This National Film Unit magazine film meets the NZ team for the 1948 London Olympics as they prepare to depart by boat (accompanied by a manager, and a chaperone for the sole female competitor). Each of the seven members is profiled in this reminder of an era when athletes had day jobs, training was 'several hours a day' and swimsuits looked more like impediments than performance aids. A nicely-shot demonstration of weightlifting technique by Maurice Crow is a highlight. Despite the enthusiasm of Selwyn Toogood's voiceover, the team failed to win any medals.
This classic sports mishap from the 1974 Commonwealth Games sees weightlifter Graham May fall flat on his face after passing out while holding a 187.5kg barbell over his head. Despite the fall May went on to win gold in the super heavyweight (110kg+) division, and weightlifting gained a local profile due to his and the NZ team's success. The mustachioed Kiwi’s face-plant became a staple of blooper reels worldwide: from the long-running 'It's moments like these …' Minties ad campaign to the title sequence for ABC’s Wide World of Sports on US TV. May died in 2006.
This chronicle of the Christchurch Commonwealth Games marked one of the National Film Unit's most ambitious productions. Though a range of events (including famous runs by John Walker and Dick Tayler), are covered, the film often bypasses the pomp and glory approach; daring to talk to the injured and mentioning that most competitors lose. The closing ceremonies of the "friendly games" feature the athletes gathering to — as the official song's chorus put it — "join together". The directing team included Paul Maunder, Sam Pillsbury, and Arthur Everard.
In this TVNZ doco — made for the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games — Keith Quinn looks back at the last time the Games were hosted in New Zealand: Christchurch 1974. Largely an on-field survey peppered with Kiwi athletes’ memories of ‘The Friendly Games’, moments featured include Dick Tayler’s 10,000m victory sprawl, weightlifter Graham May’s face-plant, and the epic 1,500 race between a long-haired John Walker and Tanzanian Filbert Bayi. The NZBC coverage showcased colour television, which had recently launched in New Zealand.
In this reality show Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race), ambushes contestants and bids them to overcome a challenge with limited time (three days) and resources. This episode ditches the self-help aspect and ups the machismo by having a freezing worker, southern shepherd, champion rower, trans-Atlantic race winner, Kiwi league legend, and ex-Mr New Zealand compete in old school elimination challenges for NZ's 'toughest man' title. Future Olympic champ Eric Murray is the young buck wrestling for the hardman mantle with wily Mark 'Horse' Bourneville.
TV series The Deep End saw reporter Bill Manson trying his hand at a variety of tasks, from female impersonator to Robinson Crusoe to captaining a navy frigate. In this episode, Manson is given six weeks to get in shape for a pro wrestling bout. To prepare himself for the dangerous job, 12 stone Manson hits the weights, grapples with wrestling legend Steve Rickard (On the Mat) and works with an acting tutor, barber and promoters on his onstage persona: ‘Doctor Mindbender’. “The thing that scares me," he says, "is just breaking my neck…”
Long before Look Who's Famous Now and 2014's There and Back, TVNZ series Then Again traced its own line from past to present. Hosted by Annie Whittle, the series combined where-are-they-now style interviews with footage from the archives, including that unfortunate weightlifting incident at the 1974 Commonwealth Games. Among the names to feature were sportspeople (Sylvia Potts, Graham May), broadcasters (Colin Broadley, Peter Harcourt) and celebrity quins (the Lawsons).