On the Mat - 17 March 1981

Television, 1981 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the legendary professional wrestling series screened in March 1981. Barry Holland and the late Steve Rickard host (Ernie Leonard has moved behind the scenes into a producer role). Rickard welcomes locals and viewers from Kenya, Hong Kong and Malaysia. On the Mat mainstay Mark Lewin features prominently, appearing in tag action before reminiscing about a fiery battle with King Curtis in Japan. Things don't improve as he's attacked by the Voodoo-crazed Big Mullumba. The main event sees local star Johnny Garcia and Samoan Joe battling it out.

On the Mat - 29 July 1980

Television, 1980 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the legendary pro-wrestling show screened on 29 July 1980. Ernie Leonard and Steve Rickard compere the action at Canterbury Court Stadium. In the first match up Aussie grappler Larry O'Day teams up with local Merv Fortune to take on Kid Hardie and young Ricky Rickard. An excerpt features Brute Miller and Sweet William (later famous as The Bushwackers) against Lu Leota and Samoan Joe; while Jack Claybourne and Ron Miller round out the bill. Billy T James makes an appearance and comments on the authenticity of the in-the-ring proceedings.

The Whistle Blowers

Television, 2004 (Excerpts)

Anna Cottrell's documentary looks at three high profile sports officiators and what makes them tick. Billy Bowden, the showman of international cricket, took up umpiring when arthritis prevented him from playing. Southlander Paddy O'Brien left police to become one of the world's top rugby referees. Pin-up Steve Walsh began refereeing when a neck injury curtailed contact sports. The Whistle Blowers explores the qualities that made them successful sports policemen. After a public battle with alcoholism, Walsh returned to refereeing at the top level in Australia.

Streets of Laredo - performed by John Grenell

Television, 1985 (Excerpts)

As part of a 25 Years of Television in New Zealand concert, Kiwi country music great John Grenell returns to his 1964 single ‘Streets of Laredo’. The classic cowboy song has inspired cover versions, parodies and reinventions over more than a century. Grenell dedicates this 1985 performance to “the late and the great Mr Tex Morton” — the Kiwi showman and country music star had passed away two years earlier. Grenell himself was taking an extended layoff from recording; three years later he released album Silver, followed by his beloved version of  'Welcome to Our World'.

The Red Checkers

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

This 1985 TVNZ documentary follows the recruitment of three new pilots into the Red Checkers acrobatic flying squadron of the Royal NZ Air Force. The pilots train to fly formations, loops and low level passes. There are close calls, and interviews with pilots and their spouses. What does it take to be a Kiwi Top Gun? Squadron leader (and future NZ Defence Force chief) Bruce Ferguson: "he's got to have confidence in himself, his abilities and to be a wee bit of a showman." The documentary marked one of the earliest directing credits for Emmy Award-winner Mike Single.  

Rob and Guests

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

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.