Actor, Presenter, Director
Since debuting on TV's SportsCafe in 1996 as an Olympic snail trainer, comedian Leigh Hart has donned moustaches, speedos and a variety of serious journalistic expressions. Post SportsCafe, Hart made and presented multiple seasons of Moon TV — two of them nominated for NZ Screen awards — plus Leigh Hart's Mysterious Planet. He went on to co-present web show Late Night Big Breakfast, with Jason Hoyte.
The biggest challenge has probably been certain key bits of furniture getting sold from under us mid-show. The show is filmed in a Target furniture store. It's hard to keep continuity and is confusing for the guests. Leigh Hart on making talk show Late Night Big Breakfast in a furniture store, in a July 2014 Stuff interview
Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan.
As the trailer makes clear, this award-winning animated short film has a key ingredient for a pulp movie: cardboard. It also features car chases, explosions and a fire brigade fighting to save Cardboard City (including The Beehive and Sky Tower). Director Phil Brough collaborated on the script with fellow Back of the Y alumnus Matt Heath. Leigh Hart and Jeremy Wells are among the voices in the film, which was six years in the making. Fire in Cardboard City was selected for the 2018 Berlin and Tribeca film festivals, and won Best New Zealand Film at the 2017 Show Me Shorts Film Festival.
In the first feature film from high-flying creative collective The Downlow Concept (7 Days, Hounds), the company's longtime 'muse' Joss Thomson plays a struggling real estate agent who becomes the chief of his family's sinking Pacific Island — while simultaneously striving to offer his girlfriend Chloe (American actor Megan Stevenson) her dream wedding. Shot largely in Raratonga, the film also features Dave Fane and Matt Whelan (Go Girls). The trailer promises male corsets and fat jokes, plus plenty of deadpan downlowconcept mayhem.
Using interviews, reenactments and archive images, each episode of Screentime series Descent from Disaster examines a major New Zealand disaster — what happened, and what was learnt. Presenters were chosen for their connection to each topic. Sailor Andrew Fagan outlines the 1894 wreck of the SS Wairarapa off Great Barrier Island; weatherman and pilot Jim Hickey looks at a 1948 Ruapehu plane crash; Leigh Hart asks his miner father about the 1967 explosion at the Strongman mine. The first season of seven episodes screened in 2013. Another six followed in 2015.
On 19 January 1967, an explosion rocked the Strongman coal mine on the West Coast, causing the deaths of 19 miners. This documentary, part of a series investigating NZ disasters, sees TV personality Leigh Hart examining what happened that day in Rūnanga, and how it affected the community. Interviewees include Hart’s own family: his Dad, who was in the mine at the time, his mother, and his Uncle Terry, who was part of the rescue team. This two-minute excerpt includes a reenactment of the disaster, and Leigh examining the outside of the old mine.
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.
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.
Rolling out their Christmas Special in June, to show just how far they're ahead of the game, the Moon TV team threw most of their regulars into this wrap-up special: dodgy driving on Speedo Cops, Naan Doctors (a soap set in an Indian restaurant) and Leigh Hart's regular attempt to sound literary with writer Joe Bennett. Elsewhere Hart and Matai Johnson cheat during the annual coast to coast race, and join Jason Hoyte to demonstrate how not to treat a guest when John Key joins them on Late Night Big Breakfast. Plus pratfalls from an incompetent handyman.
For their fourth series, the intrepid Moon TV crew set out to tour New Zealand in mobile broadcast vans. The backbone of this episode is a roadside interview with All Black Richie McCaw, who takes in stride a dodgy satellite dish and questions from a viewer about swallowing the contents of a lava lamp. Elsewhere there are appearances by show regulars Hamsterman (who does a strange dance) and Speedo Cops (dealing to a dangerous runaway trolley) — plus a Dragon's Den take-off, in which a potential financier is impressed by a vacuum cleaner refitted to make coffee.
This long-running, hour-long Māori Television sports show saw presenters and sports stars korero in front of a studio audience. The show won a cult audience thanks to its easy-going style, mixing studio action (music, demonstrations) with light-hearted field shoots (eg Brofessionals). Catchphrase "Mean Māori Mean" entered the culture. Ringleaders included Jenny-May Clarkson (née Coffin), Wairangi Koopu, and Liam Meesam, and superstars like Sonny Bill Williams relaxed on the Code couch. The show won Best Sports Programme at the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards.
This long-running chat show gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with playful pratfalls. Regulars in the circus wrangled by producer Ric Salizzo included larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis, straight girl Lana Coc-Kroft, 'That Guy' Leigh Hart, and Graeme Hill. This 23 November 2005 final features plenty of sporting guest stars and ‘best of’ moments: from World Nude Day to a litany of laddish moments from Ellis. Rumours of presenter intoxication would only have been stirred by the mayhem of the closing set destruction, accompanied by band The Exponents.
Debuting in 2002, Moon TV parodied talk shows, soaps and almost every type of reality television, occasionally leaving viewers wondering if they were watching truth or take off. Created by Leigh Hart — aka That Guy on SportsCafe — it mixed written and improvised material, roadtesting sketches which later spawned their own series, including talk show Late Night Big Breakfast and Leigh Hart's Mysterious Planet. Nominated twice for Best Comedy Programme, Moon TV 's sketches included a regular book slot featuring writer Joe Bennett, a medical spoof and Hamsterman from Amsterdam.
Popular Greenstone series The Zoo aired for over a decade. The show went behind the bars at Auckland Zoo to meet monkeys, rhinos, kiwi, humans, and more. A family-friendly hit, initially for TV2, it sold widely overseas. The show spawned a number of spin-offs and best of DVDs, including two Zoo Babies specials, Trent's Wild Cat Adventures — plus Two by Two at the Zoo (2005) and The Zoo: This is Your Life (2011), which each featured one animal per episode. The Zoo won the viewers' vote for Favourite Documentary Series at the TV Guide Awards, seven years running.
Producer Ric Salizzo followed a series of All Black tour videos with this popular long-running live show. The Sky Sport (later TV2) series featured interviews and skits, and gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls (and tension between larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis and co-host Lana Coc-Kroft). Other members of the circus that Salizzo tried to wrangle included That Guy (Leigh Hart), Eva the Bulgarian (Eva Evguenieva), Graeme Hill, and the Human Canonball (Ben Hickey). The show made a brief comeback in 2008.
Popular consumer affairs show Fair Go is one of New Zealand TV's longest-running series. It began in 1977, devised by Brian Edwards and producer Peter Morritt. The TVNZ programme mixes investigative reporting (daring to "name names" and expose rip-off merchants everywhere) with light-hearted segments. Its roster of presenters has included Edwards, Judith Fyfe, Hugo Manson, Philip Alpers, Kerre McIvor (nee Woodham), Carol Hirschfeld, Gordon Harcourt, and longest serving host, Kevin Milne. A perennial favourite segment is the round-up of the year's ad campaigns.