Every now and then here at NZ On Screen, we like to stick our necks out and choose a Top 10. And our collective opinion is that these are the funniest New Zealand television series to date: from bro' Town to Billy T, from Gliding On to the tag team hijinks of 7 Days. Plus 10 runners-up that we couldn't agree on. Read on to find out more.
Advice show Dilemmas saw a doctor and a panel of guests responding to letters from viewers on a range of issues. In this episode, Australian GP Kerryn Phelps and guest panelists Jude Dobson, Philip Alpers and Liane Clarke deal with everything from a neighbour using a chainsaw at 6:30am on a Sunday, to violence in a relationship. The question of smacking kids as a disciplinary measure is given a children’s perspective, and Liane Clarke suggests a humorous way to deal with catcalling. Phelps went on to become the first woman elected to head the Australian Medical Association.
Since debuting in 2009, award-winning panel series 7 Days has introduced a range of Kiwi comedy talents to television audiences. Three's show takes an irreverent look at the past week in the news, with regular segments like “my kid could draw that” and “what’s the taxi driver talking about”. Jeremy Corbett hosts; the two teams of regular and guest comedians have included Paul Ego, Dai Henwood, Ben Hurley and Urzila Carlson. The show echoes the format of Britain's long-running Mock the Week. Corbett has described 7 Days as the comedy show he's always wanted to make.
Presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood, this panel show screened on weekday afternoons from 1976 to 1985. Toogood and four female panellists answered viewers' letters, and took on "every problem, be it incest, love or tatting", as panelist Liz Grant says in a poetry reading. This 1982 Christmas Day special drops the advice to concentrate on entertainment from a super team of 12 panelists, including regulars Shona McFarlane, Heather Eggleton, and Catherine Saunders. Johnny Frisbie attempts to teach Toogood a hula, and Toogood sings Yes! We Have No Bananas.
Dilemmas sought to give advice to New Zealanders on how to negotiate their day to day lives. Hosted by Australian doctor Kerryn Phelps (and later by Marcus Lush) with a rotating panel of guests, the show covered everything from annoying neighbours to harassment and violence. Guests included Jude Dobson, Philip Alpers, Ginette McDonald and Genevieve Westcott. A regular media commentator in Australia on health matters, Phelps became the first woman elected to head the Australian Medical Association; in 2011 she received an Order of Australia, for services to medicine.
Presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood, this beloved agony-aunt (and uncle!) discussion show screened on weekday afternoons, from 1976 to 1985. Toogood and four female panelists answered viewers' letters, taking on issues big and small. "We tackle every problem, be it incest, love or tatting" as panelist Liz Grant put it. Regular panellists included artist Shona McFarlane, Heather Eggleton, Catherine Saunders, and writer Johnny Frisbie.
In 1993, advice show Dilemmas introduced a new host to replace Australian GP Kerryn Phelps. With Marcus Lush at the helm, this episode features panelists Ginette McDonald, Alice Worsley and George Balani. Among the troubles the group deal with are an anonymous phone call about an affair, and a self-professed "nice guy" who can’t hold a date. Lush gets briefly distracted by an abundance of pens on his desk, before the team touch on problem smoking in the office and George Balani, resplendent in novelty Bugs Bunny tie, suggests calling in the Mongrel Mob.
Ask Your Auntie was one of the most popular shows on Māori Television. This half hour studio-based chat series gained a solid reputation for straight up, no-nonsense wisdom from the agony 'Aunties'. Host Ella Henry is joined by a rotating panel of talented and wise wahine including Mabel Wharekawa-Burt, Aroha Hathaway, Vanessa Rare, Veeshayne Patuwai, Kath Akuhata-Brown, Christina Asher, Whetu Fala, Ngawai Herewini and Rachel House.
This 2007 Christmas special was the final swansong of Ask Your Auntie, Māori Television’s top-rating agony aunt show. The series gained a solid reputation for dishing out no-nonsense advice from its spirited panellists, as can be sampled in the montage of clips and quips in this hour long special. As one might expect from a Christmas edition, this show eschews the tough and gritty for more uplifting subjects, including what to feed your Christmas guests. Musical entertainment is provided by the Tama Waipara Band and singer Ringiringi Manawaiti.
Jon Bridges was born in America. Since moving to New Zealand at the age of three, he has made hundreds of hours of television for NZers - not only from in front of the camera, but also behind it. Bridges' comic dexterity came to light on our screens in the early 90s with TV shows like A Bit After Ten and Away Laughing, but his first big TV role was as co-presenter of the long-running TV3 series Ice TV, which debuted in 1995. Since Ice TV, Bridges has written, directed, produced and starred in numerous documentaries, dramas, game shows and films. He is currently producing TV3's well-received comedy panel show 7 Days.