The Billy T James Show (sitcom) - excerpts

Television, 1990 (Full Length Episode)

In these excerpts from his last TV series — a family based sitcom — Billy T has to deal with his radical older daughter who wants to get a moko, a teenage boy trying to smuggle beer into his younger daughter’s birthday party, a defamation writ, and another tribe becoming his landlord. There are varying degrees of help from his wife (Ilona Rodgers), his aggressively dim Australian brother-in-law (Mark Hadlow) and his daughter’s painfully politically correct pakeha boyfriend (Mark Wright), as well as cameos from Temuera Morrison, Martin Henderson and Blair Strang.

Series

The Billy T James Show (sitcom)

Television, 1990

By 1990, Billy T James, NZ’s most loved comedian, was recovering from a heart transplant - and trying his hand as a sitcom actor. His career was based on one liners and stand-up gags - but this Billy T James Show was a series of 26 half hour family based comedies with a clear debt to The Cosby Show. Billy was cast as a radio DJ with an Australian wife (Ilona Rodgers) and two daughters - but the trademark giggle was absent, the humour was gentler and the series never captured the public imagination. It was to be his last TV series — Billy T James died in 1991.

Collection

Kiwi Comedy On TV

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure." 

Interview

Roger Hall: Sitcom king...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Playwright and screenwriter Roger Hall has made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s television landscape. Two of his highly successful stage comedies became TV hits - Gliding On and Neighbourhood Watch. Hall wrote three one-off TV plays for the Spotlight series: The Bach, The Reward, and Some People Get All the Luck. As well as his own creations, Hall has also written for Pukemanu and Spin Doctors.

Collection

Thirty Years of Three

Curated by NZ On Screen team

November 2019 marks 30 years since New Zealand television’s third channel first went to air. As this collection makes clear, the channel has highlighted a wide range of local content, from genre-stretching drama (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons) to upstart news shows (Nightline), youth programming (Ice TV, Being Eve) and many landmarks of Kiwi screen comedy (7 Days, bro’Town, Pulp Comedy). As the launch slogan said, "come home to the feeling!" In this background piece, Phil Wakefield ranges from across the years, from early days to awards triumph in 2019.  

Collection

Top 40 NZ TV Classics

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection of 40 classic Kiwi TV series offers up images spanning 50 years. The titles range from Gloss to Gliding On, from Olly Ohlson to Nice One Stu, from Ready to Roll to wrestlers. In this special backgrounder, Stuff's James Croot writes about favourite moments of Kiwi TV. The list is in rough chronological order of when each series debuted.

Collection

Legendary NZ TV Moments

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates the legendary moments that New Zealanders — huddled around the telly — gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our Choysa over as they played out on our screens. "There's a generation who remember where they were when JFK was shot", but as Paul Casserly asks in his collection primer, "where were you when Thingee's eye popped out?"

All Things Being Equal - 22 September 1978 Episode

Television, 1978 (Full Length Episode)

Written by future Gloss creator Rosemary McLeod, this Television One sitcom satirised late 70s gender politics. It was filmed before a studio audience at Avalon Studios. In this episode, Ginette McDonald’s lippy feminist withholds the joy of sex from her hippy hubbie, and Bruno Lawrence (sporting a magnificent anti-comb over) is the unreformed motorhead neighbour whose hangover cure is beer and cornflakes. Lawrence’s larrikin performance in the show was spotted by director Roger Donaldson, who cast Bruno in his breakout lead role in a movie: Al Shaw in Smash Palace

Series

All Things Being Equal

Television, 1978

All Things Being Equal was an early TVNZ sitcom written by future Gloss creator Rosemary McLeod. Screening on Friday nights the 70s gender politics satire was a one-off NZ TV experiment, broadcast live-to-air from Avalon Studios (a second series ditched the live shoot). Ginette McDonald and Bruno Lawrence had made their screen debut together in Pukemanu and were reunited by series director Ross Jennings. When film director Roger Donaldson saw Bruno on the show, it led to Lawrence being cast as Al Shaw in Smash Palace — his career-defining big screen role. 

Gliding On - No Smoke Without Fire (First Episode)

Television, 1981 (Full Length Episode)

In an age before Rogernomics, well before The Office, there was the afternoon tea fund, Golden Kiwi, and four o'clock closing: welcome to the early 80s world of the New Zealand Public Service. Gliding On (1981 - 1985) was the first locally-made sitcom to become a bona-fide classic. Inspired by Roger Hall's hit play Glide Time, the award-winning series satirised a paper-pushing working life familiar to many Kiwis. This episode features Beryl's non-smoking campaign, Jim's efforts to kick the habit, office sexual innuendo and a much-debated fire drill. "Morning Jim!"