Nice One was a children's after school show that became a vehicle for presenter Stu Dennison's persona - Nice One Stu. Famous for its naughty jokes and pokes at authority, Nice One also featured singing, cooking, and craft.
Nice One's theme song 'Nice One Stu-y!' and Stu's thumbs-up salute became New Zealand popular culture icons, belying the three short years that the programme was on screen. The programme was initially called Gizago, but was renamed Nice One in 1977 after its first year on air.
Nice One's short duration (usually five-minutes) was extended to half an hour for its annual Christmas special. These specials are well worth viewing as great examples of 1970s entertainment television.
It's in the Bag host Selwyn Toogood did a turn in the 1977 christmas show as a slightly lecherous Santa, full of double entendre. Legendary current affairs host Brian Edwards appeared as a petulant schoolboy, and Stu's song and dance routine is unforgettable.
Sometime co-host Roger Gascoigne played the straight-laced foil to Stu's naughty character, though Gascoigne was never an official part of the show. Dennison explains how it started: "The character Nice One Stu I created when I was working on the music series Ready to Roll and The Grunt Machine [in] late 75 which Roger used to host."
"Roger was a perfect target to take the ‘micky' out of so I continued the relationship throughout the time the character existed. He was never an official part of the show. TV One used us both for events such as Xmas shows and Top Town."
Public reaction to the Stu character was mixed, as Dennison recalls, "Barry Shaw [then-NZ Herald TV critic] wrote some pretty savage stuff and some of the guardians of the English language said a few things. It became a bit of a debate publicly, but I had petitions from thousands of kids, parents and grandparents saying the opposite. The controversy certainly helped get me noticed and I am glad to say most [viewers] enjoyed the character for who he was."
Nice One's popularity was evident in the demand for products associated with the show. Alison Holst's recipe book sold 33,000 copies in 1978, largely due to her regular appearances on the show.
Nice One Stu was twice nominated for TV Personality of the Year awards, but Gascoigne won both times.
Nice One was produced at Avalon Studios, and went to air live and mostly ad-libbed. It screened on TV One opposite SPTV's Andrew Shaw, both vying for the younger audience. Interestingly both Stu and Andrew have remained in television, each reaching senior management positions within TVNZ.