In the Cold War 60s, thrillers peopled with jetsetting spies with shifty figures standing behind pillars in sunnies were all the rage (Danger Man, The Man from Uncle). Kiwi entry The Alpha Plan revolves around a British security agent who finds himself downunder, on the run, investigating strange disappearances amongst a Mensa-like society made up the planet's brightest brains. The ambitious six-part mystery thriller was the first Kiwi TV drama designed to go beyond one episode; positive reaction to the show paved the way for NZBC’s in-house drama department.
The Fire-Raiser pits a quartet of smalltown World War I era school kids against a mysterious figure with fire on the brain. Inspired partly by a real-life Nelson arsonist, the five-part gothic adventure was created for television by author Maurice Gee. Peter Hayden plays the town’s unconventional teacher ‘Clippy’ Hedges, while the lead role went to Royal NZ Ballet star Jon Trimmer. The Fire-Raiser won four Listener TV awards, including best overall drama and best writer. Gee’s accompanying novel was published both here and overseas. He writes about the show's birth here.
Asia Downunder was a weekly magazine show for and about the Asian population in New Zealand. The long-running series featured a range of stories covering news, profiles, arts, business and travel, with occasional specials devoted to a single topic. The show was produced and presented by Korean-born Melissa Lee (later a National Party MP) and a small team of reporters. After debuting on TV One in 1994 as Asia Dynamic, it was retitled Asia Downunder in 1999. Altogether the show ran for 19 seasons. Later producers included Chris Wright and Kadambari Gladding.