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.
Actor/director Danny Mulheron has acted alongside drug-addicted frogs, haunted automobiles, and “force of nature” David Fane. After appearing in early Kiwi soap Close to Home, Mulheron went on to act on television, stage and film - including in the cult Peter Jackson puppet movie Meet the Feebles. In the late 80s he found himself working on both sides of the camera on a run of television sketch shows. Mulheron’s lengthy directorial CV now includes drama, comedy, and documentary.
Jon Bridges was born in America. Since moving to New Zealand at the age of three, he has made hundreds of hours of television for NZers - not only from in front of the camera, but also behind it. Bridges' comic dexterity came to light on our screens in the early 90s with TV shows like A Bit After Ten and Away Laughing, but his first big TV role was as co-presenter of the long-running TV3 series Ice TV, which debuted in 1995. Since Ice TV, Bridges has written, directed, produced and starred in numerous documentaries, dramas, game shows and films. He is currently producing TV3's well-received comedy panel show 7 Days.
Nathaniel Lees is an NZ-born Samoan actor who has acted on both stage and screen. Lees began his screen career with small roles in Death Warmed Up and Other Halves, before joining Billy T James on his sketch comedy shows. Lees went on to appear in a number of TV dramas including Shark in the Park , City Life, Gloss, Shortland Street and Street Legal. His many film roles include Sione’s Wedding, The Lord of the Rings, Rapa Nui and The Matrix trilogy.
Celebrated actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand began her career as a child and made her screen debut on Paul Maunder-directed Gone Up North for a While aged nine. In her teens she played rebellious Jan in soap opera Close to Home, attended drama school, and on venturing into the professional world, started winning roles, including TV series Seekers, with Temuera Morrision. Her film roles include the colonial glamour drama Desperate Remedies.
Comedy legend David McPhail made Kiwis laugh with pioneering sketch show A Week of It.
Michèle A’Court is well-known for her stand-up comedy talents, but she began her screen career as a presenter on kids show What Now?. The multi award-winning comedian and columnist has also been a reporter on youth news show The Video Dispatch;
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.
Hori Ahipene could perhaps be described as New Zealand’s most 'diverse' actor, having played both male and female characters in TV comedies and dramas. In the 90s Ahipene gained a loyal fan base by appearing in the TV sketch shows Away Laughing, Skitz and Telly Laughs. Two of Ahipene’s popular gender-swapping roles were Mrs Semisi in Skitz and The Semisis, and Beverley Best in Māori Television sitcom/chat show B&B. Ahipene has also appeared in TV dramas Maddigan’s Quest, Mataku, and Shortland Street.
Rima Te Wiata won fame with her impersonations of famous New Zealanders in comedy shows Laughinz and More Issues. Her most famous parody was of newsreader Judy Bailey. Te Wiata is also a successful dramatic actor, having appeared in Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. Her film credits include Via Satellite and — after this interview was conducted — Housebound and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.