Fed up with seeing animals unintentionally mishandled on set, former farm girl Caroline Girdlestone decided to do something about it. Now one of the most respected animal trainers in Australasia, she’s worked with almost any animal imaginable across more than 500 projects – ranging from the cute barnyard animals of Racing Stripes to the horrifying ovine creatures in Black Sheep.
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.
John Gordon lent his iconic voice to sheep versus canine series A Dog's Show for over 15 years. Southland-born Gordon was an agricultural student, shepherd and sharemilker before moving into rural radio broadcasting in 1973, for the NZ Broadcasting Corporation in Hamilton. Soon after Gordon became a director and occasional reporter for long-running TV series Country Calendar. He has also written several books on rural themes, worked for the Department of Conservation, and volunteered overseas with the New Zealand Red Cross and Volunteer Service Abroad, passing on his agricultural expertise.
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.
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.
Costa Botes has had a long independent career as a director of drama (Stalin’s Sickle, Saving Grace ), a run of feature-length documentaries (Angie, Candyman, The Last Dogs of Winter) and at least one film that is very difficult to classify (Forgotten Silver). Botes also spent many years as a film critic, with a reputation for an acerbic wit.
With his likeable, easy-going and erudite style, Jim Mora's career has spanned current affairs, entertainment and lifestyle shows. His TV profile alone reaches back more than 30 years and his time in radio stretches even further: from The South Tonight and Holmes, to Mucking In and hosting Radio New Zealand's Afternoons.
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.
Since scoring Billy T and Chapman Tripp comedy awards as half of duo Sugar & Spice (alongside Jonathan Brugh), Jason Hoyte has applied his talents to comedy, drama and voiceover work. Often cast as the smooth-talking but dodgy man in a suit (Shortland Street, taxman tale We're Here to Help), Hoyte stole the screen in school satire Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, as dodgy guidance counsellor Steve Mudgeway.
Keith Slater started his journalism career at South Pacific Television before becoming a director, then taking the helm as Auckland Bureau Chief in TV3's newsroom. Along the way he produced shows like Fair Go and Country Calendar, but his heart belonged to current affairs, where his list of credits included TV3's primetime news, 60 Minutes, 20/20, Nightline and Campbell Live. Slater passed away in June 2017.