The Almighty Johnsons is a fantasy/comedy series that screened on New Zealand television over three series from 2011 to 2013. The show is about a family of brothers who are descended from Norse gods, desperately trying to restore their powers. While not a huge ratings success in New Zealand, the series has won a cult following in a number of countries.
The late Frank Torley was a Kiwi television legend, forever known as that Country Calendar guy - he variously narrated, directed, produced, and reported for the show over more than 40 years. But Torley hadn’t always been Mr Rural. He also spent time as a newsreader, Top Town presenter, documentary maker (including an early doco on AIDs), and producing religious programmes.
Actor Roy Billing has talked of becoming "an overnight sensation in my early 60s", thanks to playing ‘Aussie Bob’ Trimbole in hit Australian drama Underbelly. Before that he had a successful 30 year acting career in both Australia (Rabbit Proof Fence, The Dish and Siam Sunset) and New Zealand (Inside Straight, Gliding On and Skin and Bone).
Veteran actor Kevin J Wilson has made a career out of playing no-nonsense Kiwi blokes. His film credits include Pictures, Wild Horses and Chunuk Bair. He played Janet Frame’s father in Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table, starred in the Wellington-based TV cop series Shark in the Park, and replaced the late Bruno Lawrence in the Aussie comedy show Frontline.
Thedownlowconcept is an Auckland-based production company run by Ryan Hutchings, Jarrod Holt and Nigel McCulloch. Their first TV production was music quiz show Pop Goes the Weasel. They cemented their TV comedy credentials with hit show 7 Days, and followed it up with ‘science for blokes’ series Bigger Better Faster Stronger and acclaimed comedy series Hounds. Thedownlowconcept have also made a number of short films for the 48 Hour Film Festival including the award-winning Only Son.
From reporting to scriptwriting and acting, Keith Aberdein has been a part of some of New Zealand’s biggest television and film moments. His screen career began as a journalist on Town and Around and Compass. Aberdein has scripted major TV shows such as Pukemanu, Section 7, Moynihan, Close to Home, and the colonial epic The Governor.
A generation of Kiwi kids grew up watching Jason Gunn on television. At the same time Gunn grew up on television himself. Beginning in children’s TV, Gunn hosted Jase TV, The Son of a Gunn Show, After School, and What Now? Through many of these shows his co-star was a hugely popular life size puppet named Thingee. Gunn moved on to other programmes such as Young Entertainers and Small Talk. In recent years Gunn has starred in a host of top-rating primetime entertainment and game shows including Wheel of Fortune, The Rich List and Dancing with the Stars.
Peter Williams has had a distinguished career as a sports broadcaster and newsreader. He began his broadcasting career in radio while still in his teens, then joined TVNZ as a sports reporter and commentator in 1979. He went on to present major events such as the Olympic Games and the Rugby World Cup. Since the 90s Williams has read the news on TV ONE’s Breakfast, and on primetime weekend bulletins.
Wayne Leonard began his career as a sound operator, but later moved to directing, where he made his name helming sports and live shows that require multiple cameras. Leonard has directed some of the biggest events on television from the Olympic Games and America’s Cup, to Christmas in the Park. He has also produced or directed primetime TV shows This is Your Life, My Kitchen Rules and Game of Two Halves. In 2013 he was part of the team nominated for multiple Emmy awards for coverage of the America’s Cup in San Francisco.
Veteran broadcaster Brian Edwards is an Irish import who made a big impact on New Zealand current affairs television. He was first seen on the 1960s regional programme Town and Around, and made a name for himself as a no-nonsense interviewer on Gallery. On that show he helped bring about the end of a union dispute with the Post Office, live on air. His bi-weekly TV show Edwards on Saturday followed, and was a ratings hit. Later, Edwards helped start up the long-running consumer rights show Fair Go, and hosted the popular Top of the Morning on Radio New Zealand.