Pulp Sport began life in 2001 as a radio show, the brainchild of copywriters Ben Boyce ('Ben') and Jamie Linehan ('Bill'). Then it moved to television, initially made in an Auckland backyard. After two seasons on Sky, it moved to TV3 and won two Qantas Awards for Best Comedy. The show was wayward, fast-moving and skit based (but not limited to sports). The presenters risked life and limb, while guest celebrities happily sent themselves up. Guerrilla shoots — at the expense of bewildered passersby, security guards and fellow TV hosts — were also a show staple.
Presented by Phil Keoghan shortly before he left for the US (later to achieve fame as host of Amazing Race) Short Sportz was a early 90s TV3 sports show encouraging kids to get involved in sports. It looked at sports news and science and profiled established and rising stars (including young Wainuiomata rugby league star Tana Umaga). Keoghan often kitted up himself Paper Lion-style, to capture the thrill of the game, including hurtling down the luge, paragliding, taking pitches from the Black Sox, and cycling with future ironman champion Cameron Brown.
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.
Legendary professional wrestling TV show On the Mat ran from 1975 until 1983. Each half-hour show featured wrestling matches accompanied by commentary - promoter Steve Rickard described the technical in-the-ring aspects and Ernie Leonard, and later Barry Holland, added colour. The larger-than-life wrestlers were a mix of US imports and local characters: King Curtis, Samoan Joe, Aussie Larry O'Day, Rick Martel, and Sweet William and Brute Miller (soon famous in the US as The Bushwackers). The show was the catalyst for the boom in popularity of Rickard's pro-wrestling tour.
This four-part series from 1996 presents the game of rugby as a mirror for New Zealand social history. Written by Finlay Macdonald, it sets out to explain how rugby became such an intrinsic part of New Zealand's identity. Each episode visits iconic paddocks (from schools to stadiums) and players (from amateurs Nepia, Meads, and Shelford, to professional star Lomu); and observers muse on the influence of the inflated pig's bladder on Kiwi culture, including historian Jock Phillips, writer Ian Cross and journalist TP Mclean.
The Marching Girls is the seven-part story of a Taita social marching team who decide to have a crack at the North Island Championships. This pioneering series was conceived by actor-writer Fiona Samuel out of frustration over the dearth of challenging female roles: she declared that it was about time the Kiwi "alienated macho dickhead" shared some screen time with women. Synth-rock soundtracks, ghetto blasters, Holden Kingswood taxis and chain-smoking abound in this feminist-Flashdance-in-formation 80s classic.
This long-running, hour-long Māori Television sports show saw presenters and sports stars korero in front of a studio audience. The show won a cult audience thanks to its easy-going style, mixing studio action (music, demonstrations) with light-hearted field shoots (eg Brofessionals). Catchphrase "Mean Māori Mean" entered the culture. Ringleaders included Jenny-May Clarkson (née Coffin), Wairangi Koopu, and Liam Meesam, and superstars like Sonny Bill Williams relaxed on the Code couch. The show won Best Sports Programme at the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards.
Producer Ric Salizzo followed a series of All Black tour videos with this popular long-running live show. The Sky Sport (later TV2) series featured interviews and skits, and gathered a loyal following for its recipe of sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls (and tension between larrikin ex-All Black Marc Ellis and co-host Lana Coc-Kroft). Other members of the circus that Salizzo tried to wrangle included That Guy (Leigh Hart), Eva the Bulgarian (Eva Evguenieva), Graeme Hill, and the Human Canonball (Ben Hickey). The show made a brief comeback in 2008.
Clash of the Codes was a show that pitted teams representing various sports against each other in a series of physical challenges (obstacle courses, mud runs and stair climbs etc). In the made-for-TV battle for code bragging rights the traditional heavyweights (rugby, rowing) were challenged by strivers from the newer codes (eg. Olympic canoeing champ Ian Ferguson, Coast to Coast multisporter Steve Gurney, and young then-unknown triathlete Hamish Carter). Four series were made; the first three were hosted by Simon Barnett and the last by Robert Rakete.
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.