'Travellin' On' could be a theme song for veteran musicians everywhere — and blues legend Midge Marsden has recorded this Murray Grindlay song on three occasions. This version is quieter and more reflective, in keeping with the Europa commercial Marsden appeared in during the 1980s (for which Grindlay took lead vocal). Later the pair joined American Stevie Ray Vaughan for a far rockier take. Footage from the various adverts is reprised here, but the blue/gray wash, along with shots of Midge's travels, make this rendition more of a remembrance of a life spent on the road.
This Heartland channel series marked 50 years of television in New Zealand. Each episode chronicled a decade of screen highlights, alongside an interview with a personality who worked in that era. In this excerpt from the 1990s episode, host Andrew Shaw chats to Peter Elliott about his TV career, from painting the floor for Grunt Machine to becoming a high profile actor (Gloss, Shortland Street), and presenter (Captain’s Log). Elliott reflects on the Shortland Street (and Civil Defence advert) curse, and the screen industry’s growing confidence in telling local stories.
If the Wool Board rocked, Steriogram’s ‘Walkie Talkie Man’ video would be the result. It uses wool to create people, instruments and tall buildings. A King Kong-like character scales Hollywood’s Capitol tower to kidnap singer Tyson Kennedy: inevitably, this warm fuzzy has to unravel. The ingenious stop-motion animation was made in New York by Frenchman Michel Gondry (director of feature Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and notable promos for Radiohead and Beck). The video – and the song’s use in an iPod advert – brought Steriogram worldwide exposure.
In this Mo’ Show edition Mark Williams and Otis Frizzell explore Kingston, Jamaica with their tour guide — poet and singer Italee (an appearance that led to her being cast in a series of NZ rum TV adverts). She introduces them to reggae stars Luciano, Dean Fraser and Buju Banton (who, like any good scientist, refuses to disclose the secrets of his work); and a visit to Hellshire Beach allows them to sample its celebrated (and dangerous-looking) Jamaican style fried fish and pastry. After watching Italee perform in a club, the pair take to the stage themselves.
Leigh Hart is known for his offbeat comedy, and sausage adverts. He broke onto the small screen doing interviews for SportsCafe, before launching Moon TV. Hart's parody talk show The Late Night Big Breakfast Show was picked up by online channel Watch Me. In this ScreenTalk Short, Hart talks about how he first ended up on TV, failing to get deep and meaningful on Shock Treatment, going missing during Leigh Hart's Mysterious Planet, and his famous voice.
A magazine show with an edge, The Living Room did for arts television production what Radio With Pictures did for New Zealand music — it ripped open the venetian blinds, rearranged the plastic-covered cushions, and shone the light on Aotearoa’s homegrown creative culture. Often letting the subjects film and present their own stories, it was produced for three series by Wellington’s Sticky Pictures, who would go on to make another arts showcase, The Gravy. Amidst the calvacade of Kiwi talent, Flight of the Conchords and musician Ladi6 made early screen appearances.
Geoff Dixon began making commercials in the 70s — the decade he launched legendary ad company Silverscreen Productions, whose clients included Cadbury, Toyota, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines. Ranging across New Zealand and beyond, his work includes iconic images of South Island back roads, Barry Crump crashing utes through the bush, and Michael Hurst singing a war cry for the Kiwi bloke.
A pioneer of the commercial use of 16mm film in post-war New Zealand, Robert Steele is arguably a lost name in the local screen industry. A portrait photographer who was making amateur films in 1930, he spent several years in his native Australia before returning to NZ for good in 1937. Steele screened his films at workplaces and trade fairs, and was a major producer of commercials in the first decade of Kiwi television.
After acting on award-winning Australian series Love My Way, Stephen Hunter won the part of bumbling dwarf Bombur in Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of The Hobbit. Morrinsville-raised Hunter moved to Australia in 2004, and has written and voiced radio commercials on both sides of the Tasman. Remembered for a memorable journey by flying fox in a Toyota advert, he also acted in Australian comedy Review with Myles Barlow. and crime series Janet King.
John Terris, QSO, moved from radio into television when the new medium hit New Zealand in the early 60s. Starting as a continuity announcer, he went behind the scenes, directing on the first seasons of TV staples Country Calendar and Town and Around. In 1978 the one time Hutt City mayor began 12 years as Labour MP for Western Hutt, including time as the deputy speaker. These days Terris heads advocacy group Media Matters.