Presenter, Actor, Reporter
Eclectic certainly describes Louise Wallace’s screen career: from baseball cap-wearing host of Mobil Sport, to presenting and reporting for current affairs programmes 60 Minutes and 20/20, to headline-grabbing reality TV host and participant (The Weakest Link, Celebrity Treasure Island) and acting (as a judge in Street Legal). In 2016 she was cast in Real Housewives of Auckland.
I relish the opportunity to become a gibbering, emotional, vulnerable mess because it actually shows I can act, that I've got range, because it's really easy to play a staunch cow. Louise Wallace on playing Judge Adie Saunders on Street Legal, in an NZ Herald interview, 21 May 2003
When this popular TV One comedy-drama about misbehaving real estate agents debuted in 2013, it copped flak from real estate bosses for perpetuating negative stereotypes about the industry. Agent Anna follows Anna Kingston (played by Robyn Malcolm, who also came up with the series idea), whose husband has left her and their two teenage daughters. Needing work, Kingston turns to selling houses in Auckland's cutthroat market. The programme ran for two seasons. Theresa Healey (Shortland Street), Adam Gardiner (movie Hopeless) and Roy Billing (Old Scores) co-star.
Anna Kingston (Outrageous Fortune's Robyn Malcolm) isn't having a good year: her husband has left her and their two teenage daughters, forcing her to relinquish a pampered lifestyle to return to work. Devised by Robyn Malcolm, this TV One comedy-drama follows Kingston as she tries to sell real estate and live with her parents. Her rich friends give her the cold shoulder, and her sleazy work colleague Leon Cruickshank (Adam Gardiner from movie Hopeless) proves he can't be trusted. Rejected by everyone, Kingston turns to self-help CDs for inspiration: "I deserve to win".
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).
Set in a high flying PR firm, Spin Doctors was a topical, fast turnaround satire — in the tradition of John Clarke’s The Games. No client is too grasping, no issue too unsavoury for Giles Peterson and Associates, and a team including a ruthless Australian (Mark Ferguson), a boozy trout (Elizabeth Hawthorne) and the office liberal unsuccessfully battling his conscience (John Leigh). Each episode was written and produced in just five days — allowing the writers (including James Griffin, Roger Hall and Tom Scott) full license with the week’s issues.
Ventriloquist David Strassman has appeared on talk shows and TV specials in Aotearoa, Australia, the United Kingdom and his native United States. Strassman's first TV series debuted in Australia in 1998; the next year Strassman played on British network ITV. The basic formula of a chat show hosted by a man and a shameless puppet was then carried over to New Zealand. Strassman's alter egos include the irascible Chuck Wood and the cuddly Ted E Bare. Among his local guests were Kiwi TV personalities (Mike King, Robyn Malcolm) and the occasional musician and politician.
Running an impressive four series, stylish crime show Street Legal centred around a struggling Auckland law firm, home base for unorthodox lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga'aia), and sometime girlfriend Joni Collins (Kathleen Kennard). 'Ellis's Restaurant', the first episode made following the pilot, sees Silesi defending an ex-junkie on a possession charge, and facing off for the first time on screen against Sergeant Keens Van Dam (Charlies Mesure). The episode also sees the debut of Silesi's beloved 1944 Ford Jailbar, after his Ute unexpectedly ends up in pieces.
Over four seasons, Street Legal’s slick Kiwi take on urban crime and law genres racked up a stack of award nominations - including a 2003 NZ TV Award for best drama series. Although initially wary that the Auckland setting might alienate viewers, writer Greg McGee chose a Samoan lawyer (Jay Laga’aia) as his main character, to exploit the show’s inner-city Ponsonby setting (where cafe society bumps into Pacific Island immigrant culture). Other key characters included Silesi’s lawyer ex-girlfriend Joni, and her new partner Kees, an overstressed sergeant.
One of a trio of late 90s Kiwi crime-based pilots, Street Legal was the only one that would successfully spawn a series - four series, in fact (though Kevin Smith vehicle Lawless saw two further tele-movies). The Street Legal pilot provides a stylish big city template for the show to come, as Auckland criminal lawyer David Silesi (Jay Laga-aia) enlists the help of an over- enthusiastic journalist (Sara Wiseman) in the hope of winning an out-of-court settlement over a hit and run case. Meanwhile Silesi's lawyer girlfriend smells something fishy - with good reason.
Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.
American current affairs format 20/20 was first introduced to New Zealand on TV3 in 1993, where it screened for a decade. In 2005 it moved to TVNZ, and became TV2’s signature current affairs show. The hour-long slot mixed content taken from the ABC-produced American show, with award-winning local stories; local subjects ranged from infanticide to Nicky Watson. The first host was Louise Wallace, then at TVNZ it was Miriama Kamo, and from 2011, Sonya Wilson. In 2014 local content ceased being made for 20/20. Two years later it moved to TV One, with Carolyn Robinson hosting.
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.
TV3's late night news show was devised in 1990 to provide a mix of credible news and entertainment. Once the serious news of the day was dispensed with, the brief was that the show could be a bit "off" with few rules - and the freedom to push boundaries. That's exactly what presenters like Belinda Todd, Bill Ralston, Dylan Taite and David Farrier proceeded to do in the show's often infamous "third break". Meanwhile, newsreaders including Joanna Paul, Janet Wilson, Leanne Malcolm and Carolyn Robinson did their best to keep a straight face. "Yo Nightliners!"
Independent channel TV3 launched its prime time bulletin on 27 November 1989. The flagship 6pm bulletin — originally called 3 National News — was anchored by ex state TV legend Philip Sherry, with Greg Clark handling sports. Sherry was replaced by Joanna Paul, then another ex TVNZ anchor, John Hawkesby. A 1998 revamp saw Carol Hirschfeld and John Campbell take on dual anchor roles. Their move to Campbell Live in 2005 opened the doors for a decade-long run by Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts. In 2016 Mediaworks rebranded its news service — and the slot — as Newshub.