Peter Hudson and David Halls won an enthusiastic following for cooking shows which showcased their flamboyant, unscripted style. Their story was later the subject of documentary Hudson and Halls - A Love Story.
Australian-born Hudson was the bespectacled, dark haired member of the couple. He first met David Halls while holidaying in New Zealand from Melbourne. Later they moved in together, and opened a shoe shop, then an ice cream parlour in Queen Street's Grand Arcade.
In 1975 the couple debuted with a 10 minute cooking segment on the daytime programme Speakeasy. After setting the stove on fire during one Speakeasy appearance, they continued to adlib through the smoke.
Within two years Hudson and Halls had secured their own prime time show, combining cookery, sly banter, and the occasional interview. By 1981 the show often featured in the week's five most highly rated programmes, and the public voted them Feltex Entertainers of the Year.
Meats, sauces, chocolate logs — the food was often rich, more "men's food than lighter food", according to sometime guest Alison Holst. But at least (as director Graeme Hodgson put it) they had introduced "your average housewife to something a damn sight more interesting than spaghetti on toast or the predictable Kiwi fare".
The show's high energy and sometimes anarchic cookery scenes reflected the cutting banter friends had witnessed between the couple off-screen. It also required knife-edge timing. Hudson admitted that they were much more at home in the cooking segments than the interviews, which at times resembled a three way tennis game dominated by one pair.
Hudson and Halls' television career coincided with an increasing awareness of gay issues in the New Zealand media. Though the pair rarely mentioned their relationship directly in public, it can be argued that they were popular and high profile homosexuals at a time when homosexuality was still punishable by law.
South Pacific Television's public relations department, fearing a public backlash, used an old Noel Coward line in their publicity: "I'm not sure if they are gay, but they certainly are merry".
In the late 1980s, after local television executives showed little interest in commissioning more series, Hudson and Halls won a contract to work for the BBC. Despite initially negative reviews the show won respectable audiences, and sold to many countries in Europe.
Sadly for Peter Hudson, problems with both immigration legalities and personal health coincided with the move to London. He died of cancer in 1992. Halls committed suicide 14 months later.
Two decades later the beloved duo would return to the limelight. They were the subject of hit play Hudson & Halls Live! — which recreates the filming of one of their cooking shows — and Joanne Drayton book Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love.
Profile updated on 22 November 2018
Robert Boyd-Bell, New Zealand Television - The First 25 Years (Auckland: Reed Methuen Publishers,1985)
Phil Gifford, 'Essential ingredients' - The Listener, 24 September 1983
Philip Matthews, 'Camp cooking' - The Listener, 5 May 2001
'Hudson and Halls - A Love Story' (Television Documentary) Director Juliet Monaghan (Greenstone Pictures 2001)