Close to Home first screened on TV One in May 1975 and ran for eight years. The popular and ground-breaking series was New Zealand television's first soap opera. It was based in Wellington and centred around the trials and tribulations of the Hearte family. At its peak in 1977, Close to Home attracted a twice weekly audience of one million viewers.
Janice Finn is a television writer/producer who has also spent time in front of the camera. Her acting roles have included parts in Close to Home and The Strip. Finn produced the high camp 80s soap Gloss and 90s drama Marlin Bay, and has written extensively for Shortland Street. She has also produced reality series such as Changing Rooms for Touchdown Productions. Lately Finn has been producing documentaries for Natural History New Zealand.
Actor Jeffrey Thomas has had a long and varied career in both TV and theatre. His best-known television role was as Inspector Brian Finn in the police series Shark in the Park. Thomas has also appeared in Mercy Peak, Shortland Street, Spartacus and Outrageous Fortune.
Ilona Rodgers has starred in a huge array of theatre, film and TV roles in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. As well as appearing in many British and Australian TV shows screened in New Zealand, Rodgers has been a stalwart of locally made programmes such as Close to Home and Hunter's Gold. Probably best known for playing Maxine Redfern in Gloss, some of Rodgers' other screen credits include The Billy T James Show, Marlin Bay and the film Utu.
Steve La Hood began directing on soap opera Close to Home, and went on to direct tele-play Swimming Lessons, Bruno Lawrence documentary Numero Bruno and episodes of Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. He also produced ground-breaking series The Marching Girls. These days he creates multimedia attractions around the globe with company Story Inc, alongside James McLean.
Veteran broadcaster and journalist Ian Johnstone helped pioneer current affairs programming in New Zealand by hosting and reporting on the shows Compass and Close Up in the 1960s. Johnstone was the first host of the regional programme Town and Around and went on to co-host Tonight at Nine after the debut of South Pacific Television. Since then Johnstone has been involved in a variety of TV series and documentaries, and has even turned his hand to a bit of character acting in television dramas. Johnstone is perhaps best remembered as the long-time host of the Crimewatch series.
Ken Blackburn is a British born actor and writer who emigrated to New Zealand as a child. In his long career, Blackburn has appeared in theatre and screen productions in New Zealand, Australia and Britain. He is best known in this country for his portrayal of The Boss in the popular sitcom Gliding On. His other TV credits include Close to Home, Hunter’s Gold, Moynihan and Shortland Street. His film credits include Skin Deep and Rest for the Wicked.
Actor Jim Moriarty cut his teeth on the early dramas Pukemanu and Close to Home, then went on to appear in a number of other TV projects such as Inside Straight and City Life. He has starred in films The Strength of Water, No Petrol No Diesel, and played Jesus in Saving Grace. As well as acting, Moriarty has directed in television and theatre, and works with at risk Māori youth.
Fiona Samuel has found success as an actor, writer and director. Her first acting job was in long-running soap Close to Home, and she followed that with appearances in a number of film and TV shows. Samuel’s greatest passion, however, is for writing and directing. She was the creative force behind pioneering female-centric series The Marching Girls, and has written scripts for Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons and Interrogation. Samuel also wrote and directed award-winning dramas Piece of My Heart, and Bliss: The Beginning of Katherine Mansfield.
Judy Callingham has had a long and varied television career as a reporter, presenter, and writer. She first appeared on our screens as a continuity announcer, but then moved on to reporting on the 1960s regional programme Town and Around. Callingham then developed her skills as a television drama writer on shows such as Close to Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park and Shortland Street.