The man regarded as the "voice" of New Zealand's longest-running television show, Country Calendar, has died not long after the show celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Frank Torley, 75, died peacefully on Saturday morning after a short, sharp battle with cancer, his former employer TVNZ reports.

He retired as the narrator on Country Calendar last month because of problems with his vocal cords.

The rural-focused show celebrated its 50th year earlier this month.


According to his NZ On Screen biography, Torley's career in rural broadcasting began in 1965 with a chance meeting with friend and then broadcaster Colin Follas at the Feilding saleyards.

Follas asked Torley to do a voice test and a year later he was on the ground when Country Calendar started.

By 1980 he was the show's producer, and soon after became executive producer for TVNZ's rural programs.

He also fronted Top Town with Craig Little in the early 1980s amid other television projects.

Torley's boyhood ambition of farm ownership was eventually realised with a lifestyle block in the Rangitikei. The first Country Calendar episode of 2011 put Torley on the receiving end of the camera for a change.

He is survived by wife Jenny, son Mark and daughter Bridget, TVNZ reports.