In 25 years there have been 48 deaths, 42 weddings and 23 babies born on New Zealand's longest-running serial drama. On Thursday, the 25th anniversary of the show, fans will be treated to one of the most explosive feature-length episodes in its history as familiar faces return to celebrate Chris Warner's 50th birthday.

A is for Ambulance

A pivotal piece of equipment in any hospital environment, ambulances have played a significant part in Shorty St storylines over 25 years, not to mention those involving inappropriate behaviour in ambulances.

B is for bad girls

Shorty St

has had many such characters over the years but perhaps one of the most notorious of all the bad girls to come through Ferndale was McKenzie Choat who, among other things, drugged her teenage stepson, blew up the clinic, embezzled hospital funds and murdered her arch-nemesis.

It's also for babies - 23 core cast and major guest characters have given birth in the 25 years the show has been running.


C is for Cliffhangers

Shorty St

Christmas cliffhangers have become a New Zealand television tradition. Designed to bring the audience back after the long summer break, they are carefully planned so that several key storylines come to a climax in the last episode of the year. And the show's producers usually pull out a major, unexpected ­cliffhanger - an explosion, a plane crash, a boat accident - for the big finale.

C is also for the so-called "Shorty St curse". Over the years, many real-life events have coincided with storylines in the soap - which is uncanny, given that the storylines are decided four months before broadcast. But earthquakes, power cuts and more have seen life imitating art.

D is for Death

Death is a daily occurrence for hospital staff, and Ferndale locals have also had their fair share. There have been 48 deaths of core cast and major guest stars over 25 years, which comes to almost two farewells a year. It's also for doctor - the longest-lasting medic is Dr Chris Warner, who was part of the original team when Shorty St turned up in 1992. He took a four-year break in the late 1990s, but returned in 2000 and has been with the show since.

E is for episodes

E is for episodes. Photo / Supplied
E is for episodes. Photo / Supplied

When the 90-minute episode goes to air to celebrate the 25th anniversary, Shortland Street will have reached 6425 episodes. E is also for Ed Sheeran - Shorty St's biggest international cameo appearance in May 2014. And E is also for explosions - buildings, cars, baches, boats, planes, helicopters and houses have been blown up over 25 years.

F is for Ferndale

The fictional suburb of Auckland where the hospital is located and where most of its staff live. And for Fiji where the show is hugely popular in a prime time slot and much of the island shuts down to watch. The show has filmed on location there several times, too.

G is for Guatemala

The line that even non-fans can recite - "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata" - was originally cut from the script because it was deemed too silly, but was reinstated at the last minute. Now it's an iconic piece of New Zealand television history.

H is for hospital

When TVNZ was looking to start a serial drama in the early 1990s, cops, doctors and lawyers were the starting point. The hospital won the vote as it was an environment where characters could be introduced quickly, and the life and death setting would allow for great storylines about patients and staff.


I is for issues

I is for issues. Photo / Supplied
I is for issues. Photo / Supplied

Tackling topics ranging from divorce, teen pregnancy, depression, LGBTQI rights, racism, homelessness, euthanasia and drug and alcohol abuse to themes of everyday relationships, friendships and the business of running a busy hospital, Shorty St touches on issues that reflect society and that help to start everyday conversations about issues that need attention.

J is for Joey Henderson

J is for Joey Henderson. Photo / Supplied
J is for Joey Henderson. Photo / Supplied

When the shy and awkward nurse arrived in 2007, nobody could have expected he would turn out to become one of the most notorious villains in the history of the show. By the time of his demise in early 2008, Nurse Henderson had killed five staff members, as well as attempting to top several others.

K is for kidnap

K is for kidnap. Photo / Supplied
K is for kidnap. Photo / Supplied

There have been many on the show, but one of the most infamous was that of Chris Warner by his half brother Dominic (Shane Cortese). Chris was strung up in an abandoned hunting lodge and doused with petrol. His partner Toni arrived just in time to save him - but Dom met a grisly end.

L is for lesbian relationship

L is for lesbian relationship. Photo / Supplied
L is for lesbian relationship. Photo / Supplied

Not everyone was pleased when the show portrayed its first lesbian relationship in 1994. A kiss between Meredith Fleming and Annie Flynn generated several complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority from people who argued that timeslot was too early. None were upheld.

There have been many more lesbian couples on Shorty St, but perhaps the most popular was Maia and Jay. More than 500,000 viewers tuned in to watch a Valentine's Day civil union between the couple.

