As a head of drama in New Zealand television, John McRae spearheaded a run of shows that were both local and export successes. McRae's four-decade television career saw him working in three countries, and winning two Emmy awards.
Douglas Drury was one of a group of producers who lead an expansion of local television drama at a time — the mid 60s — where New Zealanders rarely saw their own stories on screen. Later, as second in command of state television’s drama department, he helped launch landmark series Pukemanu and initiated NZ's first situation comedy, Buck House. Drury passed away in Australia on 5 February 2016.
While still in his 20s Chris Thomson was given command of a number of landmark local TV dramas, including genre-hopping colonial tale The Killing of Kane and The Alpha Plan (1969), New Zealand’s first dramatic television series. After time working for the BBC, he moved to Australia and began a long and busy career as a director, including credits on high profile mini-series 1915 and Waterfront. Thomson died on 1 July 2015.
Tony Isaac played a major hand in creating some of the key TV dramas of 1970s Kiwi television. He produced New Zealand's first continuing television drama Pukemanu, co-created Close to Home, our first soap, and was one of the main forces behind The Governor, arguably the most ambitious TV drama yet made on New Zealand soil. Isaac passed away in May 1986.
Ric Pellizzeri is an award-winning TV director and producer. He has worked extensively both in his native Australia and New Zealand, having partnered with company Screentime on Underbelly NZ and telefilms Siege, How to Murder Your Wife, The Monster of Mangatiti and Rainbow Warrior drama Bombshell. His Aussie credits include hit police drama Blue Heelers and directing the pilot episode of Home and Away.
Fiona Samuel is one of those talents who has worked prolifically across so many fields, she defies labels: she has worked variously as an actor on stage and screen (Stroke, Lemming Aid), playwright (The Wedding Party), director (TV movies Bliss, Home Movie), singer (musical revue Babes in the Mood) and scriptwriter (Consent, Outrageous Fortune).
One of NZ’s most experienced and prolific TV producers, Ross Jennings cut his teeth at Avalon in the late 1970s on dramas like Close to Home and Moynihan. After stints as Head of Drama at TVNZ and at Crawfords in Melbourne, he began a long association with Screentime Communicado where he created early reality TV series Middlemore, and Police 10-7. Jennings passed away on 25 March 2016.
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.
With Hunter's Gold, Gather Your Dreams and Children of Fire Mountain, Roger Simpson blazed a successful trail for Kiwi drama shows aimed at a younger audience. Though he has written further New Zealand projects, Simpson relocated to Australia in the early 70s. Since then he has written and produced on a long run of television dramas, most often alongside producing partner Roger Le Mesurier.
Peter Sharp is one of New Zealand's most prolific directors of screen drama. Though his directing work covers the gamut from police shows and soap satires to live performance, Sharp is best known for his work helming kidult dramas - including Maurice Gee period tales The Fire-Raiser and The Champion. He also directed award-winning mini-series Erebus: the Aftermath.