Tom Parkinson is a veteran television producer and director who has worked on iconic Kiwi TV shows such as Hunter’s Gold, Hudson and Halls and Telethon. Parkinson was a key force behind many of our hit comedies in the 70s and 80s, including Billy T James’ shows, A Week of It, Issues, and Letter to Blanchy. Parkinson is also a former Head of Entertainment Programmes at TVNZ, and helped launch TV3.
Comedy legend David McPhail began making New Zealanders laugh in pioneering 1970s sketch show A Week of It, then he and Jon Gadsby moved on to McPhail and Gadsby. The two comedians also had big parts to play in sitcom Letter to Blanchy. Later McPhail starred as the appallingly politically incorrect teacher in Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.
Paolo Rotondo was born in Italy and has lived there and in New Zealand. In 1997 Rotondo starred in local feature The Ugly winning praise from Variety and The Times, and awards at Rome's Fantastic Film Festival. Following TV appearances in Street Legal and Jackson’s Wharf, he went on to star in urban underbelly feature Stickmen, before writing and directing short film The Freezer. Rotondo returned to the small screen as Dr Andrew Solomon in Kiwi soap Shortland Street, and also appeared as Tim in The Insiders Guide to Happiness. His work as director and writer of Dead Letters won him Best Short Screenplay at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Peter Rowley was in his early 20s when David McPhail asked him to audition for new comedy show A Week of It. Rowley talks in this Funny As interview about his long career, performing with Billy T James, and other subjects, including: Working as a stage manager at Christchurch's Court Theatre, before getting his break on A Week of It in 1977 — "It was just sensational, and it was groundbreaking" First meeting Billy T James in a corridor, and clicking with him straight away Giving up stand-up comedy in Australia to write and act in The Billy T James Show, and moving into Billy's house to write the series Hanging out of a helicopter for The Billy T James Show, and having "the most fun a guy could ever have" on accidents will happen comedy Letter to Blanchy Being a "bit difficult" while co-starring on comedy Pete and Pio in the 1990s Wearing an $8,000 wig for 2018 movie Mortal Engines (in which he played a slave trader) Note: For more on Billy T, check out this Funny As interview with Rowley and Billy T's former minder Rick Harris.
Peter Salmon is a Kiwi drama director with a trans-Tasman career. He began with a series of well-received short films: Playing Possum, Letters About the Weather, and Fog. Since then Salmon has directed a number of TV dramas in both New Zealand (Being Eve, Outrageous Fortune, This is Not My Life, Nothing Trivial); and Australia (Mr and Mrs Murder, Secrets and Lies, Offspring).
The late Jon Gadsby headlined some of New Zealand's most iconic TV comedies. Gadsby first teamed up with his long-time friend David McPhail for 1970s comedy breakthrough A Week of It, before launching series McPhail and Gadsby. Gadsby also penned rural comedy Rabbiter's Rest.
Funnyman actor Peter Rowley is best known for his appearances in a number of TV comedy shows including A Week of It, McPhail and Gadsby, The Billy T James Show, the self-titled Pete and Pio, with Pio Terei, and Letter to Blanchy. Rowley does, however, have a dramatic side which he has ably demonstrated in the feature films Savage Islands, Russian Snark and Netherwood.
Late comedian and writer Jon Gadsby was an integral part of the local comedy landscape. With his long-time friend and colleague David McPhail, Gadsby headlined some of New Zealand's most iconic comedy shows this country has produced. They first teamed up in the 1970s for A Week of It, which took pot-shots at politicians, news, and everyday life. The pair then moved on to the long-running McPhail and Gadsby. Gadsby also penned rural comedy Rabbiter's Rest and co-created Letter to Blanchy.
Even as a schoolboy, Oliver Driver knew he wanted to be an actor. Since leaving school he has had a varied career in theatre, television and film. Playing the role of male nurse Mike Galloway in Shortland Street made Driver a famous face in New Zealand, but he has also appeared in other homemade TV shows such as The Strip, Serial Killers, and Letter to Blanchy, and the films Topless Women Talk about Their Lives, Magik and Rose, Black Sheep, and A Death in the Family. Driver appeared as the villainous ‘Mr Wilberforce’ in the feature film Under the Mountain.
Radio and TV host Jim Mora began his career reporting for regional news show The South Tonight. From there, he moved on to One News and then joined Holmes when it debuted in 1989. Over the years Mora became a household name voicing and presenting popular shows including Tux Wonder Dogs, Maggie’s Garden Show and the long-running Mucking In. Mora was also involved with the creation of animated TV shows The Adventures of Massey Ferguson and Staines Down Drains, and is a regular host on RNZ National.