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.
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.
After making his name as part of comedy troupe Funny Business in the 80s, Willy de Wit found national success when the foursome won their own sketch show in 1988. From there de Wit appeared in a host of comedy shows throughout the 90s, including More Issues, Sportsnight and Comedy Central, before becoming a host on Radio Hauraki in 1998. He stayed with the station for 12 years.
Producer Matt McPhail’s CV includes a number of Kiwi comedy hits. He started his career directing 1990s youth show Ice TV, before helping write and direct internationally successful superhero series Amazing Extraordinary Friends. His producing credits include The Jaquie Brown Diaries, the acclaimed Hounds, and downlowconcept feature Gary of the Pacific.
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.
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.
Writer, producer and actor Paul Yates is a comedic "everyman". His CV includes sketch shows Facelift and Telly Laughs, pre-teen series Freaky and The Killian Curse, and teen sitcom Girl vs Boy. He’s written for popular sitcoms Willy Nilly and Sunny Skies, and is producer and co-writer for Wellington Paranormal, the successful What We Do in the Shadows spin-off.
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.
Allan Martin, OBE, worked as a television executive on both sides of the Tasman, but had his roots in programme making. He began making TV in England in the early 60s. Returning home, he developed influential programmes for the NZBC in Compass and Town and Around. Headhunted by the ABC in Australia, he returned to NZ in 1975 to set up the new second channel, and later became Director-General of TVNZ.
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.