Every Second Counts - 8 October 1987

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

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.

Gloss - First Episode

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

Yuppies, shoulder-pads, sports cars and méthode champenoise abound in this cult 'glamour soap'. Gloss was NZ's answer to US soap Dynasty, with the Carrington oil scions replaced by the wealthy Redferns and their Auckland magazine empire. The series epitomised 80s excess, and became something of a guilty viewing pleasure. In this Rosemary McLeod-penned pilot, a 'Remuera Revisited' plot unfolds as Brad Redfern's plans to have a quiet wedding get waylaid by ex-wife Maxine. Schoolgirl Chelsea wags, listens to her Sony Walkman and gets an unorthodox haircut. 

Seekers - I Hope You Know What You're Doing (First Episode)

Television, 1986 (Full Length Episode)

This Wellington-set 80s TV series sees real estate agent Selwyn, TV producer Nardia (early turns from Temuera Morrison and Jennifer Ward-Lealand) and art student Ben (Kerry McKay) as a young trio united by a mysterious invitation. At an antique shop dinner the three adopted children discover that they share a colourful birth mother, before becoming players in a game for a legacy of $250,000 (and more existential prizes). This first episode features ouija boards and a funeral at Futuna Chapel; alongside 80s knitwear, a saxophone score and du jour animated titles. 

It's Academic - 1983 Regional Final

Television, 1983 (Full Length Episode)

It's Academic was an 80s general knowledge quiz show for high school students. Like its intermediate school sibling The W Three Show (aka W3), It's Academic was hosted by Lockwood Smith. With his Cheshire cat's grin the future Speaker of the House pulls questions from the numbered pockets, as teams from Onslow, Wellington and Newlands colleges — seated in the distinctive triangular pod set — compete in the Wellington regional final. At stake are brainiac bragging rights, school pride ... and digital watches, Britannica encyclopedias and handheld calculators.  

Ruby and Rata

Film, 1990 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Originally conceived as a TV series, Gaylene Preston's comedy was a local hit, uplifting recession-era audiences with a plucky misfits saga. Ruby (Yvonne Lawley), an 83 year old trying to dodge a retirement home, rents a room to Rata, a solo mum with sidelines in music and benefit fraud. Rata's son is into arson and shoplifting, while Ruby's nephew (What Now's Simon Barnett) is a hapless yuppie wannabe. Marginalised by the deregulated economy of the 80s and living on their wits, they may just find common cause despite themselves in this Graeme Tetley-penned tale.

The Video Dispatch - 15 December 1983

Television, 1983 (Full Length Episode)

Kids of the 80s will fondly recall this after school current affairs show. Presenter Lloyd Scott was a national celebrity at the time as ‘Scotty’, Barry Crump’s hapless companion in a popular series of ads for Toyota. Items in this last edition for 1983 include traffic safety with radio hosts Lindsay Yeo and Buzz O’Bumble, and the arrival at Auckland Zoo of a pair of Galapagos tortoises (whose faces reporter Jane Dent guesses were inspirations for E.T.). Backed by children from Taita Central School, Scott signs off with ‘Merry Christmas’ in English, Māori and Samoan.

Country Calendar - Cashmere

Television, 1986 (Excerpts)

This excerpt from a 1986 episode of NZ TV’s longest running show comes from the heady pre-crash mid-80s when NZ farming was getting off the sheep’s back and diversifying to stay profitable in changing times. Here Robert Hall is stocking the “hard hill country” of a farm near Taumaranui with goats. Rather than hunting goats as pests, the young industry — fuelled by “large amounts of city money” — is attempting to farm them for their cashmere wool. It offers new opportunities for women in farming, but teething problems include low yields from feral animals. 

Heroes - First Episode

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

Long before the comedy of Flight of the Conchords, Heroes followed the triumphs and pitfalls of a band trying to make it in the mid-80s NZ music biz. It marked the first major role for Jay Laga’aia,  and early lead gigs for Michael Hurst and Margaret Umbers. In this first episode the band gets together as Dave (Hurst) ditches his covers band, flunks a TV audition, and hooks up opportunist flatmate Ron (Laga’aia), synth player Peter (John Gibson, who co-wrote the series music) and bass player Maxine (Umbers). Synth and leopard skin abound.

Fallout - Part One

Television, 1994 (Excerpts)

Written by Tom Scott and Greg McGee, Fallout was an award-winning two-part mini-series about the events leading up to New Zealand's 80s anti-nuclear stand. In this first episode Labour sweeps into power with an anti-nuclear platform. Upon taking office, David Lange (played by Australian actor Mark Mitchell) faces pressure to live up to his campaign rhetoric. In this excerpt, we see the parliamentary cut and thrust leading up to the election, with National MP Marilyn Waring defying Muldoon (Ian Mune) to cross the floor on the Nuclear Free New Zealand bill.

The Haunting of Barney Palmer

Television, 1986 (Full Length)

The Haunting of Barney Palmer is a fantasy film for children about a young boy who is haunted by his great uncle. Young Barney fears that he has inherited the Scholar family curse; a suite of 80s-era effects ramp up the supernatural suspense. The film was a co-production between PBS (United States) and Wellington's Gibson Group, which resulted in Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Network) being cast. It was written by Margaret Mahy, based on her Carnegie Award-winning novel The Haunting, and an early fruitful collaboration between her and director Yvonne Mackay.