Amanda Billing played the "neurotic, belligerent but deeply sensitive" Doctor Sarah Potts on Shortland Street for 10 years. Billing felt devastated when the beloved character died on the soap, but it gave her the impetus to pursue other work. She has gone on to act in acclaimed comedy Find Me a Māori Bride and sci-fi children’s drama The Cul de Sac.
Tom Hern is a film producer who began his screen career as a junior reporter on children’s television show What Now?. He went on to star in The Tribe, where he met his future business partner James Napier Robertson. Hern acted in a number of other TV shows such as Shortland Street and Power Rangers, before producing his first feature film I’m Not Harry Jenson. Since then Hern has produced features Everything We Loved and The Dark Horse.
Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce both got their starts in TV comedy after stints at broadcasting school, before joining forces in 2012 to create long-running hit show Jono and Ben. Here they talk about their careers, including: Hating M*A*S*H but loving SportsCafe — and how Jono and Ben was a loose version of Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge's TV partnership, only without the athleticism or business smarts Early forays into broadcasting, including a young Jono harassing Mai Fm DJ Robert Rakete until he was allowed on the radio, and Ben Boyce’s haphazard attempt at rugby commentary as a 19-year-old Ben discusses early creative endeavours including making movies on a farm as a kid, writing the "show us your crack" advert, and creating an early version of Pulp Sport at broadcasting school The perks of working with your best mate everyday on Jono and Ben, and getting to see younger talents from the show succeed — e.g. Guy Williams, Rose Matafeo, Laura Daniel and Jordan Watson (How to Dad) The challenges of transitioning from their 10pm time slot after 7 Days, to an hour of prime time at 7:30pm — and how Jono and Ben was hitting its stride in its seventh and final season How the internet is changing how comedy is viewed, and the difficulty of advertising executives always requesting “a viral video”
James Napier Robertson began his career as an actor in the teen shows Being Eve and The Tribe. Finding acting unfulfilling, he moved into writing and directing with the short film Foul Play, before forming a production company with business partner Tom Hern. Since then Napier Robertson has directed two features: I’m Not Harry Jenson and The Dark Horse.
Marshall Napier has forged a successful acting career playing strong supporting roles in a swathe of Kiwi and Aussie TV dramas and films. His numerous credits include The Governor, Goodbye Pork Pie, Came a Hot Friday, Blue Heelers, Babe, McLeod’s Daughters and Water Rats. He also has a strong pedigree in theatre, and took his own play Freak Winds to New York in 2006.
Selwyn Toogood is still remembered as Mr It’s in the Bag, despite a broadcasting career which ran more than 50 years. Karyn Hay is known as Ms Radio with Pictures, despite being reborn as a radio host and award-winning novelist. And Russell Smith will be forever associated with milk-mad vampire Count Homogenized, despite a long career acting on stage and screen.
Music is Peter Blake's passion. Blake's career has encompassed jazz, Hendrix covers, keyboards for Hello Sailor – and quite a lot of television. After time at radio station 2ZA he began working on TV music show Grunt Machine, then got the job of musical director, and later producer of the high-rating, hit-making Ready to Roll. Soon he was commanding a stable of music shows that included RTR, Radio with Pictures, Heartbeat City, and stereo simulcasts of rock concerts.
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.
Ex waitress Justine Smith began her comedy career after a dare to enter an open mike night.
Actor and director John Callen has a voice that is hard to forget. Callen has appeared in a number of TV shows and films including Close to Home, The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and, more recently, The Hobbit. His directing credits include Shortland Street, and the documentary series Epitaph and Taonga.