Maria Dallas' performance of Jay Epae song ‘Tumblin’ Down’ helped make it a top 20 hit in 1966. Impressed with her versatility at the Loxene Golden Disc Award ceremony that year, TV producer Christopher Bourn invited her into a television studio five days before Christmas to perform songs for two 15 minute episodes of her own show, Golden Girl. Over the next year Dallas’ career continued to explode. In between trips to Australia, America and Asia, Bourn got her back to film further episodes, each one featuring four or five songs by Dallas, plus a guest spot by another performer.
Author, chef, bon vivant and redhead, Peta Mathias has explored food and cooking on New Zealand television screens for more than 10 years — many of them spent presenting the various titles of the Taste series. Over two seasons of Taste Takes Off, Peta visited 16 destinations — chosen for their culinary diversity and cultural interest — in Asia, Europe, Australia and the Americas to get an insight into the origins of their cuisines, meet some of the locals, discover the stories behind the flavours and try her hand at cooking some signature dishes.
In this 10-part Māori Television series from 2015, three young people go aboard a traditional waka, on a six week trip around the North Island. Waka Warrior grew out of a larger project where seven traditional waka undertook a two year, 22,000 nautical mile trip from Auckland to North America and back, via the Pacific. The waka Haunui becomes a wi-fi free 'floating marae' for the students, as they are mentored in the "ancient laws of voyaging". The series was created by Anna Marbrook and veteran waka skipper Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, and produced by Auckland company Zoomslide.
Prime time show Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road took the former rugby-playing duo of Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis (Fresh-up in the Deep End) and sent them to various corners of the globe. Each series or instalment went somewhere new —including the United Kingdom, South America, Russia, Japan and India — where the duo took in the local culture in the form of a physical challenge, which generally saw the loser subjected to humiliation, ridicule and usually pain. For their Rocky Road to Athens series, the pair crossed Europe in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Landmarks was a major 10-part series that traced the history of New Zealand through its landscape, particularly the impact of human settlement and technology. The concept was modelled on the epic BBC series America. Here a bespectacled, Swannie-wearing geography professor, Kenneth B Cumberland, stands in for Alistair Cooke, interweaving science, history and sweeping imagery to tell the stories of the landscape's "complete transformation". It received a 1982 Feltex Award for Best Documentary and the donnish but game Cumberland became a household name.
This 80s relic was a homegrown take on US show That's Incredible!, with spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings replaced with subjects that were more kiwiana kitsch than wow! It was the first show from production company Communicado; presenters included Tim Shadbolt, Neil Roberts, Sue Kedgley, Phil Gifford and Phil Keoghan. In a Vanity Fair interview to illustrate Kiwi's "enormous understatement" Jane Campion famously quipped: "You know, they used to have a program on TV in New Zealand, That's Fairly Interesting. [...] In America, it's That's Incredible!"
Gloss was a popular Kiwi television drama series made by TVNZ that screened in the late 80s; it combined a wealthy family, the Redferns, with a lucrative high-fashion magazine business. Yuppies, shoulder-pads and méthode champenoise abound in this cult "glamour soap". New Zealanders wanted to see themselves as less bottom of the world and more "here we come and we are sailing" (as the infamous Cup campaign song warbled), and Gloss was just what the era demanded.
Punk rock was breaking and musical styles changing, but in New Zealand country music was appointment viewing at 7pm on Saturday. That's Country ran from 1980 to 1984. Hosted by one-time pop singer Ray Columbus, the show featured both local and international talent including Suzanne Prentice, Patsy Riggir, Emmylou Harris and George Hamilton IV. An American offer to buy the show and install a US presenter were resisted. Instead the show was sold to a Nashville cable TV network, in a New Zealand first; That's Country soon had an audience of 30 million in the States.
After her husband is jailed, matriarch Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm) decides the time has come to set her family on the straight and narrow. But can the Wests change old habits? So begins the six-series long saga of the Westie dynasty. Hugely popular at home (beloved by public, critics and awards-nights alike), and imitated overseas, Outrageous Fortune has been a flag-bearer for TV3 and contemporary NZ telly drama; the series proved — in all its grow-your-own glory — that genre TV in NZ could be so much more than overseas stories pasted to a local setting.
Homegrown Profiles was a spin-off from music channel C4's local music series Homegrown. Screened in 2005, the interview-based show featured episodes devoted to the Finn Brothers, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, Anika Moa, Shihad and Che Fu. The hour-long programmes were based around an extended interview with each artist, intercut with music videos and other performance material— all held together with a well-scripted narration by researcher/ interviewer/ director Jane Yee. Yee writes about making the show here.