Host Paul Holmes puts the life of opera star Dame Malvina Major in the spotlight and discovers her origins in a large Waikato family whose first love was country music. Guests include John Rowles and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (a fellow pupil of their often terrifying teacher, “the tiny force behind the biggest voices”, Dame Sister Mary Leo). Major’s triumphs are revisited, as is her decision to give up her international career to farm with her husband in Taranaki. A good sport throughout, she even manages a yodel for a ukulele-led family sing-along.
Gary Scott began his television career as an assignment editor on TV3's news desk, before joining Ninox Films as a writer and researcher. He directed documentaries then joined Wellington company Gibson Group in 2001, where he has produced or executive produced a slew of factual programmes and series, including Kiwis at War, Here to Stay and NZ Detectives.
Bill McCarthy’s wide-ranging television career spans 50 years and counting. McCarthy won a keen following when he anchored coverage of the 1974 Commonwealth Games. After five years presenting Television One’s network news (alternating with Dougal Stevenson), he became a producer and director, and did time as TVNZ’s head of sports. McCarthy set up his own company in 1990, and continues to make shows for cable television.
Best known for his many decades in radio, Peter Harcourt's career also included books and varied screen appearances. In the 60s he and his wife Kate Harcourt fronted Junior Magazine, one of our earliest children’s TV shows. Peter went on to act on Gloss and present the Mobil Song Quest, though his most famous screen appearance runs just 21 seconds – a 60s era underwear ad which was originally rejected as too risque to screen.
Rachel Weston was one of the child stars of kidult TV hit Children of Fire Mountain, playing grandaughter to a Brit aristocrat in a thermal spa town, circa 1900. Later the classically trained singer and Mobil Song Quest finalist hosted music show Opus and classical music contests for NZ TV. She is now a UK based singer. Weston has also read news for BBC World Service, and presented Proms concerts for BBC Four.
Alongside a notable theatre resumé, actor Jed Brophy’s wide-ranging screen career has seen him wrangling horses and scaring hobbits for Peter Jackson, undergoing relationship trauma for Gaylene Preston, and playing South African in District 9.
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.
Bernie Allen, QSM, was a professional musician and teacher before beginning his TV career as musical director of popular 60s show C’mon. He continued on to Happen Inn, followed by a vast number of shows as composer or music director over the next two decades. His score for Hunter’s Gold won an APRA Silver Scroll; his arrangement of ‘Hine E Hine’ accompanied the classic Goodnight Kiwi animation.
Richard Turner’s work as a director began with poetry-based works, pioneering Māori works for television, and Squeeze (1980), New Zealand’s first gay-themed feature. Since then he has made films largely in Australia.
Veteran actor Kate Harcourt was named a Dame Companion of the NZ Order of Merit in 1996, for her contribution to theatre. Her long performing career also encompasses many roles on screen (Plain Tastes, The Dig, Apron Strings), often playing maternal figures. In her ninth decade she won Best Actress at Rhode Island International Film Festival as the plucky rest home rebel in short film Pacific Dreams.