The South Tonight was a Dunedin-filmed regional news show. In these excerpts, Martin Phillipps and The Chills return home from London, and find album Submarine Bells is number one; legendary local band Sneaky Feelings play a last gig; Velvet Underground muse Nico plays Orientation Week; a ball is filmed at Larnach Castle for TV series Hanlon; rhododendron nuts ramble at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, and Jim Mora visits the Danseys Pass Hotel. Finally there’s a survey of dingy student digs circa 1985 (when rents went as low as $14 a week).
The early 80s were the apex of the local beauty pageant — Lorraine Downes won Miss Universe in 1983, and more Kiwis watched the 1981 Miss New Zealand contest on TV than Charles and Di’s wedding. This 1984 Miss World New Zealand live telecast was legendary for host Peter Sinclair announcing the wrong winner (clip six). Miss Auckland Barbara McDowell’s runner up sash is swiftly swapped for a crown and she is (eventually) made the first part-Samoan Miss NZ. A retro delight is the beauties dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ in an Oamaru quarry.
For Kiwi-Chinese soldier Victor Low, World War I was fought mainly underground. Dunedin-born Low was a surveyor attached to the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, which created a network of caverns and tunnels in France before the Battle of Arras in April 1917. The complex was big enough to accommodate 12,000 soldiers and equipment. This episode of Great War Stories uses archive footage and modern laser scanning to map out the tunnels that still exist under the battlefield. Later, Low helped create the famous Bulford Kiwi which sits above Sling Camp in England.
The trenches of World War I represented warfare on a new scale and produced facial wounds in numbers never seen before. This Top Shelf doco examines the legacy of Sir Harold Gillies and Henry Pickerill — NZ surgeons who founded modern reconstructive plastic surgery while treating these injuries — and of Sir Archibald McIndoe and Rainsford Mowlem who continued this work during World War II. This excerpt focuses on Gillies and Pickerill, and the rediscovery of the remarkable surgical models, and watercolour paintings of their patients, they used as teaching aids.
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.
Pip Hall has written for TV's Skitz, Newsflash, Shortland Street and Jonah, penned a string of successful stage plays, and found the time to perform too. The daughter of playwright Roger Hall muses on many topics, including: Getting her first big laugh on stage at three-years-old, and the formative year she later spent watching "maybe 50, 60 shows in London" The talent that came out of the Allen Hall Theatre at Otago University Getting the chance to write for TV, when producer Dave Gibson shoulder-tapped her after a university show Learning from the impressive writing team on Skitz — which included Cal Wilson, Hori Ahipene, Jemaine Clement and David Fane The influence the Me Too movement is having on theatre
Te Radar (aka Andrew Lumsden) began his screen career competing on stand-up show A Bit More After 10.
Flying Nun band The Verlaines were formed by singer/guitarist Graeme Downes in 1981. In the band’s early years Downes was studying classical music at Otago University, and his songwriting features shifting tempos, eclectic instruments, and mentions of Nietzsche and French poet Paul Verlaine. These days Downes has a PhD and lectures at Otago. As with many Flying Nun bands of the era, The Verlaines won international recognition for their work, including Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus covering their classic 1983 single ‘Death and the Maiden’. In 2012 the band released their tenth album Untimely Meditations.
Formed at Otago University, with a name borrowed from a Roxy Music lyric, Netherworld Dancing Toys released their early records on Flying Nun — but their soul/Motown influences and brass section were an odd fit for the label famous for a different Dunedin sound. ‘For Today’, their career defining song, was released on Virgin in 1985. It featured guest vocalist Annie Crummer to devastating effect, was a top five hit and has become an enduring classic. The band was a five-time winner at the 1985 Music Awards and ‘For Today’ won that year’s APRA Silver Scroll. Lead singer Malcolm Black passed away in May 2019.
Six60 formed in Dunedin in 2006. The members had met at a Kora gig and discovered they shared a love of Kiwi music and a passion for making their own. Three of the group were Otago University students who flatted together. The flat, at number 660 on the notorious Castle Street, soon became their studio. Their self-titled debut album, co-produced with Tike Taane, was released in 2011 and spawned three Top 10 singles. The band won six awards at the 2012 NZ Music Awards, including best single for 'Don't Forget Your Roots'.