Called up at the start of World War II, George Shadbolt spent six years in the British Army. As a member of the Royal Corps of Signals he spent much of it behind the lines, installing and maintaining vital communications networks. Shadbolt — 99 at the time of this interview — covered 1000s of kilometres through North Africa and the Middle East. It wasn’t until late in the war that he saw action in Italy, bringing communications lines to tanks at the front. The task offered little protection; Shadbolt deemed it the army's most dangerous job. Shadbolt passed away on 9 August 2017.
Sam Neill has acted in forgotten Kiwi TV dramas (The City of No) and classic Kiwi movies (Sleeping Dogs, The Piano, Hunt for the Wilderpeople). His career has taken him from the UK (Reilly: Ace of Spies) to Hawaii (Jurassic Park) to dodgy Melbourne nightclubs (Death in Brunswick). As Neill turns 70, this collection celebrates his range, modesty and style — and the fact he was directing films before winning acting fame. In these backgrounders, friends Ian Mune and Roger Donaldson raise a glass to a talented, self-deprecating actor and fan of good music and pinot noir.
Keith Boles was certain he wanted to join the air force when the Second World War broke out, and it wasn’t long before he was a flying instructor. Evacuated from Singapore when the Japanese invaded, Boles eventually found himself in the United Kingdom, with an Advanced Flying Unit. A transfer to operations with Bomber Command saw him piloting de Havilland Mosquito bombers and being trained in the use of the top secret Oboe targeting system. Being part of a pathfinder unit was, he says, the safest job in Bomber Command and he came through his service unscathed.
Gwen Stevens was one of the last survivors of World War ll's top secret Auckland Combined Military Headquarters. There she plotted grid references from New Zealand’s coastal radar, tracking the coming and goings of ships and aircraft. The threat of a Japanese invasion had everyone on edge. At one point there was panic when it was believed an aircraft carrier had been detected off the coast. All services were mobilised, but it turned out to be a mistaken reading of the Three Kings Islands. Over 70 years later, Stevens' recall remains clear. Stevens passed away on 1 January 2018.
Ada (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. When her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill) sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. An especially big hit in Europe, Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush is the only NZ film to have won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Continuing her quest to help you effortlessly delight your houseguests, Jo Seagar unveils her secrets for a perfect Christmas drinks party in this debut episode of Jo Seagar’s Easy Peasy Xmas. Canapés are the order of the day, as she makes tandoori egg sandwiches and homemade crostini with caviar, before getting into mini toad in the hole and spicy popcorn noodle mix. Punch is on the menu (God forbid the guests go without a drink) before Christmas nut pies top off the evening. The episode was the first of three; it was later followed by a one-off Easter special.
In this Dave Garbett-directed Nesian Mystik music video a secret force of Polynesian Grey Lynn agents work to unify the community by taking their message to the streets, then to a television station. In scenes that showcase the band's sense of humour — and echoing a real-life 1995 takeover of One Network News by Māori protestors — the boys manage to take over the airwaves, where they transmit their own brand of 'Nesian programming: from master-chefing taro and bully beef to bro-senting the news. ‘Unity’ was a Top 10 single from the hit Polysaturated album.
A career in film promotions helped win Brian Holland a job programming films to screen on TVNZ. In his 12 years at the state broadcaster he moved from movies to general programming for TV2. Since leaving TVNZ he has worked for various production companies, developing a range of programming.
Seasoned stand-up comedian Rhys Darby played an inept band manager on cult hit Flight of the Conchords. It proved a springboard to wider fame. After acting in movies on both sides of the Atlantic, Darby starred in Kiwi rom com Love Birds. 2014 saw the debut of Darby's comedy show Short Poppies. He went on to act in the 2017 remake of Jumanji, and cameoed in local hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Peter Feeney is a veritable Swiss Army knife of the screen, with credits as an actor, casting director and acting tutor. Feeney's 20 year plus acting CV ranges from drama (as Rose-Noelle skipper John Glennie, in TV movie Abandoned), kids TV (The Cul de Sac), comedy (Auckland Daze), New Zealand-shot US shows (Spartacus), and film. He won rave reviews as a mad scientist in movie hit Black Sheep.