With Westside newlyweds Cheryl and Wolf hitched and twins on the way, NZ On Screen's Zara Potts looks at famous New Zealand twins and finds that sometimes it takes two… baby.

Double the trouble but twice as nice. That's the old wisdom about twins and in our own history of famous twins, the saying would appear to be true.

We've had good twins (The Topps) and bad twins (Outrageous Fortune) and there seems to be something about twins that we, as a society, are fascinated by.

Twins have always been popular in television. The idea of duality and a good twin versus a bad twin is like catnip to screenwriters – forget sibling rivalry; nothing rivals twin rivalry for a good storyline.

The good twin/bad twin trope was excellently mined in Outrageous Fortune where twins were instrumental to the story. Actor Anthony Starr won multiple awards for his ability to play sly and idiotic at the same time – portraying both gormless Van and his cynical lawyer brother Jethro.


Watch the first episode of Outrageous Fortune here:

But what about when both twins are good? The Topp Twins show us that the idea of light and shadow is best left to fiction because in real life both twins can be as good as gold. Linda and Jules Topp may in fact be our most beloved twinset – they first arrived in our consciousness as protest singers and have since risen to be both national treasures and Dames.

Watch The Topp Twins - Highland Games here:

They didn't receive any honours for their antics, but Joanne and Sarah Ingham certainly got the nation's attention when they jumped overboard from an Indonesian freighter into shark-infested waters off Australia's Queensland Coast in 1997. Sticking to the old adage of 'never apologise, never explain', the notorious Ingham twins managed to do the impossible and leave Paul Holmes lost for words with their monosyllabic responses at his annual Christmas Party.

Watch the Ingham Twins at the Holmes Christmas Party here:

Twins have always had the power to fascinate us and this curiosity was explored in the documentary The Two of Us. Presented by singer Jackie Clarke, who is herself a twin, the documentary interviews twins who are romantically involved with twins, a family with twin sets of twins, and identical twins who can think each other's thoughts. Fun fact: fathers are often less able to tell twins apart.

Watch The Two of Us here:

Children's author, Maurice Gee, knew the power of twins – and so he invented the redheaded duo, Rachel and Theo, to battle the alien Wilberforces in his classic story Under the Mountain. The twins have both psychic powers and wonderful Kiwi accents in this episode of the show.

Watch Rachel and Theo in Under the Mountain – The Alien World Below here:

A worthy inclusion in New Zealand's 'cinema of unease' canon, director Garth Maxwell's 1993 Jack Be Nimble is a gothic horror focusing on twins Jack and Dora (late US actor Alexis Arquette and Kiwi Sarah Smuts-Kennedy) who are separated while young children; their adult reunion sees them battling the trauma of their past while being pursued by Jack's sadistic step sisters. Cue spooky music.

Watch the trailer for Jack Be Nimble here:

Another movie that won acclaim was The Strength of Water which was the big-screen debut of Māori playwright Briar Grace-Smith, and Pākehā director Armagan Ballantyne. The film centres on a 10-year-old twin brother and sister in an isolated part of the Hokianga, and the events that follow when they encounter a young stranger. The 2009 film won praise at both the Berlin and Rotterdam film festivals.

Watch excerpts from The Strength of Water here:

Traditional watchers of television may not have heard about Aroha Bridge – which is a 10-part satirical web series that follows a suburban hip hop band in the suburbs dreaming of stardom. Fraternal twins – control freak Kowhai and her stoner brother Monty - are the stars of the show, and there are guest appearances (in cartoon form) from Madeleine Sami and Frankie Stevens.

Watch the first episode of the web series Aroha Bridge here: