Rugby and league international, car wash entrepreneur and celebrity Matthew Ridge became – alongside fellow sportsman Marc Ellis – one of the twin onscreen towers of 90s and 2000s lad culture in New Zealand. The larrikin pair went adventuring in Aotearoa and overseas (Fresh Up In the Deep End, a run of Matthew and Marc’s Rocky Road series) and were panel captains on sports quiz show Game of Two Halves. Solo, Ridge was chosen to host the original version of high profile game show The Chair. He has also been a regular participant in a run of celebrity reality shows (Treasure Island, Top of the Class).
This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure."
Paul Holmes signed off editions of his weeknightly current affairs show with "Those were our people today, and that's Holmes tonight". 'Our people' in this 1997 Christmas special — presented from the roof of TVNZ — include seemingly everyone deemed worthy of news in 1997: from surgery survivors, to stowaways (the notoriously laconic Ingham twins) and All Blacks. Reporter Jim Mora finds politicians bustling for cheery airtime; Tom Scott recalls where he was when Princess Di died; and international celebs (from the Spice Girls to Kylie) send wishes downunder.
Presented by John Kirwan, this film looks at the 1990 decision of Kirwan's young All Black teammate Matthew Ridge to ‘defect’ from rugby, to play professional league for the Manly Sea Eagles. Ridge had been the uncapped understudy to 1989 World Player of the Year John Gallagher. Ironically Gallagher converted to league shortly after Ridge, news that Ridge receives while preparing for his league debut. Ridge went on to captain the Kiwis. His code shift began a trend that transformed union and league in NZ; union turned pro in 1995. Ric (Sports Cafe) Salizzo directs.
The third of Pasta Productions’ popular All Blacks documentaries sees winger John Kirwan provide running commentary on the team’s path to the 1991 World Cup in England: from Argentina to Sydney and Auckland to contest the Bledisloe; from facing bottle and orange missiles in Tucumán to touch on Bondi Beach. JK muses on why coach Alex Wyllie is nicknamed ‘Grizz’, Neil and Tim Finn provide musical accompaniment (“I see black”), and Canterbury Uglies are the training uniform du jour. Meanwhile on-field signs are ominous for the reigning world champs.
The follow up to 1989 tour doco The Good, the Bad and the Rugby sees winger John Kirwan narrate an insider’s guide to the All Blacks’ 1990 tour to France: from Michael Jones negotiating a haircut (“how do you say ‘square top’ in French?”) to 19-year-old Simon Mannix leading a ‘Ten Guitars’ singalong. Footy relics of the era include afternoon test matches, four point tries, placed kick-offs, sneaky ciggies and Steinlager. Producer Ric Salizzo later repeated the Pasta Productions’ recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.
This documentary follows the then world champion All Blacks on a 1989 tour of Wales and Ireland. With star winger John Kirwan as guide, 'The All Black Film Unit' gives a players’ insight into an international tour in pre-professional, pre-media trained times — there’s even a plate of oranges. Match, training, and travel footage is complemented by relaxed encounters with players (Zinzan Brooke mounting a shetland pony has entered rugby folklore). Producer Ric Salizzo repeated the recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.
Director Chris Graham delivers five minutes of cars, comedy and eye candy in this slick who's who of the 2003 Kiwi scene. Featuring DJ Sir-Vere, ex sports star Matthew Ridge, Paul Holmes (well actually he was a no show — but his understudy appeared to get the message across) and VJ Jane Yee, this remarkably polished clip succeeded in planting a relatively unknown hip hop artist squarely on the front page. The result was the biggest selling Kiwi single of the year — and a 2005 NZ Music Award for Best Video. It cost at least $50,000 to make.
Fresh-up in the Deep End saw sportsmen turned TV larrikins Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge facing challenges far outside their comfort zones. This episode has the pair taking on dancing, from ballroom and latin styles, through to cabaret, contemporary and Irish. En route they try some body percussion with Black Grace Dance Company, and do the can-can under the watchful eye of cabaret legend Debbie Dorday. Then they must put their new found skills to the test in full on competition. Ridge and Ellis' skills with a rugby ball in hand don't always translate onto the dancefloor.
Former All Blacks Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis team up once again to export their brand of larrikin-like behaviour overseas. In this first episode of their Russian travels they find themselves in the capital of Moscow, where they compete to get smiles out of locals, and head to a space agency building to see if they have the physical ability (and appropriate payment for the guards) to head out into the cosmos. Ridge is informed of a kidney problem, and Ellis gets told he has a dickey heart; but neither diagnosis is enough to prevent the pair testing their limits on the centrifuge.