Danny Down Under

Television, 1980 (Full Length)

Framed around a visit to New Zealand by Irish-born entertainer Danny La Rue, this all-singing all-dancing spectacular was recorded over three days in March 1980. The “fella in a frock” was famed for his drag acts and double entendres. Comedians Jon Gadsby and David McPhail provide local support as Marlene Dietrich visits a farm, Mae West visits the All Blacks changing room, and Margaret Thatcher meets Robert Muldoon (McPhail). Filmed at Avalon Studios, the revue was a co-production with London Weekend Television, made during the golden era of NZ TV variety shows.

Collection

The Florian Habicht Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Florian Habicht first won attention for 2003's Woodenhead, a fairytale about a rubbish dump worker and a princess. By then Habicht had already made his first feature-length documentary. Many more docos have followed: films that celebrate his love for people, and sometimes drift into fantasy. In this collection, watch as the idiosyncratic director meets fishermen, Kaikohe demolition derby drivers (both watchable in full), legends of Kiwi theatre and British pop, and beautiful women carrying slices of cake through New York. Ian Pryor writes here about the joys of Florian Habicht.

Series

The Fire-Raiser

Television, 1986

The Fire-Raiser pits a quartet of smalltown World War I era school kids against a mysterious figure with fire on the brain. Inspired partly by a real-life Nelson arsonist, the five-part gothic adventure was created for television by author Maurice Gee. Peter Hayden plays the town’s unconventional teacher ‘Clippy’ Hedges, while the lead role went to Royal NZ Ballet star Jon Trimmer. The Fire-Raiser won four Listener TV awards, including best overall drama and best writer. Gee’s accompanying novel was published both here and overseas. He writes about the show's birth here.

Robin Laing

Producer

Robin Laing began her long career as a producer with 1985's Mr Wrong, the first of many projects she has worked on with director Gaylene Preston. In 1993 Laing was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the New Zealand film industry. 

Yvonne Mackay

Director

Yvonne Mackay is a prolific director of New Zealand television, whose work has often focused on the arts and projects made for young people. She made history as the director of The Silent One (1984), the first New Zealand feature film directed solely by a woman. These days Mackay runs Wellington company Production Shed TV.

Toa Fraser

Writer, Director

Playwright turned director Toa Fraser grabbed the theatre world with award-winning play No.2, which he then directed for the screen. At the 2006 Sundance Festival it won the coveted audience award. Follow-up Dean Spanley won seven gongs at the 2009 Qantas Film Awards, including best director. Fraser went on to helm ballet documentary Giselle, te reo action movie The Dead Lands, and hostage drama 6 Days.

Gareth Farr

Composer

Gareth Farr is recognised as a leading composer of contemporary music in New Zealand. Farr has many personas; composer for screen and stage, percussionist, and percussive drag artiste Lilith LaCroix. In 2006 Farr was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit.

Fiona Copland

Producer

Producer Fiona Copland is noted for quirky and ambitious films, many of them made with first-time directors. 2009's The Strength of Water won praise at festivals in Rotterdam and Berlin, while multi-stranded narrative feature Matariki arrived in New Zealand theatres in 2010 via the Toronto Film Festival. These days she is part of company Field Theory, with producers Philippa Campbell and Tim Sanders.

Jillian Ewart

Producer

Jillian Ewart worked in television as a producer and director from 1976 until 1987. She was the originating producer of Pacific Viewpoint, worked on five seasons of Kaleidoscope, and developed the format for the live Benson and Hedges Awards for Fashion Design. Ewart was also the first producer of travel series Holiday. These days Ewart has returned to journalism.

Liddy Holloway

Actor, Writer

Probably best known for playing Alex McKenna (wife to the boss at the Shortland Street clinic), and Hercules' mother, Liddy Holloway also wrote scripts for many of the television shows she appeared in (among them: Shortland, Homeward Bound and Australia’s Prisoner). Holloway passed away in late 2004, after a screen career that spanned three decades.