Showcase was a popular mid 90s TVNZ talent quest, in which broadcaster Ian Fraser hosted a search "to find the very best" emerging musical talent. Filmed at Avalon Studios, this viewers' final from 1996 sees nine finalists compete for the public phone vote (there was a separate studio judges’ final). Songs range from Stevie Wonder and Sister Sledge covers to classical standards. Shona Laing, who got her break on a TV talent show, guest performs. Competitor Shaun Dixon went on to train under Pavarotti, and married another finalist from this episode, fellow opera singer Tania Brand.
Hitting television screens in 1961, just a year after the launch of regular TV services in New Zealand, this 30 minute talent show was spawned from Ian Watkins’ popular radio show (on which he memorably used a gun to signal the end of performances). Initially screening on Auckland channel AKTV-2, it became a national talent quest in 1962, with auditions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The following year, 30,000+ viewers used postal voting. Have a Shot was a noted platform for new amateur talent. After a four year run, it was replaced by New Faces.
Brothers Nigel and Jeremy Corbett performed as a musical comedy duo, before joining comedy group Facial DBX (see this interview) and hosting stand-up comedy talent quest A Bit After Ten. Jeremy has achieved further success as a comedian and broadcaster, while Nigel has pursued a career in advertising.
The Grand Final of this 1996 musical talent quest series Showcase was hosted by Ian Fraser. The nine finalists perform songs from Mozart on guitar, to 'Everything’s Gonna Be Alright'. The opening act is Akustik Fungi: Jason Kerrison, one half of the duo, would later find fame as singer for chart-topping band Opshop, and return the favour as a judge on New Zealand’s Got Talent. The Showcase judges are Sir Howard Morrison, actor Rima Te Wiata, Dame Malvina Major (who performs) and Eddie Rayner (who got his break on TV talent show New Faces, while part of Split Enz).
Debuting on TV Four as Tūmeke in 1999, children's show Pūkana was pioneering in its use of te reo. Given a new title when it moved to TV3 in its second year, it later began an epic run on Māori Television. Taking contemporary kids' culture cues, Pūkana features game shows, send-ups, talent quests and music. It emphasises ‘street’ rather than marae-style language. Made by company Cinco Cine, it has won three awards for best show in its category, and two nominations for children’s programme. Past presenters include Mātai Smith, Quinton Hita and Te Hamua Nikora.
Described by writer John Dix as "New Zealand's first television pop idol", Mr Lee Grant won hysterical fans while making regular appearances on 60s music show C'Mon, after winning a radio talent quest. Loxene Golden Disc winner 'Thanks to You' was one of three Grant singles to top the local charts. Born as Bogdan Kominowski to Polish parents in a WWII concentration camp, he reverted to his birth name after relocating to the United Kingdom. His acting career includes a minor part in 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill, and the starring role on an Australasian tour of Phantom of the Opera.
New Zealand’s first global pop success story made one of its earliest screen appearances on this TV talent quest. The episodes are no longer preserved, but a family friend of the Finns pointed his Super 8 camera at the television screen. The clips are combined with the band’s memories from 2005 radio documentary Enzology. Split Ends (the ‘z’ came later) competed in the 18 November heat with ‘129’, and a week later in the final, miming ‘Sweet Talking Spoon Song’. They lost to Wellington's Bulldogs Allstar Goodtime Band, with a pre-Simon Cowell Phil Warren judging the lads “too clever”.
'L'Amour est l'Enfant de la Liberte' became a major 70s smash after it won television talent quest Studio One. Composed by Shade Smith, and sung by his twin brother Gerard, it topped the charts for six weeks in 1971, and became a fixture on Kiwi radio and TV. Sales of over 30,000 copies made it one of the biggest selling local songs of the era. Here, the band revisit freedom’s love child 14 years after birth, with a short rendition for a variety show at Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre. The show was made to mark 25 years of television in New Zealand.
Ardijah's origins lay in a South Auckland nightclub where, in 1980, bass player Ryan Monga spotted singer (and future wife) Betty-Ann at a talent quest. By the late 80s the band's sweet poly funk sound had staked its place in New Zealand's musical landscape, with popular tracks like 'Time Makes a Wine', 'Jammin' and 'Watchin' U'. Numerous accolades and albums have followed and Ardijah have continued to tour their brand of contemporary Aotearoa r'n'b.
Fifteen wannabe comedians combat nerves and a tight deadline in this first episode of talent quest So You Think You're Funny. The first task for judges Jon Bridges, Raybon Kan and Paul Horan is to eliminate five contenders from the line-up. The contestants are given a few days to write and practise a short set, before performing it in front of a live audience at Queen Street's Classic Comedy Bar. This scenario would be terrifying for most, and it confirms a harsh truth that Horan offers early on: "If the audience hates you, there's not a lot we can do'. One hundred people originally auditioned.