The opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television travels from an opening night puppet show in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ On Air, Sky and Māori Television). Many of the major players are interviewed. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within the story.
In the early 80s Ready to Roll was NZ’s premier TV pop show. It emerged in the pre-music video boom mid-70s hosted by Roger Gascoigne (and later Stu Dennison) with bands and dancers live in the studio. By the early 80s it was a seamless video clip Top 20 countdown — introduced by the Commodores pumping ‘Machine Gun’ — and appointment Saturday evening viewing for music fans (and a regular in the week’s Top 10 rating shows). It then evolved into a brand, spawning a number of RTR offshoots (Mega-Mix, Sounz and New Releases), before disappearing in the mid-90s.
TV1 celebrated Christmas by throwing most of its big names into this 1977 comedy/variety show. Ringleaders Roger Gascoigne and Nice One Stu's Stu Dennison are joined by a cavalcade of newsreaders hiding under Santa beards. Among the loopy 70s oddities on show: Brian Edwards in school uniform, channelling The Goons; Selwyn Toogood doing an It's in the Bag sketch that would nowadays likely be deemed too un-PC to make it to air; plus racehorse expert Glyn Tucker talking reindeer races. Madcap band Mother Goose also appear.
Stu Dennison hosted TV One's children's show Nice One from 1976 to 1978, making the catch phrase "Nice one, Stu" a part of NZ TV legend. This 1978 Christmas show, and final ever Nice One programme, branched out from the show's usual after-school interstitials length to a half-hour special featuring series regulars such as singer/songwriter Steve Allen, and chef Alison Holst (look out for her son and now business partner Simon as a young boy, in their Christmas cooking segment). Stu's corduroy flares and waistcoat ensemble is a 70s delight to behold.
After-school show Nice One was a popular classic of NZ childrens television, with the show's signature theme tune ("Nice one Stu-y!") and Stu's thumbs-up salute, totemic for kids of the 70s. Host Stu Dennison played a cheeky, long-haired schoolboy who delighted children and infuriated adults with his irreverent antics. But Dennison developed the persona in short live segments for Ready to Roll (shot live at Avalon Studios, excerpted here). Prototype Stu is seen being a truant, reciting rude poetry, singing 10cc and ribbing Roger Gascoigne and 70s metrosexuals.
Nice One has become a legend in New Zealand children's TV: with the show's signature theme tune ('Nice one Stu!') and Stu's thumbs-up salute, totemic for kids of the era. On the show, host Stu Dennison played a cheeky pony-tailed schoolboy who delighted children and infuriated adults with his irreverent antics. Dennison developed the persona in live segments on Ready to Roll, before transporting him to his own after-school programme, filmed at Avalon Studios for TV One. Nice One also featured cooking (with Alison Holst), craft, singing and plenty of humour.
Olly Ohlson inspired a generation of kids as presenter of five day a week show After School. His legendary catchphrase 'Keep cool till after school' is still remembered by many.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Live to air on weekend mornings since 1981, it is a Kiwi kids' TV institution. This Christmas Special sees presenters Simon Barnett, Jason 'The Ace' Gunn, and Cath McPherson larking it up with guests (Cath's Scottish Uncle Bob, Constable Keith and Sniff the Dog, The Wizard of Christchurch, the NZ 'Young Guns' cricket team) and in oddball summer and Christmas tales. Eddie and Fifi do decorative DIY. Check out the stone-wash denim and Barnett's frosted tips and lycra shorts.
Roger Gascoigne owns the most talked about wink in the history of New Zealand television. Gascoigne's work in continuity, music and quiz shows (on everything from Ready to Roll to Telethon) saw him snare two Feltex Awards and a legion of fans. In the 80s he went on to co-host regional magazine show Today Tonight.
Rex Simpson has helped create a run of classic Kiwi children's shows. The former teacher joined state televison in 1976 as a presentation director. He established popular afternoon slot Nice One with Stu Dennison, before joining the Children's Department as a director and producer. In 1981 he created long-running Saturday show What Now? In 1988 he left TVNZ to set up a children's department at new channel TV3 — he was co-creator of TV3's InFocus, for which kids made much of the content. Simpson went on to form his own company, Kids TV in 1991, and later did time as a radio announcer and local body politician.