The broadcasting career of so-called 'Mr Country Calendar' Frank Torley spanned almost half a century. He worked on the iconic rural series as reporter, producer and narrator, and a number of other programmes besides. In 2002, he was awarded the ONZM for services to broadcasting. Torley died of cancer on 27 March 2016, just weeks after Country Calendar celebrated its 50th year on air.
The late Frank Torley was a Kiwi television legend, forever known as that Country Calendar guy - he variously narrated, directed, produced, and reported for the show over more than 40 years. But Torley hadn’t always been Mr Rural. He also spent time as a newsreader, Top Town presenter, documentary maker (including an early doco on AIDs), and producing religious programmes.
From its impressive cinematography, to its broad range of stories and characters, Country Calendar reflects the backbone of New Zealand culture. The country's longest-running television show still tops the NZ On Air Top 10 most weeks. TV producer Jon Bridges, Governor-General Patsy Reddy and broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi are among those reflecting on the show’s importance, in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. TVNZ executive Andrew Shaw provides 'The Inside Story', and muses on how the show really belongs to all New Zealanders.
When TV began in New Zealand in 1960, posh English accents on screen were de rigueur. As veteran broadcaster Judy Callingham recalls in this sixth episode of Kiwi TV history: "every trace of a New Zealand vowel was knocked out of you." But as ties to Mother England weakened, Kiwis began to feel proud of their identity and culture. John Clarke invented farming comedy legend Fred Dagg, while Karyn Hay showed a Kiwi accent could be cool on Radio with Pictures. Sam Neill and director Geoff Murphy add their thoughts on the changing ways that Kiwis saw themselves.
In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.
Some men joke about wanting a 'man cave'. Te Puke contractor Ron Hintz grabbed a shovel and dug one out by hand. This episode of the legendary TV series sees reporter/director Tony Benny experiencing Hintz's sometimes thrilling, sometimes whimsical outdoor home projects, including a flying fox, swing bridges and a cable car running down to the Mangorewa river. Hintz is a self-taught designer and inventor, a multi-skilled 'Renaissance man' ably supported by his partner Colleen, who can often be found behind the wheel of a tractor or bulldozer.
This is the first of a six-part TVNZ series which follows seven couples from antenatal classes to the reality of childbirth and parenthood. Along the way they share their hopes and fears as they await the arrival of their first born. This episode focuses on antenatal classes, decisions that have to be made and practical adjustments, including jobs and budgeting. The fathers-to-be provide some of the most humorous lines, mostly displaying their naivety (one looks forward to the chance to "laze back a bit"). But all the participants show an honesty that makes for fascinating viewing.
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.
"Another adventure with Tim" is how one of Tim Wallis’ friends wryly puts it. The "adventure" came about when Wallis combined an “expensive toy”, and a noxious pest: using helicopters to recover deer shot by hunters in inaccessible South Island backblocks. Next deer were captured alive, to stock deer farms; a multi-million dollar industry was born. At the peak of his operations, Wallis had a fleet of 35 helicopters. The aerial shots in and around Milford Sound are magnificent. The stories he tells of his many crashes are 'she'll be right' Boy's Own classics.
The iconic all-things-rural show is the longest running programme on New Zealand television. With its typical patient observational style (that allows stories of people and the land to gently unfold) it’s an unlikely broadcasting star, but New Zealanders continue, after 50 plus years, to tune in. Amongst the bucolic tales of farming, fishing and forestry, there are high country musters, floods, organic brewing, falconry, tobacco farming, as well as a fencing wire-playing farmer-musician, a radio-controlled dog, and Fred Dagg and the Trevs.