Allan Martin was influential in television in both New Zealand and Australia. In the early 60s he helped the fledgling television arm of the BCNZ produce popular regional show Town and Around, and was a key player in the creation of ground-breaking current affairs series Compass. After time in Australian television, he returned to set up NZ's second TV channel South Pacific Television in 1975. Martin was later Director-General of TVNZ from 1980 to 1985.
This classic kids’ adventure tale follows a 13-year-old boy on a quest to find his father, missing amidst the 1860s Otago gold rush. When it launched in September 1976, the 13 part series was the most expensive local TV drama yet made. Under the reins of director Tom Parkinson, the series brandished unprecedented production values, and panned the Central Otago vistas for all their worth. Its huge local popularity was matched abroad (BBC screened it multiple times); it showed that NZ-made kids’ drama could be exported, and helped establish the new second television channel.
Backch@t was an award-winning magazine-style arts and culture show that appealed, right from the opening acid-jazz theme tune, to a literate late-90s arts audience. Fronted by media personality Bill Ralston, these excerpts from the first episode come out guns blazing with a debate by panellists about Tania Kovats's controversial artwork 'Virgin in a Condom', the sculpture that caused national upset when it was exhibited at Te Papa in 1998. Managing to keep a panel discussion convivial rather than confrontational, Ralston handles the catholic debate with aplomb.
Veteran newsman Richard Harman began his career at Auckland University student mag Craccum. As a long-time political reporter for TVNZ, he reported on the Rainbow Warrior bombing and the passing of the baton from Muldoon to Lange — also the subject of his award-winning documentary Five Days in July. In 1999 Harman founded company Front Page, where he launched current affairs shows Agenda and The Nation.
Tony Holden's producing and directing career spans generations of classic Kiwi comedy, from A Week of It, Gliding On, The Billy T James Show, to Spin Doctors. CEO of production company Comedia Pictures since 1985, Holden has also spent four years as TVNZ's manager of commissioning and production.
Bob Stenhouse, the first Kiwi animator to be nominated for an Academy Award, spent 12 years working for state television. After joining the Government’s National Film Unit in 1980, he made Oscar-nominated short The Frog, The Dog and the Devil. Stenhouse’s later films have included several Joy Cowley short stories, plus award-winning short The Orchard, a Japanese fable adapted to a New Zealand setting.
Peter Blake introduced more local content to popular music shows Ready to Roll and Radio with Pictures at a time when covers of overseas songs were the norm. The longtime musician began in television via 1970s music programme; Grunt Machine, and ended up in charge of a stable of shows. He has also composed music for everything from TV One's nightly News theme to drama Shark in the Park.
Michael Haigh gave up teaching to become a professional actor. A founding member of Wellington’s Circa Theatre, his TV legacy is the gruff office worker Jim in Roger Hall’s Gliding On — one of NZ television’s great comic characters and a role that won him a Feltex Award. He played Jim for five years and appeared in a number of other TV series and films (almost inevitably playing a policeman). Michael Haigh died in 1993.
Geoffrey Scott, MBE and OBE, oversaw the Government's National Film Unit for over 20 years, until his retirement in 1973. Scott began his film career playing piano over silent movies. During his command of the unit, the organisation won 141 awards.
Allan Martin, OBE, worked as a television executive on both sides of the Tasman, but had his roots in programme making. He began making TV in England in the early 60s. Returning home, he developed influential programmes for the NZBC in Compass and Town and Around. Headhunted by the ABC in Australia, he returned to NZ in 1975 to set up the new second channel, and later became Director-General of TVNZ.