Telethon was a widely popular 24-hour live television spectacular aimed at securing donations from viewers for a charitable cause. The feel-good vibe of Telethon was infectious, appealing to both adults, kids (who were allowed to stay up in front of the telly) and willing celebs. This selection covers highlights from the 1981 Wellington Telethon (for International Year of the Disabled). Bob Parker, Selwyn Toogood, Ian Johnstone and host Peter Sinclair get goofy amongst smurfs, bagpipes, and talking belly-buttons. "Thank you very much for your kind donation!"
The Telethons in other countries were much shorter in duration. Here the small child with a recorder from Gore could get as much airtime as a major act from Auckland — that entertainment democracy is what gave it its charm. Schools and clubs got involved in the build-up months beforehand. It was this strange, crazy, wild, wonderful circus. God knows how many press-ups I had to do on national television.– Television veteran Andrew Shaw on New Zealand's Telethons, in the 1970s and 80s, The Australian Women's Weekly, 6 July 2015