Nearly mammal free, pre-human New Zealand was a land of birds, many of them found nowhere else. In Birdland, Jeremy Wells (Eating Media Lunch) explores all things avian in Aotearoa. In this opening episode he visits Hauraki Gulf island sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi and Christchurch’s Peacock Springs. Putting the wry into wrybill, Wells muses on manu matters from twitching to tākahe poop. Dominion Post’s Linda Burgess praised Mike Single's "marvellous camera work", and Wells’ celebration of ordinary people "who work to protect and enhance what we still have".
Jeremy Wells brings Kenneth Cumberland-seque authority to this 'alternative' version of Kiwi history, which was made by many of the team that worked on Eating Media Lunch. The Unauthorised History plumbs TV and history archives to poke fun at the pretence of the past (and present). This episode examines artefacts to do with sex and Aotearoa. With tongue planted in check (and in other places) Wells revisits everything from pole-dancing in the "hellhole of the Pacific" — colonial-era Russell — to randy Hutt Valley teenagers "getting laid" in the 1950s.
In this satire series presenter Jeremy Wells — channelling Kenneth B Cumberland (of Landmarks fame) — examines NZ history in a mock-revisionist manner, poking fun at the pretence of the past. From the makers of Eating Media Lunch, the show is self-described as “the most important series in the history of history”. Each episode tackles the big issues, including ‘Crime’, ‘Visitors’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘Evil’. The show draws its material mostly from television archive basements, with the odd piece of fakery and animation thrown in. Michael King this defiantly ain't!
American scientist Jared Diamond described Aotearoa’s animal life as the “nearest approach to life on another planet” because of its distinctive evolution. With few mammals, New Zealand before people was ‘birdland’. This 2009 series sees presenter Jeremy Wells (Eating Media Lunch) train his binoculars on birds, and meet the flocks of human Kiwis (twitchers, bird nerds, conservationists) who follow them. Produced by company Great Southern Television, Birdland screened in a primetime slot on TV One. Steve Braunias (author of How to Watch a Bird) was one of the scriptwriters.
John Leigh is one of NZ's most versatile and experienced actors, with over 40 NZ TV and film credits to his name, including roles in Outrageous Fortune, Serial Killers, Stickmen, Shortland Street and Mercy Peak, plus numerous theatre and voice-over appearances. From early beginnings in the Wellington theatre scene through his first major TV role as Lionel Skeggins on Shortland Street, he is a familiar face on NZ stage and screen. His talents also extend to voice-over with several character appearances on Power Rangers, along with numerous advertising campaigns.
The moment Thingee's eye popped out has become a legendary event in Kiwi television history, as an unflappable Jason Gunn continues hosting duties, despite his co-presenter being in a spot of bother. The ocular incident occurred during filming of The Son of a Gunn Show. Although some swear they saw it happen live, the moment did not go to air until weeks after the event — on a nighttime bloopers show. Thingee debuted on After School and appeared in several children's shows, including What Now?. He retired from New Zealand television after returning to his home planet.
Jeremy ‘Newsboy' Wells came to fame as sidekick to Mikey Havoc on a series of joyously silly radio and TV shows. In 2003 Wells began presenting seven seasons of satirical show Eating Media Lunch. He later brought his wry presenting style — dial turned to 'deadpan' — to The Unauthorised History of New Zealand and Birdland. In 2018 he joined Hilary Barry as co-host of primetime show Seven Sharp.
Television producer Philip Smith made his name with a stable of internationally-successful sports programmes. These days, as head of production company Great Southern Film and Television, he has been expanding from comic shows like Eating Media Lunch into other fields — including reality shows (Rescue 1), Moa-nominated telemovie The Kick and 2008 movie Apron Strings.
Paul Casserly won a Qantas TV Award in 2009 for directing upstart satirical show Eating Media Lunch. The show ran for six years on TVNZ. Casserly continued his creative partnership with presenter Jeremy Wells on The Unauthorised History of New Zealand and Birdland. Casserly has also directed music programmes for Neil Finn and Bic Runga, and videos for Greg Johnson, Tim Finn, and his own group Strawpeople.
Jonathan Brough's short films have screened at Cannes, Edinburgh and America's Slamdance Film Festival. His directing CV includes episodes of Outrageous Fortune, the acclaimed The Insiders Guide to Happiness and mockumentary The Pretender, followed by a run of acclaimed Australian TV comedies (Rosehaven, The Family Law). He also edited award-winning documentary Colin McCahon: I Am.