Neil Roberts discovered that he loved making television programmes while working as a parliamentary journalist. In the mid 1980s he founded independent production company Communicado, whose staff grew to more than 60. Later Roberts oversaw a period of change at Television New Zealand, during a short stint as the organisation's Television Manager. He died of cancer on 8 November 1998.
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.
In a career spanning four decades, Alan Morris worked in radio and television in NZ, Australia, England and Europe. He turned his hand to announcing, copywriting, presenting and training, but at heart felt he was a producer and director. Morris was Director-General of TV One during the early days of two channel TV in NZ in the late 70s, and also held senior positions at the ABC and Associated-Rediffusion in the UK.
Catapulted to fame after tousles with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, Tom Scott originally trained to be a vet. He ended up helping Murray Ball turn Footrot Flats into a hit movie. The celebrated humourist and cartoonist has also told the story of Kiwi legends Edmund Hillary and David Lange, in both TV documentaries and dramas. Scott also co-wrote Rage, a TV movie about the 1981 Springbok tour.
Ian Cross trained as a journalist. His 1957 novel The God Boy has been hailed as a classic (and similar status afforded to the 1976 TV adaptation). As Listener editor he doubled its circulation; as broadcasting chair and chief executive he had a turbulent relationship with the Muldoon government — and failed to stem what he saw as the over-commercialisation of television.
Ian Fraser made his name in the late 70s as one of New Zealand’s most respected interviewers, facing off against everyone from Robert Muldoon to the Shah of Iran. In 2002, after time spent in public relations and as head of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he returned to Television New Zealand — this time as its chief executive.
Des Monaghan has worked as a producer and network executive in both New Zealand and Australia. A pioneering force in local current affairs, he went on to beome TVNZ's Controller of Programming, and sue Prime Minister Robert Muldoon for defamation. In 1996 Monaghan joined Bob Campbell to found Australasian production company Screentime, producers of the globally successful Underbelly drama franchise.
The voice and face of Ian Johnstone are a familiar part of the New Zealand television landscape. Since the early 60s, his work as a reporter, presenter and producer has allowed him to document many key events from the first four decades of local television.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
South African-born Simon Walker is best known down under for one 14-minute TV interview: his controversial 1976 face-off with Robert Muldoon. Walker did further NZ assignments as a TV reporter, and headed communications for Labour’s 1984 sweep to power. These days Walker is better known in the UK, after holding varied PR, communications and advisory roles for John Major, British Airways, Reuters, and the Queen.