Popco slotted in after Movin’ and before Norman, as part of a long tradition of Christchurch music shows which first began with Let’s Go in the early 60s. It featured a studio band, the Maggie Burke Dancers and vocalists including Bunny Walters, Annie Whittle, Tom Sharplin and Rob Guest, who performed the hits of the day. There were appearances from local acts including Ticket and Chapta, and overseas performers like Lindisfarne and Gary Glitter (who was overcome with vertigo and had to be rescued from a high diving board at QE2 pool, after miming one of his hits).
This 1974 end of year special for music show Popco sees acts performing cover songs in locations around Christchurch, plus inside the studio. Presenting and singing are Hayden Wood, Rob Guest (before musicals fame) and Steve Gilpin (before Mi-Sex). The performers include Space Waltz (in their glam rock glory), Annie Whittle (on the banks of the Avon), the Maggie Burke dancers in Cathedral Square, Rockinghorse (featuring 'Nature' composer Wayne Mason), Mark Williams (sparkling in green lurex), Bunny Walters, Drut (complete with a flaming guitar) and Beaver (in the finale).
English-born Rob Guest, OBE, started out as a pop singer. In the 1970s he sang on New Zealand shows like Happen Inn and Popco, before starring in a number of one-off TV specials, including 1985's Rob and Guests. After spending the first half of the 1980s performing in the United States, Guest relocated to Australia, to make his name in musical theatre. Following an award-winning role in Les Misérables, he began a record-breaking seven year run as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. He also hosted the Aussie version of game show Man O Man. Rob Guest died early in October 2008, after suffering a stroke.
David McPhail's television resume is that of a genuine stayer. Working with Jon Gadsby, his longtime comic partner in crime, McPhail famously impersonated Sir Rob Muldoon in landmark sketch shows A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby. Later he helped create the Barry Crump-style yarns of Letter to Blanchy, and played the no-nonsense teacher in Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.
Actor, singer, and comedian Annie Whittle first won television fame on 70s comedy classic A Week of It. Since then she has presented a run of shows, had her own musical special, and acted alongside the likes of Billy T James, Miranda Harcourt, George Henare, and Anthony Hopkins.
Beaver - real name Beverley Morrison - toured New Zealand as part of seminal 70s touring group Blerta. Later she sang on the title track of 80s television hit Gloss, and acted in 1985 thriller Should I Be Good? She passed away in May 2010.
The consummate all-rounder, Murray Wood began arranging and performing music for television in the 1970s. Later he founded computer sales company MagnumMac, and spent seven years as managing director of Canterbury Television. Wood died in the collapse of the CTV building, in the earthquake of February 22 2011.
Gerard Smyth began his screen career in 1969 as a cameraman for state TV. Since turning director he has made documentaries on everything from the disabled (many for TV series Inside Out) to the arts. Qantas-nominated for his doco on cinematographer Alun Bollinger, Smyth made his feature debut with When a City Falls, an acclaimed account of the quakes in hometown Christchurch. He followed it with Jean Watson doco Aunty and the Star People.