Howard Morrison visits France for the first time in this two-part Kiwi production, made to mark the bicentenary of Bastille Day. His tour of French culture begins on the Champs-Élysées on the big day itself, then ranges from Napoleon to Notre Dame, with visits to the Musée de l’Homme to see taonga, plus crepe-flipping and Parisian cabaret (where he belts out a song onstage). When the Māori leaves Metro range, it’s fishing in Neuvic and ‘Pokarekare Ana’ accompanied by accordion. In Corrèze he meets another Kiwi, and uses a minitel (an early version of the world wide web).
As soon as the guitar line of 'Blue Lady' sparks up, the sea of perms, sweaty denim and cigarettes starts jumping. The Legionnaires (Hello Sailor reincarnated) were one of several top Kiwi bands to record live Radio With Pictures specials at Auckland's Mainstreet Cabaret during the 1980s. Their eight-strong set list contains bonafide hits like 'Blue Lady' and Graham Brazier's ode to his Liverpudlian roots, 'Billy Bold'. Another highlight is a moody rendition of 'Remember The Alamo' from guitarist and singer Dave McArtney's Pink Flamingos' catalogue.
Onehunga born jazz and cabaret singer Ricky May hosts his own NZ TV special after 20 years of performing in Sydney. With help from special guests including Norman Erskine, Susan Dalzell and Jamie Rigg, May turns in polished big band versions of standards including ‘Running Bear’, ‘Hit The Road Jack’ and ‘Mack the Knife’. The show is long on music and short on patter, but May does talk about how he explains his Maori heritage to overseas audiences — and he acknowledges those origins with a medley of ‘Pokarekare Ana’ and ‘Hoki Mai’. Ricky May died in 1988.
This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars took the competitive community spirit of Top Town to the dance floor, with dancers twirling and dipping in sequinned spandex for the ‘Top Dance City’ trophy. Hosted by radio personality Lindsay Yeo, this 1982 final follows the foxtrot and samba at Wellington’s Majestic Cabaret. Beside regional bragging rights, winners take home a Pye Vidmatic 10 inch TV. The Northern Ballet Company (the one from Auckland, not the company from Leeds) interrupt proceedings for a Venusian space travel interlude that won't soon be forgotten.
This posthumous series — produced by Ginette McDonald — collects segments from Billy T’s long running skit based comedy series. Some of his most cherished creations are here: the giggling Te News newsreader, Cuzzy in his black shorts, and the chief bemused by Captain Cook. Support comes from a seasoned cast including Peter Rowley, David Telford and Roy Billing (with cameos from Bob Jones and Barry Crump). Some of these skits are essentially elaborate setups for one line jokes but Billy T’s infectious warmth and good humour inevitably carry the day.
Two expat Kiwis return home from the United Kingdom in this episode of Coming Home — Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien, and renowned opera tenor Patrick Power. Power returns for work: he’s performing two demanding roles in Pagliacci and Cavalleria rusticana in Auckland. O’Brien’s visit is far more relaxed, visiting old haunts, his siblings and a former employer. Despite the pair espousing love for their UK residences, both fall victim to that irresistible allure of home. O'Brien, a British citizen raised in Aotearoa, was finally granted citizenship in 2011.
Having made a comeback after heart surgery in 1990, legendary entertainer Billy T James passed away in August 1991. Four years later that anniversary was commemorated with Billy T James - A Celebration. Hosted by Pio Terei, the special highlights some of Billy’s best moments of both comedy gold, and his vast talents as musician. Interviews with Billy T and his colleagues (including showband veteran Robbie Ratana, comedian Peter Rowley, and screen wife Ilona Rodgers) offer insight into the real man behind arguably New Zealand’s most beloved entertainer.
From a lost era of light entertainment comes this episode of an early 80s song and dance series whose ensemble included Suzanne Lee, Richard Eriwata, Vicky Haughton and a pre-Shortland Street Maggie Harper. The cast pay tribute to the Harlem songs of Fats Waller and George Gershwin, while special guest Kim Hegan provides a sitar performance. The final segment takes songs including 'I'm a Woman', 'Bare Necessities' and 'Putting on the Ritz', and somewhat improbably blends them into an all new "mini-musical" featuring Tarzan, Jane and a Hollywood producer.
In April 1990, Billy Taitoko James came back from years of ill health, and made a triumphant return to performing his unique brand of music and comedy. It was a last hurrah for James, whose transplanted heart gave out on him the following year, but it's a worthy swansong. His unique brand of humour is captured at its affable, non-PC, best, with Billy T giving everything he's got — every gag is rounded off with his trademark 'bro' laugh — a loudly appreciative audience. NZ On Screen has two excerpts. Guests include Sir Howard Morrison. Read more about Billy T and the show here.
With his soulful pop and sexually ambiguous image, Mark Williams was a sensation in 1975 as he topped the singles chart with 'Yesterday Was Just The Beginning Of My Life' and followed it with NZ's best selling pop/rock album of the decade. By 1979, he was based in Australia but he returned home to record this TVNZ special in a Wellington night club. The image is toned down but, backed by a seasoned band, Williams puts in an energetic and polished performance (which includes 'Yesterday' and his other number one 'It Doesn’t Matter Anymore').