NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner selects some New Zealand television and film favourites from Christmases past.

New Zealand television has a fine tradition of Christmas specials - our entertainment series, children's programmes, current affairs shows, and even our nightly soap opera have all produced them over the years.

Shortland Street has celebrated many Christmases in its 22 years of existence, but one of the classics was the 1995 Christmas special, where a truck went through the clinic and popular character Carmen met a sudden and strange end.

You can see the 1995 Shortland Street Christmas special here:


The annual Holmes Christmas Party shows, usually staged live on top of the TVNZ building, also became the stuff of legend as they ran through the 1990s and into the 2000s. The late Sir Paul Holmes hosted the shows, and the guest-list was made up of the showbiz stars, sporting heroes, politicians, and everyday folk who had made the news in the preceding year. The 1997 show provided us with one of our most memorable TV moments when Sir Paul interviewed the Ingham Twins, who had become infamous over the course of the year after stowing away at sea. The shy young women's one word answers to Sir Paul's questions are classic accidental humour.

View Holmes - Christmas Party: Ingham Twins Interview here:
Holmes - Christmas Party: Ingham Twins Interview

Jason Gunn and his puppet sidekick Thingee had an easier ride with the interviewees for their 1992 Christmas special, who included Mark Leishman, singers Debbie Harwood and Kim Willoughby, and All Black Va'aiga "Inga the Winger" Tuigamala.

Advertisement

Watch The Son of a Gunn Show - Christmas Special here:
The Son of a Gunn Show - Christmas Special

As well as TV Christmas shows, we also have some Christmas-themed New Zealand feature films and shorts. This 2010 short film, directed by Tammy Davis (perhaps better known for playing Munter in Outrageous Fortune) won international awards, and is a sweet and moving Christmas tale about a teenage boy, tempted by peer pressure into breaking into a house. Everything changes when he and his mate find a baby left alone in the home.

View Ebony Society here:


For a rather more wild and rude approach to Christmas short filmmaking - try writer Wayne Ching's Preferably Blue from 2011. This CGI animated short stars both Santa and the Easter Bunny, but its take on festive spirit is far from cuddly. English comedian Harry Enfield voices the Easter Bunny, and a tattooed Santa channel's Withnail and I's Uncle Monty. Directed by Alan Dickson and made by Kiwi animation house Yukfoo, the black comedy screened at Tribeca and SXSW film festivals.

You can see Preferably Blue here:


To close this look at festive film and television, what else could it be but this special Goodnight Kiwi Christmas animation - made by TVNZ in 2008, but faithful to the original.

See Goodnight Kiwi Christmas here:
Goodnight Kiwi Christmas

For a more comprehensive look at Christmas-flavoured New Zealand television and film, check out NZ On Screen's full Christmas collection.

- nzherald.co.nz