M is for musical

An ill-fated musical episode of the show was months in the making. Unfortunately, barely anyone watched the episode as it was scheduled to play out on September 11, 2001 - the same day planes crashed into the Twin Towers.

M is also for make-up - the team behind the scenes creates scars, bruises, tattoos, open wounds and more. Continuity is important so scars and bruising heal convincingly over a number of days. The make-up artists use a fake-blood recipe that includes golden syrup for the right texture.

Weet-Bix and cornflakes are used to create masterful scabs; rice bubbles double as warts and cold sores, honey is convincing as pus, and babies are covered in strawberry jam for shooting birth scenes.

M is also for Marj, the big-hearted office gossip who keeps coming back for more episodes.

N is for nurses

N is for nurses. Photo / Supplied
N is for nurses. Photo / Supplied

Another incredibly important team of staff members at the hospital are the nurses.

O is for operation

It wouldn't be a hospital without them. And it wouldn't be Shorty St without many becoming life or death dramas.

P is for penis-gate

The social media world went nuts in February this year when an episode of Shorty St saw Chris Warner exclaim to his son Harry: "Please tell me this is not your penis?" Now known as penis-gate, the scene from the show went viral across the world. P is also for Paul Holmes. The broadcaster appeared on the show twice - once as himself, and once as a member of the Ferndale Amateur Dramatic Society.

Q is for quick turnaround TV

Shorty St

is one of the fastest turnaround serial drama series in the world. The show shoots the equivalent of an episode a day, meaning the pace is furious and cast and crew must be prepared.

R is for romance

A pivotal part of any serial. Dr Chris Warner, aka Dr Love, has been a strong contender in the romance department from the outset and 25 years on boasts four wives and six children from four different women - not necessarily the same women as were his wives.

S is for Sarah Potts. Photo / Supplied
S is for Sarah Potts. Photo / Supplied

S is for Sarah Potts

Arguably one of the most heartbreaking deaths in the show's history was that of Dr Sarah Potts (Amanda Billing). She had appeared on the show for 10 years, so fans were shocked when a superbug claimed her in 2014. No one saw it coming.

T is for tachycardia

Tachycardia refers to a fast resting heart rate - usually at least 100 beats a minute. Patients who arrive in ED with it are generally in a bad way and a cause for great concern for the doctors.

U is for Urban

Karl Urban's Shorty St character Jamie Forrest had the privilege of being the show's first openly gay character back in 1993. From Shortland Street to Hollywood!

V is for vomit

Vomit storylines are a source of entertainment for the actors as they try to out-do each other in the vomit noise-making department. The art department make their own fake vomit, sometime using canned tropical fruit salad. A quick blend (not too much or you'll lose those chunky bits) and you are ready to go. Savoury vomit is usually chicken soup.

W is for weddings

Everyone loves a good wedding. And all of New Zealand loves a good Shortland Street wedding, where there is inevitably just as much drama and mayhem as there is romance. One of the most dramatic occurred in the 2015 cliffhanger - the society wedding of the year as Harper geared up to marry Boyd Rolleston. Despite some reservations from the bride, and some negativity about the bride's suitability from Boyd's mother, the nuptials were all set. But it wasn't to be.

A horrific siege at the hospital cafeteria put a halt to the plans.

Blissfully unaware of the drama taking place at the hospital, lovebirds Dayna and George arrived at the wedding to find it lacking a bride and groom.

Deciding to make the most of the available wedding venue, they threw caution to the wind and said "I do" with well-known musical trio Sol3 Mio as their witnesses.

The most-anticipated wedding was Chris and Rachel's - which audiences had been waiting close to 20 years to see. After years together, and apart, the pair finally wed in front of friends and family at a beautiful West Ferndale venue.

X is for x-ray

Where there are broken bones, there are x-rays. Enough said.

Y is for young actors

Shorty St

has long been considered a training ground for young actors - many who have gone on to enjoy massive careers here and abroad.

One of the most famous young actors who learned the tricks of the trade there is Martin Henderson, who played teenager Stuart Neilson in the early days of the show. He is now starring in the hit series Grey's Anatomy. More recent examples are KJ Apa, who played Kane Jenkins and has a lead role as Archie in American series Riverdale and is receiving rave reviews, and Frankie Adams who is starring in Canadian sci-fi series The Expanse.

Z is for zombies

Not something you'd normally see on a serial drama based in a hospital, but in 2016 the make-up department went all-out for the Halloween episode and the results were superb. Dr Boyd Rolleston, who was dealing with drug trials at the time, began suffering from bizarre hallucinations that saw him encounter zombies and imagine people coming back from the dead.