Wayne Tourell is a prime contender for having the longest CV of any director in local television. Tourell began as an actor and presenter. The multiple Feltex award-winner has gone on to direct documentaries (Landmarks, Moriori), drink driving campaigns, teen movie Bonjour Timothy — not to mention episodes of Mortimer’s Patch, Shortland Street, Gloss and his beloved legal drama Hanlon.
Actor Heather Lindsay (now Heather Randerson) cemented her part in New Zealand television history as one of the original cast of the country’s first bona-fide soap hit, Close to Home. Alongside her theatre work, she enjoyed an extensive screen career in the 80s and 90s, acting alongside some of the biggest talents of the day.
A newspaper journalist by training, Karen Sims began her TV career on South Pacific Television’s News at Ten. In the early 80s she moved into presenting, with current affairs shows Eyewitness and Foreign Correspondent. She co-presented the nightly Eyewitness News alongside David Beatson, but continued to work as a journalist — and expected to be judged on her field stories and studio interviews, rather than as a celebrity.
Brian Kassler started his career building sets for theatre and film, then worked as a camera grip on a host of New Zealand features. In the mid 80s he started supplying film equipment to local crews, before launching successful production company Flying Fish with Lee Tamahori. Today he fronts Showtools, a film production website.
Julienne Stretton spent three decades documenting NZ people and culture for TV, as a researcher, producer and director. Her subjects have ranged from Katherine Mansfield and Hollywood actor Nola Luxford, to a young disabled couple in the groundbreaking Miles and Shelly documentaries. She researched major documentaries on Moriori and Gallipoli, and shared a 1992 Qantas Award for 60 Minutes.
One of New Zealand’s leading TV actors, Jeffrey Thomas was born in Wales and graduated with a Master of Literature from Oxford University. Since arriving in Wellington in 1976, his credits have included Close To Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park, Mercy Peak, Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune. In the 80s he starred in a Welsh language drama series. An award-winning playwright, he has also acted extensively on stage.
Hugh Macdonald began his long, award-studded career at the National Film Unit, where at 25 he directed ambitious three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand (1970), which was seen by 400,000 New Zealanders. In the 80s he produced Oscar-nominated short The Frog, the Dog, and the Devil and established his own company, continuing a busy diet of commercial films, train documentaries and animation.
Marcia Russell, OBE, blazed a trail for women working in print and screen journalism. Her TV work ranged from reporting and documentary making, to Beauty and the Beast panelist, and a key role in the creation of TV3. She was behind the award-winning Revolution series (surveying 80s Labour government reforms), and contributed to major series Landmarks and The New Zealand Wars. Russell died on 1 December 2012.
Composer Stephen McCurdy's screen music has crossed the gamut — from jazz, chamber pieces, rock, and pop, to the faux Peggy Lee song which opened each episode of 80s soap Gloss. McCurdy won NZ Film Awards for his scores to Came a Hot Friday and The End of the Golden Weather.
Veteran producer and production designer Grahame McLean helped organise the shoots of a run of landmark Kiwi productions, from The Games Affair to Sleeping Dogs. Later he brought TV success Worzel Gummidge down under, and became the first — and will likely long remain one of the few — New Zealanders to direct two feature films back to back.