To mark 50 years of television in Aotearoa, TVNZ's Heartland channel picked gems from the archive, and surveyed local TV history decade by decade. Each episode in the series featured an interview with a Kiwi TV personality. In this interview from the 1980s slot, comedian David McPhail chats to Andrew Shaw. McPhail describes his involvement in what Shaw calls the "golden age of comedy" (A Week of It, McPhail and Gadsby). He touches on current affairs, screen chemistry, his famous impersonations of Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, and the catchphrase "Jeez Wayne".
To mark its first 25 years, TVNZ commissioned independent producer Ian Mackersey to chronicle a day in its life as the national broadcaster. Coverage is split between the often extreme lengths (and heights) gone to by technicians maintaining coverage, and the work of programme makers — including the casts and crews of McPhail and Gadsby and Country GP. The real drama is in the news studio during the 6.30 bulletin (with light relief from the switchboard) in this intriguing glance back at a pre-digital, two channel TV age during the infancy of computers.
This teleplay from writer Greg McGee is a satire of prejudice and the market economy set in the grey, divisive atmosphere of early 1980s New Zealand. Kate Harcourt plays the proprietor of Dot's Terminal Cafe, a cantankerous spinster who rails against 'bludgers' and 'foreigners'. One rain-soaked Wellington night, her lumpen clientele decide to stage a small but telling uprising — with the help of a dead mouse. It screened in early 1982, following the breakout success of McGee’s confrontational take on Kiwi conformity: rugby player losing-his-religion play Foreskin’s Lament.
This song and dance special screened in 1985, at the tail end of Rob Guest’s Vegas showman days. Guest was yet to take on his beloved role as the Phantom of the Opera, but his versatility and musical talent is clear. It’s a little cheesy (what entertainment show made at Avalon Studios in the 1980s wasn’t?), but Guest shines as the classy all-round entertainer he was. Singers Yolande Gibson and Jan Lampen join in for a medley of James Bond tunes. Also featured: The New Zealand Māori Chorale, and a leggy version of Kenny Rogers' 'The Gambler' with The Lynette Perry Dancers.
By the mid 1980s Auckland had shifted from city of sails, to city of cranes. In the lead-up to the 1987 sharemarket crash, it was in the grip of "an unprecedented building boom". This 1986 Kaleidoscope report looks at the demolition and development from an architectural angle, as malls and mirror glass transform the city. Interviewees include developer Seph Glew of the (ill-fated) Chase Corporation, and his architects. Architecture critic Mark Wigley rates the BNZ Tower an "insult", but says Auckland's "crude" new buildings have at least provoked debate about what the city needs.
TVNZ's Loose Enz series was a series of 12 stand-alone dramas made in the early 1980s. This episode, directed by television trailblazer Caterina De Nave, chronicles married life for two neighboring couples who have very different relationship dynamics. Mary (a rare starring role for Shirley Duke) is trying to move into the working world now that her kids have grown up, much to the irritation of her controlling husband David. The couple next door have a much more equal relationship. Increasingly dark, this episode is a trenchant criticism of patriarchical mores of the time.
In an age before Rogernomics, well before The Office, there was the afternoon tea fund, Golden Kiwi, and four o'clock closing: welcome to the early 80s world of the New Zealand Public Service. Gliding On (1981 - 1985) was the first locally-made sitcom to become a bona-fide classic. Inspired by Roger Hall's hit play Glide Time, the award-winning series satirised a paper-pushing working life familiar to many Kiwis. This episode features Beryl's non-smoking campaign, Jim's efforts to kick the habit, office sexual innuendo and a much-debated fire drill. "Morning Jim!"
This late 80s game show features couples attempting to build time credits by answering a series of questions. The prices include household appliances and a holiday to “exotic Tahiti”. Hosted by Paul Henry — in his TV debut — Every Second's’ gentle pace is decades removed from the accelerating insistency of Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Weakest Link. Henry fronts with more groaning Granddad jokes than the PC-baiting cheek he’d later become famous for, but early warning signs are there, disguised in a formidable 80s suit and white loafers.
From early teleplay The Evening Paper to the edgy Outrageous Fortune, this episode of 50 Years of New Zealand Television talks drama and comedy. Key players, from actors to executives, recall a host of signposts in the development of storytelling on Kiwi TV screens. John Clarke recalls 1970s sitcom Buck's House; Paul Maunder remembers the drama that likely helped introduce the DPB; and TV executive John McRae recalls worries about the projected cost of global hit Hunter's Gold, and mentioning the word 'placenta' on the first episode of Shortland Street.
This Loose Enz edition sees ambitious young TV ad-man Gary (Rex Merrie) attempt to climb the corporate ladder. His pitch to his old school superiors at a dinner party involves patronising a burgeoning Polynesian market. Open-neck shirts, wide lapels and gold chains represent the aspirational early 80s and bow ties and tartare sauce mark the Rotarian generation of Kiwi Mad Men. When wife Jenny (Alice Fraser) decides to be heard as well as seen, Gary finds his gender stereotypes challenged as much as his business sense. The gabby teleplay was written by Vincent O'Sullivan.