The broadcasting career of so-called 'Mr Country Calendar' Frank Torley spanned almost half a century. He worked on the iconic rural series as reporter, producer and narrator, and a number of other programmes besides. In 2002, he was awarded the ONZM for services to broadcasting. Torley died of cancer on 27 March 2016, just weeks after Country Calendar celebrated its 50th year on air.
Fred Barnes founded Country Calendar in 1966. The show would become one of the longest running on the planet; and as presenter, Barnes became one of New Zealand's most widely-known TV personalities. After commanding rural broadcasting for state television and radio, Barnes trained journalists in Malaysia and headed Radio New Zealand's overseas programming division. He died 13 March 1993, at 72.
Reporter turned producer Tony Trotter was a key figure in the long history of rural show Country Calendar, pulling the programme out of the studio and towards a wider audience. Spotting the talent of Country Calendar reporter John Gordon, Trotter got him to front the quirky A Dog's Show. Later Trotter won two Feltex awards producing for TVNZ’s fledgling Natural History Unit. He passed away on 9 March 2016.
Producer Colin Follas worked on a long line of agriculture-related TV shows: from Country Calendar (which he regularly fronted, with such aplomb he was known as 'One Shot Follas') to specialist productions Ag Report and Farming with Pictures. He set up company Tiger Films, and produced shows ranging from corporate videos and food promotions to award-winning Treaty of Waitangi drama Nga Tohu: Signatures.
After cutting his teeth on South Pacific Television soap Radio Waves, Christchurch-born Grant Morris went on to write comedy (The Billy T James Show) and children’s classic Count Homogenized — plus help create drama series Heroes and Inside Straight. Morris has continued to write since relocating to the United States in 1985, and is now a DJ on radio station It's New Orleans.
Director Roz Mason has three decades worth of credits on television documentaries and TV series. She cut her screen teeth on TVNZ staples like Fair Go, Kaleidoscope and Crimewatch, before going freelance in the 90s. Subjects Mason has directed range from poets, drama students and assault survivors, to shipwrecks and sword swallowers — plus orangutans and pandas for company NHNZ.
A passionate advocate for Māori creative control, director Merata Mita (1942 — 2010) chronicled landmark moments of protest and division in Aotearoa. Her work included Patu!, a documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour, and Mauri (1988), only the second feature to have a Māori woman as director. She features in documentaries Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen and Merata Mita - Making Waves.
At high school Craig Parker was "the world's most uncoordinated kid". After discovering that taking drama would mean less time in PE, he picked acting. The decision launched a 30+ year career around the globe. His screen roles include Shortland Street, Mercy Peak, and TV movie Shackleton's Captain. Since winning a keen fan base for a bit part in Lord of the Rings, he has also acted in Spartacus and Reign.
Julian O'Brien, who shepherds the team of reporter/directors on Country Calendar, knows something about the job. He spent nine years in the field, before returning as the show's producer. O'Brien began as a newspaper journalist, and his broadcast career also includes stints directing current affairs, documentaries and corporate videos.
During a broadcasting career spanning more than three decades, versatile producer/director Peter Morritt produced and directed a run of shows for state television, from current affairs to talk shows, including the first two seasons of Fair Go. London-born Morritt retired in 1996.