Burton Silver

Writer, Inventor

Burton Silver has presented persuasive evidence that cats can paint, dogs can be remote-controlled, and hedgehogs can worry. Despite his supple comedic sense, much of this evidence has been accepted wholesale. Silver began by creating long-running Listener cartoon Bogor, about a hedgehog and a woodsman. He also wrote 1981 TV fantasy The Monster's Christmas, and was a key player behind a series of beloved hoax Country Calendar episodes. Since then he has written global bestsellers about cats that dance and paint, and invented a new sport: GolfCross, a variation on golf that's played with an oval ball.

Interview

Burton Silver - Funny As Interview

Burton Silver has created comic strips about dope-smoking hedgehogs and books about artistic cats. He also operated some remote-controlled canines on Country Calendar.

Collection

Kiwi Ingenuity

Curated by NZ On Screen team

'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.

Collection

More Legendary NZ TV Moments

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates more of the legendary TV moments that Kiwis gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our tea over. In the collection primer Paul (Eating Media Lunch) Casserly chews on rapper Redhead Kingpin’s equine advice to 3:45 LIVE! and mo’ memorable moments: from a NSFW Angela D'Audney to screen folk heroes Colin McKenzie and the Ingham twins.

Collection

The Most Legendary NZ TV Moments

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Forget who shot JR or what was under the hatch ... where were you when Thingee's eye popped out, 'O' was for 'awesome', or Bob "stormed out of the bracken like a yeti" to bop Rod in the 'Tumble in Taupō'? From Wainuiomata to Guatemala this Top 10 presents the most viewed clips from the previous NZ On Screen Legendary Moments collections (in descending order). 

The Monster's Christmas

Television, 1981 (Full Length)

No ordinary Christmas tale, The Monster’s Christmas throws viewers into a world of friendly creatures, talking hot pools and witches with gym equipment in their cave lairs. Child find Lucy McGrath revels in the role of a plucky girl who encounters a one-eyed monster with smoke billowing from his head. The monsters need her help to steal their voices back from an evil witch. The stylings of the live action creatures were influenced by the volcanic North Island locations, and designed by Janet Williamson and cartoonist Burton Silver. Yvonne Mackay (Kaitangata Twitch) directs.

Series

Funny As: The Story of New Zealand Comedy

Television, 2019

Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan. 

Country Calendar - Rural Fashions

Television, 1978 (Full Length Episode)

Designer Garnet Nelson has a distinctive attitude to fashion for the rural sector, showcased in a range of clothes combining style and practicality — although the after five combinations may be a step too far. This might be one of the celebrated Country Calendar spoof episodes, but the buy-in from models who could only be farmers and not actors is a sight to behold. And the fashion tips don't end there. Reporter (and long time Country Calendar producer) Frank Torley adds his own sartorial note with an unfeasibly long shirt collar that has a mind of its own.

Country Calendar - Spoofs Special

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

Ask Country Calendar viewers which shows they remember and inevitably the answer is "the spoofs" — satirical episodes that screened unannounced. Sometimes there was outrage but mostly the public enjoyed having the wool pulled over their eyes. Created by producer Tony Trotter and Bogor cartoonist Burton Silver, the first (in late 1977) was the fencing wire-playing farmer and his "rural music". This special episode collects the best of the spoofs, from the infamous radio-controlled dog, to the gay couple who ran a "stress-free" flock, and more malarkey besides.

Flight of Fancy

Short Film, 1987 (Excerpts)

This whimsical film starring New Zealand artist Michael Smither, animal wrangler Caroline Girdlestone, and cartoonist Burton Silver, documents Smither's quest to learn to fly. It is a documentary in the accepted sense but lyrical and full of surprises. Made by Wellington filmmaker Tony Hiles, edited by Jamie Selkirk (future Oscar winner for The Return of the King), and gorgeously shot on location at Farewell Spit and Wharariki Beach. Smither is well known for his idiosyncratic realist paintings, such as Rocks With Mountain.