50 Years of New Zealand Television: 1 - From One Channel to One Hundred

Television, 2010 (Full Length Episode)

The opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television travels from an opening night puppet show in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ On Air, Sky and Māori Television). Many of the major players are interviewed. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within the story.

Public Eye - First Episode

Television, 1988 (Excerpts)

Inspired by the British series Spitting Image, Gibson Group's Public Eye features latex puppets based on drawings by cartoonist Trace Hodgson and built by a team headed by future Weta FX maestro, Richard Taylor. Highlights from the first episode include a boxing match between former finance minister Ruth Richardson and Winston Peters; Helen Clark's attempts to convince a bunch of labour party ministers to enforce a ban on pornography; and cricketer Richard Hadlee's failure to promote a life insurance company while being interviewed by Keith Quinn.

Her Hairagami Set

The Brunettes, Music Video, 2007

This award-winning puppetry/comic book creation follows a put upon heroine enduring jibes from the cool crowd about her hairstyle. She resolves to rectify her situation using a new 'Hairagami Set'. The video was created by duo Trophy Wife (Ian and Rebecca Hart), who later revealed that the Hairzilla monster was a late addition, after US record label Sub Pop felt uncomfortable with "school shooting imagery". The clip won Best Music Video at the 2008 Vodafone NZ Music Awards. Check out the true to life puppets of band members Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield.

Series

You and Me

Television, 1993–1998

The irrepressible Suzy Cato (who previously presented TV3's Early Bird Show and 3pm) presents a programme for pre-schoolers. From a set designed to look like a house with bathroom, bedroom and live garden, Suzy talks directly to her audience and makes extensive use of te reo. A multi-cultural focus also comes through in the show's stories, songs, animations and puppetry. Suzy's on-set companions are a doll, teddy bear, clown and scarecrow — and a sock puppet family makes regular appearances. More than 2000 episodes were made in eight years.   

You and Me - The Farm

Television, 1997 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of her TV3 series for pre-schoolers, Suzy Cato creates a farm in her garden and uses songs, stories and animations to introduce a variety of animals. Chickens cluck, a mother pig and her three piglets bathe in mud, frogs catch flies with their tongues — and one of the chickens strays into the family of frogs and has to be returned home. Meanwhile, a baby bird hatches but can't immediately find its mother, the sock puppet family is seen in all of its extended glory and Suzy keeps proceedings moving with her ebullient friendliness.        

Neighbourhood - North Dunedin (Series One, Episode 10)

Television, 2012 (Full Length Episode)

In this series celebrating diversity in Kiwi neighbourhoods, former Highlanders prop Kees Meeuws introduces an eclectic mix of migrants who call North Dunedin home. Meeuws muses that the student-filled suburb "on a clear day, sparkles like the jewel in the crown of Dunedin". A Japanese student enriches his life by volunteering to help an elderly woman, a German jewellery designer explores identity in her creations, an Afghani family celebrate New Year's Day with a feast, and an eighth generation Indonesian puppet master shows off his snake-shaped dagger. 

You and Me - Going to School

Television, 1994 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode of her TV3 series for pre-schoolers, Suzy Cato uses songs, stories, animations and puppets to focus on a topic that will soon loom large for her audience — going to school. Suzy explores the mysteries of the schoolbag with its lunchbox and pencil case; and she tells a story about her own first day at school. A blackboard is used to name parts of the human body in English and Māori; and there are field inserts that take a bilingual look at different colours, and join a family preparing a picnic which they then take to the beach.   

Series

Woolly Valley

Television, 1982

The magpie quardle oodled and the narrator uttered, "Welcome to Woolly Valley", in the intro to this children's TV classic. The low-tech puppet show with its rustic charm was familiar to a generation of kids who grew up in the 80s. It follows the lives of woolly-haired farmer Wally and his long-suffering wife Beattie, who live with talking ewe Eunice. Also featured is hippie Tussock, voiced by Russell (Count Homogenized) Smith. Woolly Valley marked an early piece of screenwriting by children's writer Margaret Mahy.

Space Knights - The Golden Knight (First Episode)

Television, 1989 (Excerpts)

Ambitious kids' sci fi series Space Knights pitched the King Arthur myth into a zany universe of Knights of the Round Space Station, Vader-esque villains, rainbow rocket exhaust, and laser lance jousting. The distinctive look of this early South Pacific Pictures series — like a picture book come to life — was led by cartoonist Chris Slane who achieved it by using actors in life-size puppet suits and blue screen effects. In this excerpt, the evil Mordread creates an android Trojan horse to infiltrate Castle Spacelot. The 'Space Junk' theme song is by Dave Dobbyn.

A Girl to Watch Music By - Ray Columbus and Max Cryer

Television, 1969 (Excerpts)

Although made to showcase female singers, late 60s series A Girl to Watch Music By is possibly best remembered for the moment Ray Columbus became a puppet. In this episode host Columbus played ventriloquist's dummy, sitting on Max Cryer's knee. Wrote Cryer later in his book Town Cryer: "it looked very funny and we knew it and set to work on the choreography immediately." The song is called 'Where Would You Be Without Me'. The ventriloquist idea, which would be repeated again on rare "special occasions", was the brainchild of broadcaster Cherry Raymond.