NZ Herald writer Michele Hewitson described the concept behind this series as "Popstars with jokes". Experienced comedian Paul Horan scours Aotearoa for fresh comedic talent; over the course of a month, fifteen newbies are tested in live and television settings. Each episode ends with eliminations — the "last stand-up standing" is crowned the winner. Comedians Jon Bridges and Raybon Kan join Horan as judges. The first episode features Queen St venue The Classic Comedy Club. The show was partly inspired by a stand-up contest for new acts held in the United Kingdom.
A foundation TV3 programme in 1989, The Early Bird Show was devised by What Now? founder Rex Simpson and followed that show’s formula in its mix of overseas cartoons and locally made inserts. Originally broadcast Monday to Friday from 7-9am, it moved to Saturday and Sunday mornings when TV3 dropped weekday morning programming in February 1990. The original puppet line-up of Russell Rooster, Kiri Kea, Dawn Chorus and Quack-ups was given a human presence in the form of Suzy Cato from mid-1990 and she remained with the show until it ended in early 1993.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Filmed before a live studio audience on weekend mornings, What Now? is a New Zealand TV institution; it was the first TV show to have live phone-ins. The series is known for its challenges that sometimes result in participants being 'gunged'. A roll-call of presenters includes Steve Parr, Danny Watson, Simon Barnett, Jason Gunn, Michelle A'Court, Tamati Coffey, Antonia Prebble, and more. 'Get out of your Lazy Bed' by Matt Bianco is the theme song memorable to generations of Kiwi kids.
Interactivity with viewers was at the heart of TVNZ bilingual youth series I AM TV. Launched at a time when social networking website Bebo was still king, I AM TV enhanced audience participation via online competitions, sharing amateur videos, and encouraging fans to send in questions during live interviews. Te reo and tikanga Māori featured heavily in the series, which showcased music videos, sports, pranks, interviews and travel around Aotearoa. Hosts over the five years the show was on air included Kimo Houltham, Candice Davis and Mai Time's Olly Coddington.
Tracy Barr succeeded Andrew Shaw and Richard Wilde (Wilkins) as TV2’s afternoon children’s host — first appearing on Tracy’s GTS (Good Time Show) in 1979. The weekly Tracy ’80 followed a year later — with music from a resident band and guests, competitions and field stories. Tracy drew criticism for her Kiwi accent and lack of rounded vowels (as Karyn Hay would a few years later) and for her wriggling, but viewers didn’t seem to mind. Tracy ’80 was replaced by Dropakulcha in 1981 and then Shazam! (with Phillip Schofield). Tracy Barr now lives in Australia.
Is the Sport of Kings headed for the knackers’ yard? As the racing industry attempts to combat declining numbers of punters, falling stake monies and increasing competition for the betting dollar, the Auckland Racing Club — New Zealand’s oldest — allows a TV crew behind-the-scenes access to its headquarters at the Ellerslie Race Course. This seven part series follows the asset-rich, cash-poor club’s new CEO, young and unproven in the racing industry, as he embarks on a mission to modernise its image and operations, and turn its fortunes around.
Christchurch's The Mainland Touch began, with other regional news shows in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, after the amalgamation of TV One and SPTV in 1980. Early presenters of the often light-hearted Touch were Bryan Allpress and Rodney Bryant who became local institutions. Notable stories included a search for the source of the Avon (now part of the city's folk history); and a popular Christmas Cake Competition, which included a family recipe submitted by Robbie Deans. The regional news shows had bowed out by 1990, having yielded to the Holmes era.
Studio One belongs to a long line of talent shows stretching back to the earliest days of NZ television. In two parts, it featured an original song competition which attracted leading songwriters; and 'New Faces'. The latter was for newcomers to TV, and it introduced novelty acts and brass bands, but was also instrumental in launching the careers of Split Enz, Shona Laing and Space Waltz. Later judges including Howard Morrison, Nick Karavias and Phil Warren could be brutal when they wanted to be — and their catch-cry of "no lurex" became a national mantra.
Long-running kids series Studio 2 screened on weekdays after school on TV2, from 2004 to 2010. It included competitions, cartoons (eg SpongeBob SquarePants), games and interviews, and The Hub website — a pioneering example of transmedia, where presenters and kids could interact. Taking turns as co-presenter were Matt Gibb, Jordan Vandermade, Dayna Vawdrey, and Vicki Lin. Guests included SpongeBob actor Rodger Bumpass and Helen Clark. Produced by Taylormade Media, the show was renamed Studio 2 Live in 2010; a Saturday version screened in 2007.
Oddly Even was the winner of TVNZ's inaugural New Blood Web Series Competition for emerging screen talents. NZ Broadcasting School graduates Isla Macleod and Ashleigh Reid won $100,000 from TVNZ and NZ On Air to turn it into an eight-part web series, after the public voted their pilot episode the best. The comedy centres on chalk and cheese sisters — aspiring health food entrepreneur Liv, and the straight-talking Frankie, who crashes back into Liv's life and demands a room after going AWOL for eight years. Conflict ensues as the sisters can't see eye to eye.