This live TV spectacular documents an 18 October 1981 Royal Variety performance in front of the touring Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh. Performers in St James Theatre included Ray Columbus (in That's Country mode), Sir Howard Morrison and John Rowles. Dance is represented by Limbs and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, while McPhail and Gadsby and Billy T James deliver pre-PC gags. There’s a show stopping all-singing all-dancing finale, and what seems like the entire roster of NZ showbiz of the time lines up to greet the Queen, including Lyn of Tawa.
“I hear the roooolling thunder”. Sir Howard Morrison’s classic bilingual rendition of the popular hymn comes from an October 1981 Royal Variety Performance, in front of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Morrison's performance at Auckland's St James Theatre of 'Whakaaria Mai' marked a comeback for the veteran entertainer, who had been out of the spotlight working in Māori youth development. Released as a single a couple of months later, it topped the charts for four weeks, and led to the commissioning of a televised Howard Morrison Special in 1982.
This documentary tells the life story of entertainer Sir Howard Morrison. He discusses his Te Arawa whakapapa, whānau, and Anglican faith. Made by Bryan Bruce, it Includes footage of Morrison's investiture, a visit to his old school Te Aute, early performances by the Howard Morrison Quartet in Rotorua, and performances from throughout his career. Morrison is candid about his ego, his foray into film, and his marriage. An especially touching moment is a visit to an old Tūhoe friend (Morrison spent his early years in the Urewera) with a cloak made for his father.
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.
An outstanding project designer, Logan Brewer first made his mark on television with ambitious period drama Hunter’s Gold. In the early 80s he went freelance, producing cop show Mortimer’s Patch and children’s drama Terry and the Gunrunners. His major project work included opening and closing ceremonies for the 1990 Commonwealth Games, and NZ pavilions at Expos in Brisbane and Seville. Brewer passed away in August 2015.
Malcolm Kemp's expertise at covering live events took him from New Zealand to the sports department of the BBC. The one time head of entertainment at TVNZ masterminded TV coverage of concerts, Top Town competitions, elections, World Expo and the Commonwealth Games.
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.
Barbara Darragh's screen costumes have been worn by ghosts, prostitutes, Māori warriors and Tainuia Kid Billy T James. An award-winner for The Dead Lands, River Queen and The End of the Golden Weather, Darragh's CV includes TV shows Under the Mountain and Greenstone, plus more than a dozen other features. She also runs Auckland costume hire company Across the Board.
For three decades Peter Sinclair was one of New Zealand’s leading TV presenters. A radio announcer by training, he was the face of music television, fronting Let’s Go, C’mon and Happen Inn from 1964 to 1973. He reinvented himself as a quiz show host with Mastermind — and hosted telethons and beauty contests until the mid 90s. Sinclair returned to radio and wrote an online column until his death in August 2001.
Veteran producer Tom Parkinson has worked with some of New Zealand television's most popular comedians, including David McPhail, Jon Gadsby, and the late Billy T James (who he discovered in an Avondale Rugby League club). He also directed adventure series Hunter's Gold — whose international success helped launch a run of Kiwi-made children's dramas — and produced many international co-productions.