As part of a 25 Years of Television in New Zealand concert, Kiwi country music great John Grenell returns to his 1964 single ‘Streets of Laredo’. The classic cowboy song has inspired cover versions, parodies and reinventions over more than a century. Grenell dedicates this 1985 performance to “the late and the great Mr Tex Morton” — the Kiwi showman and country music star had passed away two years earlier. Grenell himself was taking an extended layoff from recording; three years later he released album Silver, followed by his beloved version of 'Welcome to Our World'.
From 1996 to 1998 broadcaster Ian Fraser took time out from hosting current affairs, to MC this popular musical talent quest (Fraser, a trained pianist, also tinkled the ivories himself during the series). There were two finals: one assessed by studio judges, and one from viewers' votes. The performers ranged from covers bands to opera singers, from country and western to soul. Future Opshop members Jason Kerrison and Shay Muddle were judged runners-up in 1996 (as Akustik Fungi). Other contestants included Lisa Tomlins, opera tenor Shaun Dixon and actor Stig Eldred.
Sixties talent show Have A Shot began as an Ian Watkins radio slot on 1ZB. The popular TV version began in Auckland in 1961, and expanded to include competitors in Wellington and Christchurch the following year. This final from 1964 sees eight regional winners compete for £300, by performing two prerecorded songs each. The judges are 200 voters from the four main centres. The listening is easy, across genres ranging from folk songs to country ballads. The host is radio veteran John Maybury. Note: the winner is not revealed. Have a Shot was replaced by New Faces in 1965.
By the mid 1970s, Kiwi entertainer Ray Woolf was a regular television presence as a performer and host. After a stint co-hosting chat show Two on One (with Val Lamont and later Davina Whitehouse), the show morphed in 1979 into Woolf’s own singing and talk slot: The Ray Woolf Show, where he interviewed international stars, and sung and filmed clips around the country. After a season the show was reformatted to focus on music as The New Ray Woolf Show, and ran for another two years. In this period Woolf was awarded Best Television Light Entertainer multiple times.
This Kiwi version of the Got Talent franchise scoured Aotearoa "on a mission to find a star". Topping the weekly TV ratings, the TV One series was hosted by weatherman Tamati Coffey, with Rachel Hunter, musician Jason Kerrison (Opshop) and UB40 frontman Ali Campbell as the judges. In this opening excerpt of the 2012 final, the last two contestants are chosen: people’s choice Dudley Fairbrass, and judge’s choice Logan Walker. They join 10 other finalists — including eventual winner, 15-year-old Clara van Wel from Blenheim — to compete for $100,000 and a Toyota Corolla.
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.
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).
After decades as broadcasting's leading MC, Selwyn Toogood was on the receiving end in 1985 when he was This Is Your Life's guest of honour. Bob Parker hosts the former host of It's In the Bag, Beauty and the Beast and innumerable quiz shows. Friends paying tribute to Toogood include former "quiz kid" and future Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt MP, and former Bag hostesses Tineke Stephenson (née Bouchier) and Sue Scott. Also sending greetings are several stars from Coronation Street.
In April 1990, Billy Taitoko James came back from years of ill health, and made a triumphant return to performing his unique brand of music and comedy. It was a last hurrah for James, whose transplanted heart gave out on him the following year, but it's a worthy swansong. His unique brand of humour is captured at its affable, non-PC, best, with Billy T giving everything he's got — every gag is rounded off with his trademark 'bro' laugh — a loudly appreciative audience. NZ On Screen has two excerpts. Guests include Sir Howard Morrison. Read more about Billy T and the show here.
The very last grand final of Homai Te Pakipaki sees ten finalists from across the motu come together to sing their hearts out, with the hope of taking home a $20,000 cash prize (plus phone package). Broadcast live, the raw talent karaoke contest is hosted by Brent Mio and 2008 series winner Pikiteora Mura-Hita, with help from Pakipaki veteran Te Hamua Nikora. The winner is decided by whānau, iwi and the viewers at home via text vote. The guests include 2014 winner Lee Stuart, band Sons of Zion and IDentity Dance Company. There are also short clips of past show highlights.