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.
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.
Shortland Street producer Steven Zanoski’s first job in television was as a writer/reporter on kids programme What Now? He went on to become a storyliner for Shortland Street and eventually the programme’s producer. During his time as a writer on the show, he also penned the screenplay for one-off TV drama House of Sticks. Zanoski has also had a hand in the development of Outrageous Fortune and executive produced Mataku and Mercy Peak.
Gloss was a popular soap opera that screened from 1987 to 1990. It pitted a respectable moneyed family against a new generation of rich yuppies. Set in the glamorous world of a fashion magazine, Gloss epitomised the high life and big spending culture of the 80s, while also showcasing the fashion du jour: shoulder pads and big hair.
Actor Peter Elliott’s career has spanned theatre, television film and radio. His screen credits include playing Rex on Gloss, Doctor David Kearney on Shortland Street, and lawyer Murray Gibson on TV movie Until Proven Innocent. As well as TV drama, Elliott has fronted and narrated a range of documentary TV series: Captain’s Log, Explorers, Frontier of Dreams and Secret New Zealand.
Danielle Cormack won a coveted role on popular 1980s soap Gloss while in her teens. Since then she has won awards for her work on Topless Women Talk about their Lives, TV's The Cult and Australian hit Wentworth.
Programmer John McCready has had a significant impact on the television industry in New Zealand. After extended time in music and radio he joined TVNZ in 1989 as Manager of Presentation and Promotion, just as TV3 came on air. The following year McCready became TVNZ's Director of Programming, and revamped both TV1 and TV2 over a four year period. He headed overseas for a while, before returning to New Zealand as Director of Programming and Marketing for Sky TV. Before retiring in 2007, McCready successfully launched The Living Channel and Food TV on Sky.
Aileen O’Sullivan has a significant screen pedigree, from acting to directing, producing and – most importantly – storytelling. Her work ranges from Gloss and The Billy T James Show to Holiday and The Great New Zealand Showdown specials. Under her production company Seannachie Productions, O'Sullivan's has helmed a number of well received documentaries including Witi Ihimaera, Black Grace – From Cannon’s Creek to Jacob’s Pillow, Life’s a Riot and Ngaio Marsh – Crime Queen.
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.
Danielle Cormack began acting on stage, then won a coveted role on popular 80s soap Gloss in her teens. She went on to a one year stint in the early days of Shortland Street. Cormack co-starred in both the TV show and movie versions of Topless Women Talk About Their Lives; her pregnancy was incorporated into the storyline. Cormack's other work includes The Price of Milk and Australian TV hit Wentworth.