By 1973, Night Sky had been a familiar presence on New Zealand screens for 10 years; with astronomer Peter Read a knowledgeable, no-nonsense interpreter of developments in the space race and the stars. In this episode, Read reflects on the show’s first decade, from its first outing in June 1963 (when it was briefly called The Sky This Month). Read revisits highlights including the total solar eclipse in 1965, interviews with visiting astronauts, the first moon landing in 1969, and a visit to the United States to witness the launch of Apollo 15.
Strawpeople Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney took themselves to Hong Kong (with guest vocalist Leza Corban) for this video. Corban's jazzy vocal and the chilled beats contrast with the hustle and bustle of the cityscape (still under the flight path of Kai Tak airport at the time). The trumpet is courtesy of Greg Johnson and the sampled voice is Richard Nixon talking to the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. Co-written by Tierney and Casserly with Anthony Ioasa, Sweet Disorder won the 1995 APRA Silver Scroll for songwriting, plus the songwriting gong at the 1996 NZ Music Awards.
Ray Ruawhare has worked on effects and animation for everything from NZ On Air's Eric the Goldfish to movie Predicament. In 2004 he produced From Len Lye to Gollum, a comprehensive documentary on the history of animation in New Zealand. Ruawhare was one of the founders of animation and effects conference AnimfxNZ.
Kip Chapman hit the mainstream via 80 episodes on Shortland Street, playing Waverley's country cousin Eltham Wilson. In 2005 he starred in Cannes-invited short, Nothing Special, as a man whose mother thinks he is Jesus. Award-nominated as "ultimate hedonist" Levi in TV drama The Hothouse, Chapman also acted in The Cult, Top of the Lake and The Brokenwood Mysteries. He has been even busier in theatre: founder of the Auckland Theatre Awards, he co-created globetrotting interactive hit Apollo 13 and Hudson and Halls Live!, and directed acclaimed suffrage musical That Bloody Woman.
A self taught stargazer, Peter Read’s passion for astronomy coincided with a budding television industry and the beginning of manned spaceflight. His programme, Night Sky, played in primetime from 1964; and his avuncular style inspired New Zealanders to look at the stars. It was the country’s longest running TV show when it was cancelled in 1974, and he was the longest serving presenter. Peter Read died in 1981.
Douglas Drury was one of a group of producers who lead an expansion of local television drama at a time — the mid 60s — where New Zealanders rarely saw their own stories on screen. Later, as second in command of state television’s drama department, he helped launch landmark series Pukemanu and initiated NZ's first situation comedy, Buck House. Drury passed away in Australia on 5 February 2016.
Although he may not be keen to do so, Bill Toepfer can claim a place in global television history as the man behind the Popstars reality TV juggernaut. Toepfer has enjoyed a long and accomplished career in New Zealand television, editing and producing hundreds of hours of documentaries and TV specials.