NZ On Screen's Nicky Harrop opens the vaults and dusts off some classic Kiwi shows that launched in the 1970s.
The decade of fondue and flares was a big one for New Zealand, especially when it came to television. Not only did we become a nation with (count 'em) two channels, our living rooms began exploding into glorious colour, as black and white slowly became a thing of the past. We also (slowly) began to get used to hearing our own accent on screen, heralded by the arrival of some great local programmes.
Originally hosted by Selwyn Toogood, It's in the Bag began life as a radio series, before making the leap to television in 1973. The show travelled throughout New Zealand, plucking competitors from a live audience, who had to answer three questions before selecting a bag, and bargaining for an unknown prize detailed within. This 1974 episode from Dunedin has a Frigidaire "Jet-o-matic" Home Laundry up for grabs, but sees one not-so-lucky winner take home a vegetable peeler instead. During his 13-year run with the show, Toogood was accompanied by a series of glamorous "bag lady" sidekicks, and his signature catchphrases "by hokey!" and, "what'll it be customers, the money or the bag?" became the stuff of legend. After his retirement, John Hawkesby took over hosting duties, followed later by Nick Tansley. In 2009, the show was given a reboot by Maori Television, with Pio Terei as host and Stacey Daniels Morrison as "bag lady".
Watch a 1974 episode of It's in the Bag here:
First screening in 1975, local soap Close To Home ran for eight years, with nearly a million viewers tuning in twice weekly to watch it at its peak. Holding a mirror to middle New Zealand, the show followed the life and times of Wellington's Hearte clan. This first episode sees the family gathering for Grandfather Hearte's 78th birthday, and introduces us to Kiwi TV faves Ilona Rodgers (Gloss) and John Bach (Roche).
Watch the debut episode of Close To Home here:
Bouncing on to screens in 1975, music show Ready to Roll originally hosted live bands and dancers in-studio, before morphing into a Top 20 countdown with the arrival of the 80s music video boom. Opening to the funky strains of The Commodores' Machine Gun, the show was appointment Saturday evening viewing, and regularly rated among the country's most watched.
Watch the opening sequence for Ready to Roll here:
1975 also saw the arrival of legendary pro-wrestling show On the Mat. Each half-hour episode featured bouts accompanied by commentary - promoter Steve Rickard described technical detail, while Ernie Leonard, and later Barry Holland, added colour. The larger-than-life wrestlers were a mix of US imports and local characters: King Curtis, Samoan Joe, Aussie Larry O'Day, Rick Martel, and Sweet William and Brute Miller (soon to find fame as The Bushwackers). In this episode, Billy T James also makes an appearance, commenting on the authenticity of the in-the-ring proceedings.
Watch an episode of On the Mat here:
1976 delivered a pair who would turn cooking into comedy - Peter Hudson and David Halls. As famous for their on-screen spats as they were for their recipes, the celebrity chef couple ("are we gay - well we're certainly merry") battered and bickered their way through a decade of much-loved local television, before taking Hudson and Halls to the UK. This episode sees them whipping up creamy chicken crepes, and entertaining guests Pam Ayres and Acker Bilk.
Watch an episode of Hudson and Halls here:
Man. Dog. Sheep - an unlikely yet potent formula for Kiwi TV gold. In 1977, A Dog's Show began its 15-year run on New Zealand screens, possibly the only market in the world where coverage of sheep-dog trials could command prime time attention.
Remaining a strangely compelling watch, sharp-eared viewers may also recognise the show's theme tune - an instrumental of Flowers on the Wall - later included as a song on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.
Watch an episode of A Dog's Show here:
You can see more great local TV moments from the 70s here, in NZ On Screen's Collection.