At age 17, Melbourne-raised Lisa Crittenden was playing daughter to Ilona Rodgers on Australian soap The Sullivans. In 1992 she shot into Kiwi TV history as hardbitten chief nurse Carrie Burton on Shortland Street, after a memorable line about Guatemala in the soap's first 10 minutes. She sang in spin-off single 'Keeping Up the Love Thing' and acted in Cover Story and short Black Bitch, before returning to Australia.
You're not in Guatemala now Doctor Ropata. The immortal line uttered by Director of Nursing Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) in Shortland Street's debut episode, 25 May 1992
Getting its start thanks to three years of NZ On Air funding, ‘Shorty Street’ has grown to become not only a commercial success, but an important training ground for many actors, writers and crew. Generations have grown up watching storylines and characters they can relate to. In this interview to celebrate NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes the impact of the show, and its importance to New Zealand culture. Actor John 'Lionel Skeggins' Leigh recalls the early days of working on the street, and the many adventures his character faced.
Tala Pasifika was a Pasifika drama series which grew from workshops aimed at upskilling Pasifika screen talents. The first six teleplays debuted on TV One in 1996 as part of magazine show Tagata Pasifika. Two more screened in their own slots in 1999. Instigated by Stephen Stehlin and Pomau Papali'i, Tala Pasifika was the first drama series to showcase Samoan culture. Don Selwyn and Ruth Kaupua were brought on to produce. Among those supporting the workshops or the resulting series were NZ On Air, the NZ Film Commission, Creative NZ and Justine Simei-Barton's Pacific Theatre.
This short film follows the efforts of schoolgirl Nina to recover her red clogs, a cherished birthday gift from her Yugoslavian nana. Nina lost the shoes playing hopscotch at school; she follows muddy footprints to find the thieves, where a playground insult prompts her to question her identity. The story was inspired by first time filmmaker Annalise Patterson's own upbringing, where her family didn't acknowledge either its Māori or 'Dally' heritage. 'Dallies' largely came to New Zealand from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia (formerly a part of Yugoslavia).
This acclaimed Gibson Group series was set behind the scenes on a current affairs programme. Katie Wolfe plays stroppy journalist Amanda Robbins, hired for her tabloid style in a bid to raise the show's ratings. In this excerpt from episode two, a surrogate pregnancy turns into a nasty custody battle. Amanda chases the story, whatever the cost (journalistic ethics included) and acquaints herself with the surrogate. But then her in-house rival Liz (Jennifer Ludlam, who won a TV award for this episode) gets a scoop interview with the parents of the disputed child.
The Katene Sisters were a Shortland Street creation — a vocal group from the past of nurse Jackie Manu (Nancy Brunning), who reformed for a talent quest. The other members were her cousins, but only one (Annie Crummer) appeared, allowing nurse Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) to step in. Though they didn’t win, they were given a brief life outside the show when this song (written by Crummer and ex Holidaymaker Barbara Griffin) peaked at number three in the NZ charts. The video shows them getting down to business in the recording studio, with Crummer in her element.
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.
The first episode of Shortland Street starts with a pregnant woman being rushed to the clinic after an accident. Only the doctors are all missing. Visiting doctor Hone Ropata (Temuera Morrison), who is soon to join the team, makes the call to deliver the baby. Head nurse Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) disagrees, and proceeds to mention that Dr Ropata is no longer in Guatemala. This first episode of the five night a week soap screened on 25 May 1992. It would go on to become New Zealand's longest running TV drama (but not our first soap — that was Close to Home).