Marcus Lush made his first forays into television in the 1990s, but it was a 2003 episode of travel show Intrepid Journeys that set him on a new broadcasting path. Since then the longtime talkback host has won acclaim and awards for Off the Rails, which chronicles his journey along New Zealand's railway lines, and travelled in varying directions for shows ICE, North, and South.
Lush was raised largely in Auckland, the fourth son of a printer and a speech therapist. He began his long career in talkback radio by presenting a show on student station Radio bFM (now 95bFM), where he worked alongside Eating Media Lunch co-creator Paul Casserly. At the age of 24, he took over the graveyard talkback shift on 1ZB.
In 1993 TVNZ Head of Programming John McCready noted Lush's talent, and gave him some TV experience by getting him to host episodes of advice show Dilemmas. Lush went on to late night TV2 news show Newsnight. Lush spent time as host of the show's less serious half, presenting stories on guinea-pig shows and lawnmower collectors. He followed it soon after with a stint on the short-lived Bizarro, alongside Belinda Todd.
Lush also reported for many episodes of arts magazine show Mercury Lane, and later spent time on the panel of lit-lovers show The Book Show.
But it was travel that signaled a new path for Lush's television career; it seemed to showcase his informal, ad hoc, ever curious style to best advantage. In the first series of Intrepid Journeys in 2003, he spent time amongst the pyramids and camels of Egypt (in 2007, he returned for an episode in Russia). Intrepid Journeys was directed and co-produced by Melanie Rakena, from Auckland production company JAM TV. After working on it, Lush refused to make television with anyone else.
Rakena and Lush went on to make Off the Rails, one of the highest-rating Kiwi shows of 2004. The programme follows the trainspotting Lush as he ventures from his transplanted home town of Bluff to Opua in the North, meeting locals and utilising a range of railways — including coal, freight and steam. Lush argued that the show was about more than trains: "that's why we subtitled it ‘A Love Story'. It was really a love story about New Zealand."
Lush took away the award for best presenter at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards; Off the Rails also won gongs for best director and best information/ lifestyle programme at the 2005 Qantas Screen Awards.
In December 2008 Lush began work on South, in which he explored Southland and Otago. After the show debuted the following August, it won him another Qantas award for best presenter, plus a best director gong for Melanie Rakena. February 2011 saw the debut of a companion show from the same team: North. This time Lush headed north from Auckland, visiting a number of nearby islands along the way.
At the end of 2014 it was announced that Lush would host Twain's Tour. The series sees Lush retracing Mark Twain's 1895 trip though NZ by foot, boat and of course train.
Lush spent almost a decade on station RadioLive, most of it as a breakfast talkback host. He left the station in December 2014. From January 2016 he began hosting Newstalk ZB's night show.
'Marcus Lush to host Newstalk ZB's night show' - The NZ Herald, 11 December 2014
'A treat for audiences of documentary, factual and arts programmes' (press release) - NZ On Air website. Loaded 16 December 2014. Accessed 13 January 2015
'Kerre McIvor's New Newstalk ZB Co-Host Announced for 2016' (press release) - Scoop website. Loaded 19 August 2015. Accessed 29 September 2015