The series was NZ’s first police drama, and a rare local drama to top ratings. Mortimer's Patch was made when the archetype of the ‘community cop’ everyone knew was still a powerful one, and it was a counterweight to the faceless riot policing of the Springbok Tour. Three series were made.
This 1978 documentary casts a critical eye over a depressed NZ music industry, and asks what has changed since its 60s glory days of pop stars, screaming fans and C’mon. By the late 70s, few musicians are earning a living and chart hits have dwindled (although the recording industry is bullish). Ray Columbus waxes lyrical about ‘She’s a Mod’. Kevan Moore and Peter Sinclair are sanguine about TV’s role, a finger is pointed at radio airplay, and the careers of Craig Scott, Mark Williams, Sharon O’Neill and John Rowles are considered. The only thing not in short supply is blame.
Sing featured Kiwi entertainers performing popular songs and musical standards, accompanied by a bevy of dancers. The performers included Craig Scott, Ray Woolf, Angela Ayers, Chic Littlewood and musical comic relief Laurie Dee. The hair was big and the collars large, while songs tended towards the middle of the road — for example 'Love is All Around', Tom Jones and Glen Campbell.
New Zealand politics was a gentler art in the pre-Muldoon early 1970s, when superstar English TV interviewer David Frost made the first of two series downunder. Here he talks to Prime Minister Norman Kirk, and opposition leader Jack Marshall. Kirk is assured and statesmanlike (an act that proves hard for Marshall to follow) as he discusses topics ranging from supporting beneficiaries, to opposing French nuclear testing. ‘Big Norm’ purposefully talks about being in the job for another 25 years. Tragically, he died in office 13 months later.
Star English interviewer David Frost was international television royalty when he jetted into New Zealand in 1973 to host a series of six hour long shows which were produced by Des Monaghan and directed by Kevan Moore (the longest duration he’d worked on). In the NZBC’s most ambitious undertaking up until then, the six episodes were recorded in just four days. The series began with political leaders — Prime Minister Norman Kirk and Leader of the Opposition Jack Marshall. The other subjects were abortion, obesity, champion athletes, marriage and children.
Years before it became a national health crisis, star UK broadcaster David Frost hosted this audience discussion on NZ’s “battle of the bulge”. And far from his later interrogation of Nixon, Frost’s form here is loose and relaxed. Analysis makes way for his wry examinations of such du jour weight-loss products as portable saunas, laxative pills, “Easy-Slim” underwear, and the Slendermatic: a muscle vibration unit modelled by a bikini-clad lass reclining on a sheepskin rug. This was one of six Frost Over New Zealand specials filmed over a whirlwind four-day shoot.
‘Rain and Tears’ was inspired by a reworking of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’ by Greek prog rockers Aphrodite’s Child (featuring Vangelis and Demis Roussos). Auckland band The Hi-Revving Tongues had their biggest hit with their version, which topped the New Zealand singles chart in 1969. This footage is from the Loxene Golden Disc contest, where they won the group award, and were nominated for best song. It’s a restrained performance which gives little hint of the band’s more psychedelic sound — or their enthusiasm for onstage pyrotechnics.
This is the final episode in the first series of New Zealand's classic 60s pop show. Host Peter Sinclair seems to have no idea that the show will return for another two years. Meanwhile Mr Lee Grant, Sandy Edmonds, Herma Keil, Bobby Davis, Tommy Adderley, a rocking Ray Woolf and the Chicks run through the big hits of 1967, managing to compress 21 songs into a frenetic half hour. Sinclair promises "big sounds, fun sounds, wild sounds" as the show ranges from blues-rock through ballads and 'Edelweiss', to a nod to the children watching with 'Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead'.
The NZBC's premier 60s music show was the ultimate pop confection, complete with hip presenter Peter Sinclair, hyperactive go-go dancers, pop art set and breathless pace. In one of two surviving episodes, regulars Mr Lee Grant, Herma Keil and Billy Karaitiana cover the hits of the day, with help from guests The Gremlins (previewing the psychedelic pop of their song 'Blast Off 1970'), 50s rock'n'roll pioneer Bob Paris, and "southern songbird" Bronwyn Neil. The show is rounded out with a medley of nostalgia favourites — including a cameo from Sinclair.
C’mon brought the hits of the day into New Zealand living rooms for three years in a tightly scripted, black and white frenzy of special effects, pop art sets, go-go girls and choreographed musicians while host Pete Sinclair kept the pace cracking with breathless hipster charm. Most of the stars of the day appeared at one time or another but sadly only two episodes have survived. As the 60s finished C’mon fell victim to the fragmenting of the music world and the arrival of darker music that the show could no longer turn into family friendly viewing.
Taken from hit music show C’mon, this short clip has Mr Lee Grant performing his first number one hit ‘Opportunity’. After leaping to attention — and suffering an awkward landing — he recovers quickly to offer a jaunty performance on a psychedelic set, complete with American flag motif. The song (a cover version) charted in May 1967, helping cement Mr Lee Grant’s position as one of the country's premier pop stars. He would top the local charts twice more — and come close another time — before leaving New Zealand in March 1968, in an attempt to conquer the United Kingdom.
Thanks to You topped the New Zealand music charts three weeks after its release in 1967, and earned Mr Lee Grant the Loxene Golden Disc Award. In this performance on C’mon, introduced by the legendary Peter Sinclair, he performs the hit in a distinctive three piece suit against a changing psychedelic backdrop. Mr Lee Grant’s Kiwi tour was split between shows for his sometimes hysterical teenage fans, and cabaret shows for the adults. The combination made him one of the country’s most popular acts, and saw him named 1967’s Entertainer of the Year at the NEBOA awards.
Town and Around was a nightly magazine show, covering everything from current affairs and studio interviews to slapstick to stunts; including a notorious spoof on a farmer who shod his turkeys in gumboots. A popular and wide-ranging regional series, it ran for five years from 1965, and was the training ground for a generation of industry professionals (Brian Edwards, David McPhail, and Des Monaghan amongst many others). Town and Around was made prior to a national network link, and editions came out of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
In the heady days of Beatlemania, Let's Go was the first viable successor to In The Groove (NZ's first TV pop music show in 1962). It was devised and produced by Kevan Moore — with DJ Peter Sinclair in his first big presenting role. Recorded in Wellington at the NZBC's Waring Taylor Street studio (with its notorious sloping floor a challenge for the big cameras), it featured a resident band — first The Librettos and then the Pleasers. Let's Go only lasted two years, but in 1967 Moore and Sinclair teamed up again for the hugely successful C'mon.
New Zealand TV and the space race grew up hand in hand. For 11 years, self-taught astronomer and enthusiast Peter Read explained each new development and talked about what could be seen in the heavens on his monthly show Night Sky. A commercial artist by training, Read painted the set’s early backdrops. He made several trips to the USA to witness launches, interviewed visiting astronauts and, with models in hand, broadcast live on the night of the first moon landing. When it was cancelled in 1974, Night Sky was the country’s longest running show.