Writer and comedian Jon Gadsby, QSM, likely spent more time being funny on NZ television screens than almost anyone — aside perhaps from his longtime partner in crime, David McPhail. After appearing together on breakthrough comedy show A Week of It, the two helped form the comic backbone of the long-running McPhail and Gadsby, satirical show Issues, and the outdoor escapades of Letter to Blanchy.
Lawyer turned satirist AK Grant was writing partner to comedians David McPhail and Jon Gadsby. Together the three created breakthrough comedy hit A Week of It; Grant went on to write for McPhail and Gadsby, Letter to Blanchy and the sitcom version of The Billy T James Show. He passed away on 29 June 2000, at the age of 59.
David McPhail's television resume is that of a genuine stayer. Working with Jon Gadsby, his longtime comic partner in crime, McPhail co-starred — and famously impersonated Sir Rob Muldoon — in landmark sketch shows A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby. Later he helped create the Barry Crump-style yarns of Letter to Blanchy, and played the no-nonsense teacher in Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.
Peter Rowley has performed alongside many Kiwi comedy legends, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby and Billy T James. After debuting on hit 1970s sketch show A Week of It, he joined the ensembles of McPhail and Gadsby and (in 1985) The Billy T James Show. In 1994 Rowley won equal billing alongside comedian Pio Terei on Pete and Pio, before going on to co-star in McPhail and Gadsby's Letter to Blanchy.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.
A meticulous, unflappable producer and director, John Lye’s career spanned three decades – most of it spent with TVNZ in Christchurch and Avalon. Lye did time as a cameraman and floor manager. Later he commanded two major productions of the 1980s — That’s Country and McPhail and Gadsby. After leaving TVNZ in 2000, he helped launch Big Brother Australia and live broadcasts of New Zealand Parliament.
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.
Stage and screen veteran Rima Te Wiata has showcased her talents as an actor (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), impersonator (More Issues), and singer (Little Shop of Horrors) — often all at the same time. In 2017 Te Wiata was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit, for her work on film and television.
In the late 1970s actor and singer Marcus Craig ( aka Diamond Lil) popularised the glittering world of drag for mainstream New Zealand. His hit cabaret act featured talents like Billy T James and Tina Cross; his duet with Fred Dagg made the pop charts. His television credits include satirical series Something to Look Forward to, various guest slots and the role of co-host on variety show Top of the World.
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.