Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans.
Before X Factor there was New Faces, before Masterchef ... Graham Kerr, before Country Calendar there was ... er, Country Calendar. This collection picks the screen gems from the decade that gave Kiwi pop culture, "miniskirts, teenagers — and television." Peter Sinclair, Sandy Edmonds, Howard Morrison, and Ray Columbus star. Do your mod's nod and C'mon!
This July 1977 Seven Days report tunes in to Radio 1XX Whakatane, NZ’s then-smallest private radio station. Coastline Radio has been giving the Eastern Bay of Plenty its own MOR voice for six years. Seven Days reveals tensions between DJs in cut-throat jousting for spots. On-trial Breakfast DJ John Adeane describes his job as “personality projection” as he chugs on a Camel and rouses “the country giant”. He warns of the danger of being “an attractive proposition to the girls in town”, and describes behind the scenes activities during the religious programming.
In an age before Rogernomics, well before The Office, there was the afternoon tea fund, Golden Kiwi, and four o'clock closing: welcome to the early 80s world of the New Zealand Public Service. Gliding On (1981 - 1985) was the first locally-made sitcom to become a bona-fide classic. Inspired by Roger Hall's hit play Glide Time, the award-winning series satirised a paper-pushing working life familiar to many Kiwis. This episode features Beryl's non-smoking campaign, Jim's efforts to kick the habit, office sexual innuendo and a much-debated fire drill. "Morning Jim!"
In 1993, advice show Dilemmas introduced a new host to replace Australian GP Kerryn Phelps. With Marcus Lush at the helm, this episode features panelists Ginette McDonald, Alice Worsley and George Balani. Among the troubles the group deal with are an anonymous phone call about an affair, and a self-professed "nice guy" who can’t hold a date. Lush gets briefly distracted by an abundance of pens on his desk, before the team touch on problem smoking in the office and George Balani, resplendent in novelty Bugs Bunny tie, suggests calling in the Mongrel Mob.
Kiwi music legends Toy Love are credited with leading the NZ post-punk sound, delivering a sonic flare from 1979 that scaled charts and smashed Sweetwaters watermelons, before the love ended on a late 1980 NZ tour. In this February 1980 interview for regional show The South Tonight, the band is seen in their Dunedin hometown, preparing for a show at The Captain Cook Tavern. Reporter Keith Tannock asks Chris Knox what he’s rebelling against as the singer chugs a double-barrelled ciggie, and casts shade on boring pub rock music. The band would shortly depart for a stint in Sydney.
As soon as the guitar line of 'Blue Lady' sparks up, the sea of perms, sweaty denim and cigarettes starts jumping. The Legionnaires (Hello Sailor reincarnated) were one of several top Kiwi bands to record live Radio With Pictures specials at Auckland's Mainstreet Cabaret during the 1980s. Their eight-strong set list contains bonafide hits like 'Blue Lady' and Graham Brazier's ode to his Liverpudlian roots, 'Billy Bold'. Another highlight is a moody rendition of 'Remember The Alamo' from guitarist and singer Dave McArtney's Pink Flamingos' catalogue.
If nothing else, Supergroove are evidence that in New Zealand, it’s not just our top sportspeople who wear all black. Luckily, they are a lot more than just that, as evidenced in this video for their guitar heavy hit You Freak Me. As the band rock out on stage, chaotic footage combines close ups, strange camera angles, and constant flashing lights amongst the haze of smoke machines and cigarettes. Not all heavy, the song features a brief funky interlude before a rare burst of hostility from the typically calm Che Fu.
In New Zealand for his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour, David Bowie stops for a cigarette with Radio with Pictures, to talk about past, present and future projects. Bowie mentions recording hit album Let’s Dance in three weeks, and briefly touches on mysterious music and screen projects, and the "very funny" Ziggy Stardust concert film. Also mentioned: his opinions on Jagger versus McCartney, his desire to work again with Iggy Pop, and how he feels about making the cover of Time magazine. The interview is bookended with brief footage of Bowie's opening number at Athletic Park.
Galaxies away from images of tar-addled lungs on cigarette packets, this film offers an unusual public health message about smoking. Set to rhyming couplets, the plasticine hero tries out to see if he has the right stuff to fly a rocket to Venus. There he battles the demon Nicotine, and (prefiguring Avatar’s astro-colonialism) convinces Venusians to destroy their tobacco trees. Shot in 35mm by pioneering animator Fred O’Neill, Space Flight was made for theatrical release. For reasons unknown the Health Department, who commissioned it, didn't want the film to go on general release.