NZ On Screen's Nicky Harrop revisits some awkward moments from our television history.

At the best of times, making live television can be a minefield, the potential for on-air disaster lying everywhere. Technical glitches, unruly guests, basic human error - a myriad of things can go wrong, all broadcast spontaneously to the nation, occasionally to the world. But sometimes, mishaps can generate TV gold, going on to upstage the intended content and taking on a life of their own.

On October 10th, 1992, New Zealand's version of game show Wheel of Fortune generated one of our most famous TV bloopers when, during a celebrity episode, David Tua briefly derailed proceedings by requesting the letter O - "for Awesome". After a short pause the show moved on, the hosts, perhaps wisely, choosing not to draw the future World Heavyweight title challenger's attention to his mishap. Not so the viewing audience, who swiftly elevated the incident into local TV folklore.

See David Tua on Wheel of Fortune here:

In 1994, local children's television took a somewhat sinister turn during an episode of The Son of a Gunn Show. Host Jason Gunn and puppet sidekick Thingee were in full flight entertaining the after-school crowd, when one of Thingee's eyes popped out if its socket. Ever the professionals, the pair soldiered on without missing a beat. The eye-opening footage didn't actually debut until a nighttime bloopers show, a few weeks after the event - but it remains imprinted in the minds of generation of Kiwis.

See Thingee's eye pop here:

Upstaging the 1983 crowning of our first ever Miss Universe was never going to be easy, but The Miss New Zealand Show 1984 managed to become just as memorable - for all the wrong reasons. After a promising start (including a dance routine set to Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun) the show encountered something of a hitch during a live broadcast segment, when host Peter Sinclair announced the wrong winner. After a swift swapping of sashes the real Miss New Zealand was eventually revealed - though not before some agonizing moments of on-air back peddling.


See an excerpt from The Miss New Zealand Show 1984 here:

During the 1974 Commonwealth Games, a classic New Zealand sports blooper was captured when, while holding a 187.5kg barbell over his head, weightlifter Graham May passed out and fell flat on his face. Mercifully uninjured, May went on to win gold in the super heavyweight (110kg+) division - but not before generating a TV legacy that would follow him for years. The mustachioed Kiwi's face-plant became a staple of blooper reels worldwide: from the long-running 'It's moments like these ...' Minties ad campaign to the title sequence for ABC's Wide World of Sports on US TV.

Watch Graham May's famous face-plant here:

Throughout the show's 15-year run, the annual Holmes Christmas party episodes, usually broadcast live from the roof of the TVNZ building, provided some great humorous moments - most of them intentional. 1997's guests included tearaway teenage twins Sarah and Joanne Ingham, who had whipped up a media frenzy earlier that year after stowing away on a Malaysian container vessel. Interviewed by Holmes at the party, the twins displayed their trademark laconic style, taking lack of enthusiasm to a whole new level with a series of stony-faced monosyllabic replies, while Sir Paul valiantly attempted to keep the conversation going. Excruciatingly brilliant viewing.

See the Ingham Twins at the Holmes 1997 Christmas episode here: