Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
The versatile Laurie Dee has played straight, comical and musical, and sometimes comical and musical at the same time. Sideman to Billy T over the first four seasons of The Billy T James Show, Dee later reinvented himself ... as an inventor.
Veteran producer Tom Parkinson has worked with some of New Zealand television's most popular comedians, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby, and the late Billy T James (who he discovered in an Avondale Rugby League club). He also directed adventure series Hunter's Gold — whose international success helped launch a run of Kiwi-made children's dramas — and produced many international co-productions.
Tony Holden's producing and directing career spans generations of classic Kiwi comedy, from A Week of It, Gliding On, The Billy T James Show, to Spin Doctors. CEO of production company Comedia Pictures since 1985, Holden has also spent four years as TVNZ's manager of commissioning and production.
Though best known as a sports writer and radio DJ, Phil Gifford’s long career has also seen a number of noteworthy screen encounters — including top-selling rugby videos, an acclaimed feature film and sketch-writing for late legend Billy T James.
Actor Ilona Rodgers made her name with a starring role as magazine editor Maxine Redfern in prime-time soap Gloss. But Rodgers' career began in her native England; her globetrotting career has seen her acting alongside Doctor Who, The Beverly Hillbillies, and the inhabitants of Marlin Bay.
Actor, singer, and comedian Annie Whittle first won television fame on 70s comedy classic A Week of It. Since then she has presented a run of shows, had her own musical special, and acted alongside the likes of Billy T James, Miranda Harcourt, George Henare, and Anthony Hopkins.
Duane Evans Junior has been performing since he was a toddler, starting with adverts and modelling. His list of credits spans a diverse slate, from playing a young Billy T James (Billy), to a young Romeo (a JGeeks music video), and a recurring role on Shortland Street (as son of Vinnie Kruse). He has played lead roles in short films Possum, Ebony Society, and did an award-winning turn in I’m Going to Mum’s. In 2017 it was announced he would join the cast of James Cameron's Avatar sequels, as Roxto, a member of the oceanic Metkayina clan. Fluent in te reo, Evans Junior is sometimes credited as Duane Wichman-Evans Junior.
From an early role as a teen bully in Children of Fire Mountain, Mark Hadlow, ONZM, has gone on to work beside Billy T James, Peter Jackson, talking hedgehogs and mutant huhu grubs. The veteran actor/comedian is fondly remembered for playing a wide-eyed farmer on hit TV series Willy Nilly; in Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, he was grey-bearded Dori the dwarf.
Mark Wright became one of NZ television's most familiar faces in the 1990s, by imitating other people. The drama school graduate became a a reluctant comedian in an era of skit based shows that included Issues, LaughINZ, That Comedy Show, and Newsflash. His work on Issues and Sportsnight won him two NZ Film and Television awards. Wright's CV also includes a long run of stage roles, as well as live MC'ing and film acting.