Although made to showcase female singers, late 60s series A Girl to Watch Music By is possibly best remembered for the moment Ray Columbus became a puppet. In this episode host Columbus played ventriloquist's dummy, sitting on Max Cryer's knee. Wrote Cryer later in his book Town Cryer: "it looked very funny and we knew it and set to work on the choreography immediately." The song is called 'Where Would You Be Without Me'. The ventriloquist idea, which would be repeated again on rare "special occasions", was the brainchild of broadcaster Cherry Raymond.
American-born ventriloquist David Strassman was the star of a self-titled show on TV2. These blooper clips from the Strassman Unplugged special see him and his puppets Chuck Wood, Ted E Bare and Sid Beaverman mocking each other as they get their lines wrong. However this isn't just a collection of missed lines — Chuck Wood goes heavy on the expletives to the studio audience and Ted E Bare has a bit of trouble wrangling his props. The show was made for TVNZ; Strassman has also appeared on television in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This TV2 promo is a cover of Sonny and Cher classic ‘I Got You Babe’. A roll call of turn of the century Kiwi celebrities take turns performing, starting with late actor Kevin Smith and actor/sometime Strawpeople singer Stephanie Tauevihi. Other stars include Jay Laga’aia, Havoc and Newsboy, Erika Takacs from band True Bliss, What Now? hosts, Shortland Street's Katrina Devine, and Spike the penguin from Squirt. Also popping by are Bart and Lisa from The Simpsons, and Aussie Portia de Rossi (then appearing on American show Ally McBeal). The promo was made by Saatchi & Saatchi.
In 2010 TVNZ’s Heartland channel celebrated the 50th anniversary of television in New Zealand by producing a decade by decade survey. This interview, taken from the 1960s instalment, sees the late Ray Columbus interviewed by Andrew Shaw. The pioneer of pop music in New Zealand reflects on the role that TV played in his career, from Club Columbus to C’Mon, to co-creating That’s Country. He muses on being a pop star in front of the camera, and working behind the scenes in television. Shaw asks him to rate the best song he’s recorded and his best TV performance.
This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.
Ventriloquist David Strassman has appeared on talk shows and TV specials in Aotearoa, Australia, the United Kingdom and his native United States. Strassman's first TV series debuted in Australia in 1998; the next year Strassman played on British network ITV. The basic formula of a chat show hosted by a man and a shameless puppet was then carried over to New Zealand. Strassman's alter egos include the irascible Chuck Wood and the cuddly Ted E Bare. Among his local guests were Kiwi TV personalities (Mike King, Robyn Malcolm) and the occasional musician and politician.
The trademark warm, jangling sound of veteran Flying Nun band The Bats masks a Robert Scott lyric about emotional numbness on this song from their debut album Daddy's Highway. Director Jonathan Ogilvie's clip features a chainsaw of Damocles and the ventriloquist's dummy from the album cover — and a poignant Christchurch location. The distinctive, triangular ANZ Bank Chambers (where the band members play on the balconies) and surrounding buildings at the intersection of Manchester, High and Lichfield streets were devastated in the city's earthquakes.
Purveyor of good grammar and master of words, Max Cryer has had an extensive career in the New Zealand entertainment industry.
David Brechin-Smith is an award-winning screenwriter. Nominated for Lovebites and The Strip, he won awards for The Insider's Guide to Happiness and prequel The Insiders Guide to Love. He created and wrote drama series The Hothouse and worked on thriller series The Cult. Teen comedy-drama series Paradise Café and movie The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell are also among his credits.