Between 1975 and 1983, London-born variety artist Chic Littlewood entertained a generation of Kiwi kids, writing and presenting 500 plus episodes of his after school shows Now C Here, Chicaboom and Chic Chat — appearing with Alma Woods, puppet Willie McNabb, and as Gramps. In 1993 Littlewood enjoyed a primetime career revival, after starting a three year stint on Shortland Street. He passed away on 11 January 2015.
Mike King has spent his life cracking people up, although it hasn't always been easy to laugh himself. Starting out in stand-up, he began a long TV career as a comedian, chat show host, reality star and presenter of the acclaimed Lost in Translation. From the face of NZ Pork to animal rights activist, from addict to suicide prevention campaigner, King's progression has been nothing if not eclectic.
Paul Horan co-founded the NZ Comedy Festival and The Classic Comedy Bar, kickstarting a vital Auckland comedy scene — and his own successful trans-Tasman TV career. His credits include The Topp Twins, Super City, and Australia's Rove Live. After helping develop prime time formats like The Project, his company Slightly Uncomfortable Productions has specialised in hybrid news comedy shows.
The late, great, Davina Whitehouse arrived in New Zealand from England in 1952, having already performed in more than 40 films. Active across multiple mediums — radio, stage, television and film — she also spent four years as an NZ Film Commission board-member. Whitehouse was still acting into her 80s.
Brian Edwards began making his reputation in the late 60s as one of the country's toughest television interviewers. In 1971 an Edwards interview on current affairs show Gallery famously helped end an ongoing post office dispute. He went on to present a host of interview-based shows, and played a big hand in creating longrunning consumer rights show Fair Go.
The versatile Hori Ahipene became a New Zealand comedy fixture in the 1990s after playing a Samoan matriarch on Skitz and The Semisis, a DJ in pioneering bilingual sitcom Radio Wha Waho, and his work directing for a run of sketch shows. The Toi Whakaari graduate went on to co-star with Te Radar on offbeat sitcom and chat show B&B, then took on dual roles for kapa haka comedy The Ring Inz.
Alma Woods, MBE, founded Howick Little Theatre in 1954, soon after sailing from London. Occasional screen roles punctuated a long love affair with theatre. In the 60s she acted in two Pacific Films productions, then won a legion of fans voicing puppet mouse Willie McNab for TV's Chicaboom and Chic Chat. Her dramatic chops came to the fore in tele-films Hanlon: In Search of Minnie Deans and Mother Tongue. She died on 24 October 2005.
John McBeth's commentating career began after injuries put paid to his senior rugby playing days. He became Radio New Zealand's lead rugby commentator in 1985 and took that position at TVNZ in 1992. With his trademark sense of humour never far away, he has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games and America's Cup yachting along with many other sports.
As longtime host of primetime current affairs show Close Up, Mark Sainsbury became a household name; in 2007 the Sunday Star Times described his moustache as “the most famous in the country.” But the ginger duster doesn’t overshadow the experience and talent he’s brought to many roles over a long broadcasting career: from reporting for One News and Holmes, to officiating at Sir Edmund Hillary's funeral.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed singing on stage and screen, time in the United States, and pioneering live talk shows on television (Town Cryer). After a busy decade of TV presenting beginning in the late 60s, Cryer went behind the scenes to produce a clutch of quiz shows — before a late flowering as a prolific, bestselling author, exploring his love of words and Kiwi culture.