This 2000 reality show involved contestants completing challenges and overcoming a planted double agent, in order to avoid elimination and win a $30,000 cash prize. “All they have to do is survive the show and unmask the mole,” says host Mark Ferguson (Spin Doctors, Shortland Street). In this first episode, the group travel to Queenstown to tandem bungee jump, pack each other’s bags, complete a brain teaser, and eat ... before the first elimination. The Kiwi version of a 1998 Belgian format made a 2016 NZ Herald list of New Zealand’s worst ever reality shows.
This TV2 take on The Truman Show sees Hawkes Bay vineyard worker Sam participating in a reality show where – unknown to him – all his housemates are fakes. In this first episode Sam’s flatmates play to the archetypes of reality TV, as host Mark Ferguson sets them ridiculous challenges (eg water bomb wet t-shirt reading). The Spinoff 's Alex Casey called it “a one off, never to be repeated format, and crikey it was good, bad TV.” The cast were only let into the show's secrets after winning their parts. Sarah Thomson ('rich bitch' Tiffany) was later an undercover cop on Shortland Street.
The concept for this 2004 reality series involved 10 bachelors trying to succeed on the Auckland dating scene, while overcoming specially set challenges. Hosted by model Nicky Watson, and produced by Touchdown supremo Julie Christie, this first episode sees Watson pick the 10 (from 15 who began) who will move into the bachelor pad. It introduces the lewd lines, lingerie and phallic fruit that saw The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive describe the show as "an affront to humanity – but man, was it ever fun to watch". Caution: the content from the ‘lads' mag’ era is PC free.
Five strangers give up their freedom to live in the confines of an apartment together in this 2004 reality series. It’s not all for nought though — $40,000 is up for grabs. Alliances are formed and newfound friendships quickly betrayed, as the contestants try to keep things civil with their inescapable roommates. The contestants in this first episode are builder Riki, project officer Marcella, business developer Brett, and students CC and “nice guy” Arron. Retracting walls leading to the quiz area and food delivered in a perspex box remind contestants they are totally trapped.
Satire Futile Attraction follows a dysfunctional reality television crew as they make a show about dating. The unfortunate 'couple' being manipulated for the cameras are a phone-obsessed nerd, and a woman consumed with being ecologically sound. In real life, director Mark Prebble became the first New Zealander to get funding for his movie via an online crowdfunding campaign (as detailed in the making of video). Alongside lead actors Danielle Mason (Black Sheep) and Peter Rutherford (Event 16), the late Alistair Browning shines as a smarmy television host.
In this final episode of the 90s ‘docu-soap’, reality bites for the household of young Aucklanders. Vanessa demands to talk to cameraman/boyfriend/flattie Craig off-camera, and Craig's refusal to do so fails to help things. Geoffrey can’t remember vomiting in the bathroom; there’s frisbee in Cornwall Park and moments of romance; Christian gets a letter from his on/off Finnish girlfriend, and flunks chemistry at uni. But no flat lasts forever and Natasha packs up (taking her freeloading boyfriend with her), before the rest of the flatties go their separate ways.
In the first all celebrity version of Touchdown reality TV hit Treasure Island, 14 marooned contestants must provide food, water, fire, and shelter for themselves on a Fijian island, as they compete to find treasure and avoid elimination. Presented by Pieta Keating — who was runner-up on the original Treasure Island — the "household names" include Olympians and All Blacks (Frank Bunce), model Nicky Watson, actors and TV tradesman John Cocks. Hunger and cheating suspicions soon exacerbate tensions between the teams.
Neighbours at War was a popular and long-running TV2 reality show. In this opening episode from the show’s second series, an Otara fence is a battle line in a bitter territorial dispute between Lois and Alec. The mediator is Labour MP for Otara Ross Robertson, who draws on Winston Churchill, General Douglas MacArthur and aroha in an effort to broker peace — amidst allegations of rubbish and porn mags on one side, and swear words and brown eyes on the other. Narrator Bill Kerton’s puns and some choice sound effects punctuate the neighbourly nastiness.
Bros meets The Bachelor in this hit Māori Television reality show, which was billed as a "hunt for the ultimate Polynesian warrior". The contestants' muscles might look good, but do the personal trainers and dancers have their ancestors’ skills? This first episode tests the 12 entrants in spear throwing, waka portage and hakamoa (Hawaiian wrestling). The show swapped po-faced reality TV conventions for Polynesian humour: dropped lavalavas and tattooed torsos are slathered with innuendo by hosts Pani and Pani (Goretti Chadwick and Anapela Polataivao).
Reality series Tough Act follows first-year students at New Zealand's most famous drama school. In this episode personal lives clash with professional aspirations. The students' first professional production looms. As they rehearse scenes from Shakespeare, distractions are everywhere. Hollie is grieving after news of an accident and class romances are put to the test when partners perform intimate scenes with colleagues. When Sophie sleeps in and misses a rehearsal, she faces serious consequences. The series was nominated for two local awards for Best Reality Series.