This all-singing, all-dancing variety show is remembered as one of NZ TV’s great fiascos (along with Melody Rules). Presenters Glyn Tucker and Ernie Leonard had light entertainment experience, but were better known for their expertise in horse racing and wrestling respectively. Broadcast live on Saturday night, The Club Show aspired to be the TV equivalent of an RSA talent quest — but not even the geniality of its hosts could save it. It did have ‘The Silver Shot’ — an early attempt at interactivity via a viewer on the phone and a blindfolded cameraman.
New Zealand TV and the space race grew up hand in hand. For 11 years, self-taught astronomer and enthusiast Peter Read explained each new development and talked about what could be seen in the heavens on his monthly show Night Sky. A commercial artist by training, Read painted the set’s early backdrops. He made several trips to the USA to witness launches, interviewed visiting astronauts and, with models in hand, broadcast live on the night of the first moon landing. When it was cancelled in 1974, Night Sky was the country’s longest running show.
All Things Being Equal was an early TVNZ sitcom written by future Gloss creator Rosemary McLeod. Screening on Friday nights the 70s gender politics satire was a one-off NZ TV experiment, broadcast live-to-air from Avalon Studios (a second series ditched the live shoot). Ginette McDonald and Bruno Lawrence had made their screen debut together in Pukemanu and were reunited by series director Ross Jennings. When film director Roger Donaldson saw Bruno on the show, it led to Lawrence being cast as Al Shaw in Smash Palace — his career-defining big screen role.
Lotto was first broadcast on 1 August 1987 from Auckland. The live draw was hosted by Doug Harvey and Ann Wilson, and the seven balls (six regulation numbers and a bonus) were picked from 40 by 'The Barrel' — the automated number picker. Lotto is the oldest weekly draw run by the Crown-owned Lotteries Commission; over the years several billions of dollars in profits have been distributed to community projects by the Lottery Grants Board. The draw later moved south to Avalon and presenters have included longtimer Hilary Timmins, Grant Kereama, Grant Walker and Marise Wipani.
Launched in 1992, Marae is the longest running Māori current affairs programme. It aims to keep its audience in touch with the issues — political or otherwise — that affect Māori, and explain kauapa Māori from a Māori perspective. The Marae Digipoll is seen as a respected barometer of matters Māori. Marae was relaunched briefly in October 2010 as Marae Investigates, presented by Scotty Morrison and Jodi Ihaka Marae (and later Miriama Kamo) . Screening on TV One, Marae is presented half in english and half in te reoi. It is now made by company Pango Productions.
Broadcast in the early 1970s — back when local television spanned just a single channel — Living in New Zealand was built around short documentary items. Current affairs was rarely on offer; instead there were pieces on novice skydivers, jetboat adventures, shopping, preparations for Expo 70 in Japan, and singer Phil Garland's search for unrecorded folk songs. An item on national talent quest Search for Stars featured an early screen appearance as interviewer by Ernie Leonard — the future Head of TVNZ's Māori Programming Department.
The Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards were the big fashion event of the year from the mid 60s through to the 90s. The show was organised by Josephine Brody, with a TV version screening later. Model turned agent Maysie Bestall-Cohen organised the ‘B&H’ from 1982. An early 80s screen hiatus ended with TVNZ screening a live-to-air show from 1984 to 1998 — the Michael Fowler Centre event was one of its biggest outside broadcasts. In the later 90s the show was known as the Smokefree Fashion Design Awards (after tobacco company sponsorships were outlawed).
This cult late-night series mixed bogan hijinks and Jackass-like stunts. Chris Stapp and Matt Heath first unveiled stuntman Randy Campbell and host Danny Parker on Auckland community station Triangle Television. The TV2 version of the show centres around a mock live format, with music by house band Deja Voodoo. Car crashes and fight scenes are regular fixtures, and TVNZ did not rush to screen it. The first season played on MTV2 in Europe and Channel V in Australia. A second followed on C4 in 2008. There was also a spin-off movie in 2007, The Devil Dared Me To.
In the Nature of Things saw Christchurch zoologist Ron Walton deliver science lessons to children. Walton (along with Night Sky presenter Peter Read) made made science pop, and was one of NZ’s best known broadcasting personalities of the 60s and 70s, fondly remembered by a generation of Kiwi kids. His fame saw him endorse everything from microscopes to Pye TV sets. From a gentler time, well prior to the pyrotechnics of MythBusters, Things was one of the few NZBC products from the era that screened internationally, selling to the US and a host of other countries.
This 'docu-soap' put six 20-somethings into a rented house for three months — including a beauty contestant and a live-in cameraman. It was one of a series of 90s reality shows observing homelife which were soon to become a phenomenon, thanks to Big Brother. But without a lockdown or 24-7 surveillance, Flatmate's charms were more quaint, offering a homespun twist on MTV's pioneering The Real World (which debuted in 1992). The show was broadcast on now-defunct channel TV4, and made a minor celebrity of outspoken flattie Vanessa.