It's Academic was an 80s general knowledge quiz show for high school students. Like its intermediate school sibling The W Three Show (aka W3), It's Academic was hosted by Lockwood Smith. With his Cheshire cat's grin the future Speaker of the House pulls questions from the numbered pockets, as teams from Onslow, Wellington and Newlands colleges — seated in the distinctive triangular pod set — compete in the Wellington regional final. At stake are brainiac bragging rights, school pride ... and digital watches, Britannica encyclopedias and handheld calculators.
The W Three Show (aka 'W3') was a quiz show for intermediate school children that took its name from the first letter of the questions asked: What, Which, Who, Where or When. Lockwood Smith (future Speaker of the House) was the first quizmaster – he was completing his doctorate in Adelaide at the time and was flown over to do the show. NZ’s grand old man of quiz shows, Selwyn Toogood, and Peter Hawes took over from Smith from the fourth series, while original scorer Annie Whittle dropped out after the first and was replaced by radio broadcaster Relda Familton.
The pressure is on as contestants from Kirkwood, St Bernard’s and Remuera intermediate schools compete in the 1980 final of this children’s quiz show. Future MP, minister and Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith asks the questions, assisted by Relda Familton (a National Radio overnight host until her death in 1995). The finalists, competing for a state of the art colour TV, are quizzed on subjects including geometry, the years 6 BC to 30 AD, Shakespeare quotations, deserts, anatomy, historic England and, appropriately for the quizmaster, cabinet ministers.
Mastermind was big brother to W3 and University Challenge in the pantheon of TVNZ's 80s quiz shows. The format (based on its creator's experience of being interrogated by the Gestapo) was licensed from the BBC and an ice cold Peter Sinclair asked the questions (with none of the bonhomie he allowed himself on University Challenge). Contestants faced two minute rounds on general knowledge and an array of sometimes mind-boggling specialist subjects ranging from Shakespeare, opera and gastronomy, to Winnie the Pooh, tantric yoga and sulphuric acid production.
These clips collect together excerpts from kid's TV icon Thingee's appearances on After School. Thingee, alongside hosts Jason Gunn and Annie Roache, engages in much loopy fun factual madness: he gets into the Christmas spirit with carol singing, discusses his ambitions to be a jet pilot so he can time travel to meet his Mum (courtesy of trans-Atlantic time difference); plans to take over Video Dispatch (as Thingee Dispatch); talks like a pirate, eats worms, burps and wets himself. Check out Gunn's over-sized sunglasses and trademark loud 80s shirts.
Host of weekday kids' programme After School, Olly Ohlson, was the first Māori presenter to anchor his own children's show, and his catchphrase (with accompanying sign language) "Keep cool till after school" is remembered by a generation of Kiwi kids. The show also broke ground in its use of te reo Māori on screen. This episode sees a game of Maorimind (a te reo test based on Mastermind) and the building of a road-sign for the longest place name in New Zealand - a 85-letter te reo gobstopper that Olly rolls out with aplomb: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateatu... etc.
Before he became a politician, Lockwood Smith was king of the quiz show. After dabbling in TV while completing a PhD in Australia, he went on to host teen quiz shows W3 and It’s Academic. Smith squeezed the later show inbetween a marketing job at the NZ Diary Board. An MP for 29 years, four of them as Speaker of the House, Smith spent a decade as a minister. In 2013 he became NZ High Commissioner in London.
Ian Cumming is a producer and director with more than 40 years of television experience. Among the shows he has worked on are the longrunning It's in the Bag and What Now, and the 1974 and 1990 Commonwealth Games. For the last 17 years Cumming has worked in Canterbury regional television.
A proud son of the West Coast, Peter Hawes was a fixture on NZ television in the late 70s and early 80s. After writing for A Week of It, he presented Yours for the Asking, giving free rein to his irreverent wit and fondness for wordplay as he sought answers to viewer questions. Hawes has also written extensively for the theatre and authored a number of well-received novels.