In a television career that began with the TVNZ rock unit, director and producer Mandy Toogood has been responsible for a run of hit comedy shows and live extravaganzas: from TV Awards finalist Pulp Comedy, to NZ Idol, and the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. She's also been responsible for daily production for Trackside and TAB TV as executive producer for the NZ Racing Board.
This 1976 concert sees Kiwi entertainment great John Rowles bring his cabaret show to His Majesty's Theatre in Auckland. Back from a hotel residency in Hawaii, Rowles belts out the ballads in his booming baritone. Tanned, in pastel blue flares, wide lapels, and plenty of bling, Rowles (here nearly 30) croons about wahine from Mandy to Sweet Caroline, to his iconic "island sweetheart" Cheryl Moana Marie. Memorable moments include tributes to Norman Kirk and singer Inia Te Wiata, a haka with Dave from Palmerston North, and a rousing finish with 'Mr Bojangles'.
They came, they battered, they bickered. Peter Hudson and David Halls were as famous for their on-screen spats as their recipes. The couple ("are we gay? Well we're certainly merry") turned cooking into comedy, and won Entertainer of the Year at the 1981 Feltex Awards. This 73-minute documentary explores their enduring relationship and tragic passing — from memorable early days entertaining dinner guests at home and running a shoe store, through to television fame in NZ and the UK. The interviews include close friends and many of those who worked with them in television.
Ron Morrison is secretly dreading the ‘dating years’. Rebecca and Kevin have their home, their dog and more love to share, possibly with a baby. Holly Morrison isn’t that bothered with boys yet, but she is determined to pass her South American dance exam. This high-rating documentary examines the physical and emotional challenges of being a ‘little person’— someone living with achondroplasia, the most common cause of dwarfism. Ron, Holly, Rebecca and Kevin are determined to grasp opportunities, although Ron’s conflict of emotions is especially poignant.
Reality TV host Marc Ellis tones down his laddish antics to present this series on other cultures and beliefs. In this episode he asks "what makes the Hare Krishna tick...what makes them so happy all of the time?". Ellis moves in with a Krishna community in West Auckland, where his strikingly casual guide teaches him what it is to be a Hare Krishna. Late night and early morning dance sessions prove to be less of a struggle than anticipated for Ellis, who seems to fit right in — although the haircut might be a little close, and the proximity of the local pubs a temptation too far.
Marcus Lush goes "right up the guts" of the North Island from Wairarapa to Gisborne, in this episode of his award-winning romance with New Zealand's railways. He meets railcar restorers and recounts the murders by rail porter Rowland Edwards in 1884. Particular praise is reserved for the "spectacular and beautiful" Napier to Gisborne line (now mothballed) with its viaducts at Mohaka and Kopuawhara. The latter is on the site of a flash flood that killed 21 workers in 1938; it inspires an idiosyncratic Lush demonstration of Aotearoa's then 10 worst disasters.
Of the four performers on this episode of Pulp Comedy, Sam Wills arguably makes the most lasting impression. His fast-talking magic show is a far cry from his later mute act, The Boy With Tape On His Face (aka Tape Face), which in 2016 became a viral sensation via TV's America’s Got Talent. Although his Pulp Comedy performance is significantly more vocal than the one that would make his reputation, his quirky use of props remains familiar. Elsewhere on the show Mike Loder has a dangerous encounter with a wētā, and host Paul Ego gets in trouble trying to order a coffee.
In the 13th episode of Epitaph's second season, Paul Gittins goes digging in Waikumete Cemetery. The epitaph for 25-year old convicted murderer Dennis Gunn, hanged in 1920 for shooting the Ponsonby Postmaster, includes an intriguing inscription: "sadly wronged". Gittins unearths the story of a post office robbery, and the first conviction in New Zealand based on fingerprint identification. The judge called the print an "unforgeable signature". Before he died, Gunn claimed innocence: "if only my brother-in-law will speak up I will be saved".
In each episode of this popular TV series, actor Paul Gittins investigated the story behind the epitaph written on a gravestone. In this third episode from season one, Gittins visits the grave of Walter James Bolton, a Whanganui farmer who was the last man to get the death penalty in New Zealand. He was hanged on 18 February 1957, found guilty of poisoning his wife of 43 years with arsenic derived from sheep dip. Gittins meets Peter Waller, a campaigner for Bolton’s innocence, who claims to be his son. Bryan Bruce revisited the case in 2007 on his series The Investigator.
Rotorua may be famous for its picture perfect scenery, but dig a little deeper under the boiling mud and you'll find a history bubbling with warfare, adventure and romance. This TV One documentary, presented by Te Arawa's own Sir Howard Morrison, traces the iwi's origins —from a fight over a beloved dog in Hawaiki, to the shores of Maketū in the Bay of Plenty. Morrison travels around the Rotorua region visiting important historical sites like Mokoia Island and his home marae at Ōhinemutu, on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Paul Gittins (Epitaph) directed the one-off special.