After countless romances, breakups and revelations — plus the odd psycho and crashing helicopter — Shortland Street turned 25 in May 2017. Made on the run, sold round the globe, the Kiwi soap opera juggernaut has provided a launchpad for dozens of actors and behind the scenes talents. Alongside best of clips, the very first episode, musical moments and favourite memories from the cast, Shortland star turned director Angela Bloomfield writes about how the show has changed here, while Mihi Murray backgrounds how it began — and how it reflects New Zealand.
This 1967 documentary offers a rare behind the scenes glimpse into the early days of Kiwi television, as a group of actors learn firsthand how the new medium differs from the stage. The actors' workshops were held in three cities as part of a push to create more local drama. After NZ Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Bell introduces the actors to the camera, they try out some scenes. Five TV plays emerged, and two are seen getting made: The Tired Man, featuring Grant Tilly and Ray Henwood, and acclaimed Christchurch-shot drama Game for Five Players.
One of a select few Kiwi dramas about filmmaking, The Footstep Man centres on a man whose job is creating footsteps and sound effects for movies. Lonely, toiling under a demanding director, Sam (Brit Steven Grimes) gets trapped between real life and reel life. Cinematographer Leon Narbey’s second movie is a portrait of the strange pressure cooker of creating films, a luminous film within a film — with Jennifer Ward-Lealand as muse to painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec — and a reminder that for all the technology involved, moviemaking is about the human touch.
It started with grunge and ended with Spice Girls; Di died, Clinton didn't inhale and the All Blacks were poisoned. On screen, Ice TV and Havoc were for the kids and a grown-up Kiwi cinema delivered a powerful triple punch. Tua's linguistic jab proved just as memorable, Tem got a geography lesson and Thingee's eye popped and reverberated around our living rooms.
This four-part 1986 series offered a lively musical survey of the history of soul. Each episode focussed on a United States city, and its influence on the evolution of the genre. Presented by Dalvanius, the show was built around performances of soul classics by Kiwi performers (Bunny Walters, Peter Morgan, The Yandall Sisters), filmed in a nightclub style setting at Auckland’s Shortland Street Studios. The series writer was Rip It Up editor and future record label owner Murray Cammick (Southside, Wildside).
This classic alternative national anthem by Auckland post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam became a theme song for New Zealand’s long, troubled winter of 1981 as the country was wracked by social and political division and the Springbok Tour. Poet and playwright Richard von Sturmer wrote the lyrics while the music was by Blams member Don McGlashan. The video features a band performance shot on the roof of TVNZ’s Shortland Street studios and shows a curious penchant for celebrity lawn mowing. The performing Marmite and Vegemite jars are, however, the real deal.
Play School (1972 - 1990) was an iconic educational show for pre-school children. The opening sequence — "Here's a house ..." — and the toys (Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Humpty, Manu) were the stars. This compilation reel of various presenters features two excerpts from 1980: Barry Dorking and Jacqui Hay (future National MP), and Dorking solo; one from 1982: actor Rawiri (Whale Rider) Paratene with Winsome Dacker; and two from 1987: Eilish Wahren with Kerry McCammon, and Russell (Count Homgenized) Smith and actress Theresa (Shortland St) Healey.
In these excerpts from TV2's mid-90s late night news show, reporter Mark Staufer talks to Chic Littlewood about a TV career that has taken him from Chic Chat, his 1970s kids show (with puppets Nowsy and Willie McNabb) to playing policeman Laurie Brasch on Shortland Street. Andrew Shaw, whose show followed Chic Chat, reveals a studio shortage at TVNZ at the time. Meanwhile Marcus Lush goes behind the scenes at a luxury Auckland hotel, only to discover a notable lack of TV set destruction from its rock star clientele. Perhaps they were too busy with the telescopes.
Ray Henwood, ONZM — father of comedian Dai — arrived in New Zealand from Wales, just in time for the birth of professional theatre downunder. Best known to TV viewers for five seasons playing Hugh on hit office comedy Gliding On, Henwood’s screen roles include villains (The Legend of William Tell) surgeons (Shortland Street), and experts in hypothermia (Such a Stupid Way to Die). Which is not to mention an epic theatre career which has seen him play Stalin, Einstein and Richard Burton, and star in early plays at Wellington theatres Downstage and Circa.
Tandi Wright spent some of her childhood in the dressing room at Avalon TV Studios - waiting for her actor parents to finish work on Close to Home. But rather than encouraging her to follow suit, Wright insists they were always 'realistic about how nearly impossible it is to make a career out of acting'. She agrees - but seems to have pulled off the impossible anyway. Wright has been acting for television since the age of six, playing lead roles in some of New Zealand’s top productions including Shortland Street, Willy Nilly, Being Eve, Serial Killers, Outrageous Fortune, This Is Not My Life and Nothing Trivial. Her film credits include Not Only But Always, Black Sheep, and Out of the Blue.