Weekend Rewind: Country Calendar turns 50

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of much-loved TV show Country Calendar. NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop traces the history of our longest running series.
Country Calendar has been sharing New Zealanders' stories for 50 years.
Country Calendar has been sharing New Zealanders' stories for 50 years.

Fifty years represents a huge milestone in television, only a handful of shows around the world can claim the honour of having broadcast for so long. In that time, Country Calendar has carved a place in the heart of countless Kiwis, providing a window on rural life and showcasing the stories of those living on the land.

Ask Country Calendar viewers which shows they most remember, and inevitably the answer is "the spoofs". Occasionally the show would break from format to screen unannounced satirical episodes, profiling everything from fence-playing musical farmers, to radio-controlled sheep dogs and beyond. This Spoofs Special, fronted by former host Jim Hickey, brings together some of the highlights.

Watch the Country Calendar Spoofs Special here:

Country Calendar - Spoofs Special

Made to mark Country Calendar's 40th anniversary, this best-of episode focuses on four decades of change in New Zealand's agriculture community. Footage of high country musters and helicopter deer capture is intercut with longtime show reporters sharing their memories, and catch-ups with personalities featured in earlier seasons.

Watch 40 Years of Country Calendar here:

40 Years of Country Calendar

In 1953, Opiki's Godfrey Bowen set a world record, shearing 456 sheep in nine hours. This 1984 segment sees him return to Akers station with the Calendar crew, revealing his winning technique while flexing still-impressive biceps (23 inches in their prime!)

Watch Godfrey Bowen on Country Calendar here:

Country Calendar - Blow by Blow (Godfrey Bowen)

One of the legendary spoofs shows, this 1978 episode showcases a high fashion range for the rural sector. Combining style and practicality - including "after-five combinations" - the outfits are modeled by a gaggle of graceless farmers, while reporter Frank Torley adds his own sartorial note with an unfeasibly long shirt collar.

Watch Country Calendar - Rural Fashions here:

Country Calendar - Rural Fashions

In 1982, Country Cal went a little bit rock'n'roll with a profile on rock band Daggy and the Dickheads - world famous in Taihape. Shearers by day, rockers by night, the band discuss the hazards of mixing music and farming (sex, drugs and rock'n'roll not a great mix with early starts it appears), while rehearsing for their shot at the big time - an afternoon slot at 1982's Sweetwaters Festival.

Watch Daggy and the Dickheads here:

Country Calendar - Daggy and the Dickheads

Frank Torley is the embodiment of Country Calendar for many - he has variously narrated, directed, produced and reported for the show for more than 40 years. In this ScreenTalk interview he opens up on life behind the scenes of the show, and the joys of offering a front window into farming for the common man.

Watch Frank Torley's ScreenTalk interview here:

You can see more Country Calendar here.

- NZ Herald

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