An outstanding project designer, Logan Brewer first made his mark on television with ambitious period drama Hunter’s Gold. In the early 80s he went freelance, producing cop show Mortimer’s Patch and children’s drama Terry and the Gunrunners. His major project work included opening and closing ceremonies for the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and NZ pavilions at Expos in Brisbane and Seville. Brewer passed away in August 2015.
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.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
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.
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.
David Halls was the blonde-haired half of Hudson and Halls, whose banter-filled cookery show won high ratings and a 1981 public vote for entertainer of the year. Halls also hosted games show Blankety Blank. Later Halls and his partner Peter Hudson relocated to London, and made popular cooking shows for the BBC.
For three decades Peter Sinclair was one of New Zealand’s leading TV presenters. A radio announcer by training, he was the face of music television, fronting Let’s Go, C’mon and Happen Inn from 1964 to 1973. He reinvented himself as a quiz show host with Mastermind — and hosted telethons and beauty contests until the mid 90s. Sinclair returned to radio and wrote an online column until his death in August 2001.
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.
Bernie Allen, QSM, was a professional musician and teacher before beginning his TV career as musical director of popular 60s show C’mon. He continued on to Happen Inn, followed by a vast number of shows as composer or music director over the next two decades. His score for Hunter’s Gold won an APRA Silver Scroll; his arrangement of ‘Hine E Hine’ accompanied the classic Goodnight Kiwi animation.
Veteran theatre and comic talent Doug Aston made one of his earliest TV appearances on cooking show Hudson and Halls; in two minutes on screen he almost brought the house down. In 1981 the English-born Aston joined The Billy T James Show for the first of four seasons, as one of Billy T’s main sidekicks. Later he cameoed on Billy’s self-titled sitcom, and appeared in Niki Caro's Old Bastards and drama Homeward Bound. Aston passed away on 20 July 2011.