Having made a comeback after heart surgery in 1990, legendary entertainer Billy T James passed away in August 1991. Four years later that anniversary was commemorated with Billy T James - A Celebration. Hosted by Pio Terei, the special highlights some of Billy’s best moments of both comedy gold, and his vast talents as musician. Interviews with Billy T and his colleagues (including showband veteran Robbie Ratana, comedian Peter Rowley, and screen wife Ilona Rodgers) offer insight into the real man behind arguably New Zealand’s most beloved entertainer.
Music critics worldwide have praised Marlon Williams' voice, comparing his smooth tones to Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. In 2018 Williams had a stellar year: he won several music awards — including the APRA Silver Scroll Award and Tuis for Best Solo Artist, Album and Music Video — and scored a cameo role in Bradley Cooper's remake of A Star is Born. Williams first won fame in Christchurch as a 17-year-old, when he founded and fronted folk band The Unfaithful Ways. He also sang with musicians Delaney Davidson and Tami Neilson, before moving to Melbourne in 2013 to start a globetrotting solo career.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
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.