The concept behind this game show is that contenders can't hide their nerves. They're wired up to a heart-rate monitor and given a "redline rate" that is 70% above their resting heart rate. If their heartrate goes over the line the contestant starts losing money and can't answer questions until their heart slows down again. Hosted by ex-rugby and league player Matthew Ridge, The Chair was a big-budget, big-event format that was made first in New Zealand and proved a significant export success for Touchdown (now Warner Bros.) selling to 29 territories.
This series centred on a weekly TV current affairs programme in mid-90s Wellington. Katie Wolfe stars as stroppy journalist Amanda Robbins: lured back from Australia for her tabloid style in an effort to boost the show's ratings. Tackling timely storylines and shot ‘handheld’ in the NYPD Blue-inspired style, the TV3 series was well reviewed but faced its own ratings struggles (a later series screened on TV One). It was Gibson Group’s second foray into producing a TV drama series, after Shark in the Park. A pre-Lord of the Rings Fran Walsh was a series writer.
After 15 years on TV One, Paul Holmes left his high-rating slot for rival network Prime. New half-hour show Paul Holmes debuted in February 2005, but poor ratings meant it lasted only six months. The following April, Prime debuted the hour-long Holmes, which concentrated on longer interviews with people from business, the arts, sports and politics. Holmes argued the format allowed him the “opportunity to find out what makes the guests tick”. He called it “a style of broadcasting that has been missing from the New Zealand television landscape for a number of years”.
For three seasons, The GC followed young Māori living on Australia’s Gold Coast: partying, keeping buff and chasing dreams (from rap stardom to owning a gym). The GC was a ratings success, particularly among Māori viewers, but won controversy over how much Māori content it contained. After two seasons on TV3, a third season screened on Channel Four. Executive produced by Julie Christie, The GC was compared to American reality hit Jersey Shore. Creator Bailey Mackey (Code) told ScreenTalk in 2013 that "The GC doesn’t represent Māori as a whole, it’s just a slice of who we are."
Mortimer’s Patch was a popular drama series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) at work in the town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots; Don Selwyn is Sergeant Bob Storey. The series was NZ’s first police drama, and a rare local drama to top ratings. Mortimer's Patch was made when the archetype of the ‘community cop’ everyone knew was still a powerful one, and it was a counterweight to the faceless riot policing of the Springbok Tour. Three series were made.
This was New Zealand's first big historical drama after the controversy over the cost of The Governor almost a decade earlier. Over seven episodes — set between 1895 and 1914 — it followed the life of Dunedin barrister Alf Hanlon, focussing on six of his most important cases. British actor David Gwillim played Hanlon, while Australian Robyn Nevin was cast as convicted baby murderer Minnie Dean in the first and most celebrated episode. A major critical, ratings and awards success, it immediately recouped its budget when the Minnie Dean episode spurred a big international sale.
Off the Rails was a 12-part journey through the railway memories of New Zealand, with raconteur Marcus Lush at the wheel. With a trainspotter's reverence for ways rail, the beautifully shot, and gently wry travelogue guided viewers around (with thanks to the Raurimu Spiral) the heart of Aotearoa. Off the Rails’ award-winning achievement was to show that energetic storytelling (Super 8 footage, contemporary pop score and snappy editing), combined with the homespun charms of local subject matter, could make for high-rating television.
From the school of "don't try this at home" television, this Touchdown Productions-devised show put extreme sports in primetime for two series with presenters including Lana Coc-Kroft, Brent Todd and Wendy Botha-Todd (then husband and wife), and comedian Phil Vaughan running, jumping, riding, climbing and generally risking life and limb in the interests of adrenaline and ratings. A third series, produced by TVNZ, saw Coc-Kroft joined by the lycra-clad Extreme Team of models and athletes Jayne Mitchell, Emma Barry, Katrina Misa and Nicola Brighty.
In this five part series, photographer, conservationist and publisher Craig Potton is a New Zealand coast tour guide. Each episode focuses on a region, taking in scenic splendour, while celebrating and taking the pulse of its biodiversity. Along the way Potton frames photos and meets the coasters: from scientists, sailors, swimmers and artists, to iwi, boaties and bach owners. As well as presenting, Potton conceived and wrote the series, produced by South Pacific Pictures. Wild Coasts followed the award-winning and ratings success of Potton’s 2010 series Rivers.
This 2002 Touchdown series followed rangers working for the Department of Conservation and Ministry of Fisheries. The series covered work with threatened species — ranging from kākāpō, kiwi and native lizard recovery programmes, to Hector’s dolphin in marine reserves. Other episodes included management of Abel Tasman National Park, and mountain rescue work at Aoraki/Mount Cook. Ten 30 minute episodes screened on TV One. According to the Department of Conservation's annual report for 2002, the series attracted high ratings and received excellent reviews.