Special effects man and designer Richard Taylor got his break making puppets for 1980s comedy series Public Eye. He has gone on to become a key part of the Weta effects empire, supervising the creation of orcs, zombie mishaps and miniature cities for movies and TV shows. A passionate advocate for Kiwi talent, Taylor and his team have scored five New Zealand screen awards, four BAFTAS and five Academy Awards.
After helping out on Peter Jackson's debut feature Bad Taste, Cameron Chittock went on to design and help create 90+ puppets for Jackson's ambitious creature feature Meet the Feebles. Since then, Chittock has worked on children's shows for TV3, and created and directed a range of animated TV shows — including claymation export Oscar and Friends and Australian-Singapore co-production Bottle Top Bill.
Danny Mulheron has come at comedy from almost every angle: as a writer, as a director, as co-creator of the politically-incorrect Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, and from inside a hippo suit. But laughter is not the whole story. Mulheron has also acted in Close to Home and Roche, presented for car programme AA Torque Show, and directed everything from documentaries (The Third Richard) to Rage, a tele-movie on the 1981 tour.
Putting on magic and Punch and Judy shows as a child led Michael Woolf to a career as a broadcaster and performer. After joining the NZ Broadcasting Service he became an announcer, presenting TV in Wellington in the 60s and performing the country’s first televised puppet show. As an actor he appeared in Goodbye Pork Pie, and played a villain in Rangi’s Catch.
Dunedin businessman and artist, Fred O’Neill, whose hobby of making quirky animated films brought him international recognition, sent his Plasticine hero to Venus thirty years before Nick Park got Wallace and Gromit to the Moon. O’Neill’s films encouraged children not to take up smoking, brought Māori legends to the screen in a novel way, and entertained young viewers in the early years of New Zealand television. Image credit: Stills Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Courtesy of the Fred O'Neill collection.
Jason Gunn is one of the most recognised faces on New Zealand television. He began as a presenter on children's TV. These days Gunn is best known for hosting top-rating programme Dancing with the Stars and the game show Wheel of Fortune.
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.
Although better known as a songwriter and champion of New Zealand music, Arthur Baysting has also made a number of contributions to the screen. In the 1970s he was a scriptwriter on breakthrough dramas Winners & Losers and Sleeping Dogs, while his white-clad alter ego Neville Purvis graced cabaret stages and a short-lived TV series. Since then he has concentrated on writing songs and screenplays.
Kim Gabara's long Kiwi television career began in the late 60s. He went on to create and direct a run of children's programmes, including the iconic It is I, Count Homogenized and puppet series Woolly Valley.
Suzy Cato leapt from radio announcing into television as presenter of TV3's Early Bird Show, quickly claiming her place as one of New Zealand's most beloved children's presenters. Thanks to the success of Suzy's World and pre-school favourite You and Me, her television CV now runs to well over 2300 episodes. In 1999 she set up her own company, Treehut Productions.