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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). 

A class act

A Class Act, Mervyn Thompson, His Life & Work

Television, 1997 (Full Length)

In the theatre world of the 70s and 80s, playwright Mervyn Thompson was an outspoken figure. He wrote, directed, and acted in theatre that presented New Zealand working class history and experience. This doco features a rare interview with Thompson before he died in 1992, as well as footage from his last work Passing Through (1991). Thompson discusses his upbringing on the West Coast of the South Island, his approach to theatre, and alludes to some of the controversies that beset his career.

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The Gravy - Series One, Episode 12

Television, 2007 (Full Length Episode)

This NSFW episode of Sticky Pictures' award-winning arts series is dedicated to exploring the 'sexy side' of buttoned-down New Zealand — from traditional burlesque to erotic sculpture fashioned from export quality butter. Featured are Wellington illustrator Simon Morse, visual artist Stuart Shepherd, performer Tanya Drewery (aka Magenta Diamond) and feminist photographer Siren Deluxe. Also making a cameo appearance — hold on to your rosary beads — the infamous 'Virgin In A Condom'. This Qantas Award-nominated episode was directed by the late Phill England.

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Heartland - Wainuiomata

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

This show was possibly the most controversial edition of the Heartland series. Gary visits the sometimes maligned working class dormitory suburb, and hits sports fields, local homes and Tupperware parties. In this full-length episode he meets everyone from cheerful league coaches and builders remembering the challenges of getting supplies up the hill, to the woman many would not forget: Chloe Reeves, with her squeaking voice, distinctive fashion sense and tiger slippers. There is also a fleeting glimpse of future All Black Piri Weepu holding a school road safety lollipop.

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Series

The Governor

Television, 1977

The Governor was a television epic that examined the life of Governor George Grey in six thematic parts. Grey's "Good Governor" persona was undercut with laudanum, lechery and land confiscation. NZ TV's first (and only) historical blockbuster was hugely controversial, provoking a parliamentary inquiry and "test match sized" audiences. It won a 1978 Feltex Award for Best Drama. Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw trumpeted: "It has made Māori matter. If Pākehā now have a better understanding of the Māori point of view [...] it stems from The Governor.

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Bob Jones - Doing God's Work?

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

This Lookout special follows colourful property tycoon Bob Jones hustling on the 1984 campaign trail, and talking up his newly-formed New Zealand Party. The outspoken advocate for free market liberalisation drew crowds at halls across New Zealand. The Rocky theme music shamelessly plays as boxing fan Jones approaches the rostrum. The party was ultimately short-lived and won no seats, but achieved its goal of denying National a third term by splitting the vote. The documentary includes scenes of the libertarian attempting to dictate how television media filmed him.

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Backch@t - First Episode

Television, 1998 (Excerpts)

Backch@t was a magazine-style arts and culture show that appealed, from the opening acid-jazz theme tune, to a literate late-90s arts audience. Fronted by media personality Bill Ralston, these excerpts from the first episode come out guns blazing with a debate by panellists about Tania Kovats's controversial artwork 'Virgin in a Condom', the sculpture that caused national upset when it was exhibited at Te Papa in 1998. Managing to keep a panel discussion convivial rather than confrontational, Ralston handles the catholic debate with aplomb.

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6.30PM News - Grahame Thorne's Perm

Television, 1983 (Excerpts)

With stints as an All Black, Springbok triallist, sports presenter, National MP, and sometime celebrity chef, Grahame Thorne has experienced his share of fame. But perhaps his hottest 15 minutes came after he dared to present the sports news one day in 1983 ... with a perm. The ensuing national trauma inspired headlines, irate phonecalls, and “curls are for girls” banners at rugby games. Sadly the perm’s freshest incarnation is lost to the archives, and this slightly grown-out version is the only extant evidence of a key moment in Kiwi fashion history.

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Prize Bitch

Television, 2001 (Excerpts)

This ‘best in show' documentary follows three poodle breeders competing for first at the NZ Dog Show. It observes the eccentricity and obsessiveness of the competitive dog world. Controversial at the time for focusing just on standard poodles, such perceived favouritism did not go down well on the dog show circuit. Prize Bitch came from the successful pairing of Jude Callen and Megan Jones, whose documentary Return To Romania won awards. Callen went on to become TVNZ's Senior Documentary Commissioner.

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Cover Story - First Episode

Television, 1995 (Excerpts)

The Gibson Group drama series centres on a team of TV journalists working on a weekly current affairs programme. Katie Wolfe plays stroppy journalist Amanda Robbins, who has been lured back to Wellington from Australia by a network boss hoping her tabloid style will help ratings. Her workmates are not so confident. In this excerpt from the start of the first episode, Robbins hits the news (literally) as she runs into a disturbed nightclubber (Katrina Hobbs) on a rainy night. A pre-Lord of the Rings Fran Walsh was one of the series writers.