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.
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.
Internationally successful Kiwi film producer Finola Dwyer began her career as an editor at the National Film Unit and then moved on to editing and producing at TVNZ. Dwyer migrated over to the film industry and worked as an editor and producer. Some of the memorable New Zealand films she worked on include Came a Hot Friday, Starlight Hotel, and The Quiet Earth. In the 90s, Dwyer moved to the UK where she has made a name for herself producing films such as Backbeat, An Education and Dean Spanley.
John Terris is a former broadcaster turned politician, who started out as a continuity announcer in the early 1960s. Shifting behind the camera, Terris worked on many early current affairs and information shows such as Compass, Country Calendar and Town and Around. In 1978 Terris became Labour MP for Western Hutt, and for a time was the party's broadcasting spokesman. These days he heads television advocacy group Media Matters.
Alister Barry is the filmmaker behind a series of provocative and politically charged documentaries, most of them self-funded. His first documentary Mururoa 1973 tackled nuclear testing, and saw him on a boat headed into the middle of a bomb test zone. Over the next four decades Barry has continued to make significant political documentaries including Someone Else’s Country, The Hollow Men, Wildcat and Hot Air.
Sean Duffy started his TV career as a news and documentary editor, then later began mixing in acting roles on film and television. His major breakthrough role was in Mortimer’s Patch. Since then he has starred in numerous TV shows including Willy Nilly, Plain Clothes, Tiger Country and The Neighbourhood Network. His film credits include Utu, Came a Hot Friday and Smash Palace. Duffy has also directed a number of TV documentaries.
Ray Waru has had a long and distinguished career as a producer and director in both television and radio. He began his TV career working on factual series such as Country Calendar, Fair Go, People Like Us and Tomorrow’s World. In 1980 he established the Māori television production unit at TVNZ, and launched the first regular Māori primetime show Koha. Waru went on to work on major documentary series Our People Our Century and Frontier of Dreams.
Rachel House is an accomplished theatre actor and director, but she has also established a strong screen career, beginning with gritty roles in Tiger Country and Queenie and Pete. Since then she has played both comedic and dramatic parts in a string of high profile movies including Whale Rider, Eagle vs Shark and Boy.
Poetry, satire and music were the mainstays of Gary McCormick’s life, before he took his unique world view to television. His on screen career began with the award-winning documentary Raglan by the Sea, on which he collaborated with filmmaker Bruce Morrison. McCormick's best-known TV series was Heartland, which ran for four years and told the stories of communities across the country. In the mid 90s McCormick teamed up with his buddy and fellow poet Sam Hunt for a romp around New Zealand in the celebrated documentary The Roaring 40’s Tour. In 1998 McCormick returned to his home town of Porirua to host The Bay Boys – a gripping documentary about life in the suburb. Since then McCormick has hosted other talk shows and was a guest host on Nightline. Now resident in Lyttelton, McCormick shares hosting duties on More FM in Christchurch with his mate Simon Barnett.
Singer and television presenter Ray Columbus, OBE, became a headline act in 1961 when he appeared on Time Out for Talent at the age of 18. He went on to perform on or host a huge range of music and light entertainment TV shows including: Club Columbus, C’Mon, Happen Inn, Personality Squares and That’s Country. With his band Ray Columbus and the Invaders, he had two big hits with ‘She’s a Mod’ and ‘Till We Kissed’.