Bill Ralston

Presenter/Television Executive

Bill Ralston is the everyman of New Zealand television, a sometime political correspondent, arts and current affairs presenter, award-winning journalist and head of TVNZ news and current affairs. With fingers in many pies and always ready with a pugnacious opinion, Ralston is one out of the box.

Gallery - Mururoa protest interview with Bill Ralston

Television, 1973 (Excerpts)

In this short Gallery interview — broadcast in June 1973 — Peace Media representative (and future TVNZ news boss) Bill Ralston talks about dwindling supplies for two private vessels that had left Aotearoa, to protest upcoming French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll. Ralston accuses Prime Minister Norman Kirk of being “a little bit heartless” for not assisting. Actually Kirk was realising plans for the HMNZS Otago to join the vigil. Protest yacht Fri was later stormed by French commandos, and the protests made world news. French nuclear testing in the Pacific finally ceased in 1996.

Interview

ScreenTalk Short: Bill Ralston

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Bill Ralston worked for both TVNZ and TV3 during his long media career. He was a TVNZ political correspondent in the era of Muldoon and Lange, then became TV3’s Political Editor. Later he did time as TVNZ's Head of News and Current Affairs.

Interview

Bill Ralston: A lively life in TV news...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Bill Ralston has had a long, varied, and sometimes controversial career in New Zealand's media. He joined South Pacific Television as a news reporter in 1979 and went on to become political correspondent for TVNZ in the era of Muldoon and Lange. Moving to TV3, Ralston was the channel’s Political Editor and hosted a current affairs slot on their nightly news bulletin. Ralston joined the Nightline team and later hosted popular panel discussion show The Ralston Group, then arts/media series Backch@t. In 2003 he became Head of News and Current Affairs for TVNZ.

Collection

Top 40 NZ TV Classics

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection of 40 classic Kiwi TV series offers up images spanning 50 years. The titles range from Gloss to Gliding On, from Olly Ohlson to Nice One Stu, from Ready to Roll to wrestlers. In this special backgrounder, Stuff's James Croot writes about favourite moments of Kiwi TV. The list is in rough chronological order of when each series debuted.

Collection

Kiwi Comedy On TV

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure." 

Bob Jones - Doing God's Work?

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

This Lookout special follows colourful property tycoon Bob Jones hustling on the 1984 campaign trail, and talking up his newly-formed New Zealand Party. The outspoken advocate for free market liberalisation drew crowds at halls across New Zealand. The Rocky theme music shamelessly plays as boxing fan Jones approaches the rostrum. The party was ultimately short-lived and won no seats, but achieved its goal of denying National a third term by splitting the vote. The documentary includes scenes of the libertarian attempting to dictate how television media filmed him.

We Don't Know How Lucky We Are

Fred Dagg, Music Video, 1998

John Clarke created an unofficial Kiwi national anthem when his alter ego Fred Dagg first released 'We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are' in 1975, simultaneously celebrating and poking fun at national pride. This video is a 1998 update of the song, instigated by TV's SportsCafe. Times change, but the recipe remains the same: "good clean ball and for God's sakes feed your backs!" Alongside a roll call of celebrities, politicians and sports stars — Sean Fitzpatrick, Chris Cairns, Zinzan Brooke — Clarke spreads the grateful gospel at the United Nations. 

Backch@t - Bloopers and Highlights (Series Three)

Television, 2000 (Excerpts)

“Here is a taste of the best and worst of Backch@t 2000…goodnight.” Presenter Bill Ralston introduces this reel of outtakes and highlights from the Gibson Group arts series. The creative sector's issues of the day include installing Len Lye’s Wind Wand, arts funding, and arts patron Denis Adam’s thoughts on Te Papa’s arts displays. Ralston, reporters Mark Crysell and Jodi Ihaka, and film reviewer Chris Knox all get tongue-tied; there’s a tiff between two architecture panelists, brief appearances by Ian McKellen and Miriama Kamo, and opera singer Jonathan Lemalu hits a low note.

Series

The Paul Henry Show

Television, 2014

The Paul Henry Show debuted on 27 January 2014, taking over the time slot of Nightline, TV3's oft offbeat late night news show. The new programme marked the headline-grabbing presenter's return to Kiwi television, after time co-hosting Australian show Breakfast. On the first episode, Henry showed Prime Minister John Key photos of Winston Peters and Peter Dunne, then asked him "do you trust this man?" The Paul Henry Show went off air in December 2014, replaced by Newsworthy, with Henry moving to mornings for the high profile launch of cross-platform show Paul Henry.