Captivating NZ Stories in 2015 season of Sunday Theatre


Some of New Zealand’s most dramatic stories are being brought to life this August, with a brand new season of Sunday Theatre dramas airing on TV ONE.

With the very best local writers, actors and directors at the helm, the season comprises four surprising and compelling true stories that are etched into the country’s history.

Funded by New Zealand on Air (NZOA), How To Murder Your Wife; Venus and Mars; Abandoned; and The Monster of Mangatiti, will captivate viewers with dramatisations of incredible human stories.

TVNZ Head of Content, Jeff Latch says: “TV ONE is committed to broadcasting quality local dramas, and our Sunday Theatre seasons allow us to tell incredible New Zealand stories, and showcase the very best of production and acting talent.

“With thanks to NZOA, we’re able to continually bring viewers the very best drama productions the country has to offer.”

How To Murder Your Wife

The season leads with the multi-award winning How To Murder Your Wife starring Simon O’Connor and Geraldine Brophy.

In 1977, 65-year-old Alf Benning (O’Connor) conspired to murder his overbearing wife Betty (Brophy), but a set of outlandish plans and misadventures make Alf an unlikely and lovable murderer. His actions take us on a bizarre journey along with some of Wellington’s most notorious characters in this quirky black comedy.

Already critically acclaimed, How To Murder Your Wife was the winner of three awards at the New York City International Film Festival 2015; Best Comedy in a feature film, Best actress in a supporting role – Geraldine Brophy and Best Cinematography in a feature film.

Venus and Mars

Following on is the ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ Venus and Mars, starring Craig Hall, Ande Cunningham, Paul McLaughlin, Joel Tobeck and Sara Wiseman.

In October 1996, a young detective Brent Garner (Cunningham) is brutally attacked and his home burned down. The redidents of Palmerston North descend into fear and it appears the police are the target of a satanic avenger.

Investigation ‘Operation Venus’ is launched and as the facts unfold, a far more bizarre and twisted reality is revealed. Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Nicholls (Hall) suspects the avenger is one of his own, and instigates a secret operation ‘Mars’ with a handful of trusted colleagues. To discover the truth he must risk his career, his reputation, and friendship of his tight knit police community.


One of New Zealand’s most intriguing maritime survival stories will be brought to life in the enthralling Abandoned.

The Rose Noelle and four crewmen went missing in 1989. After a harrowing 119 days adrift at sea, they were cast ashore on Great Barrier Island, but their miraculous survival was only the beginning. A media frenzy developed and with it doubts around the veracity of their story.

International star Dominic Purcell (Prison Break) appears alongside local actors Greg Johnson, Peter Feeney and Owen Black to make up the core cast playing the crew who endured the terrifying voyage of the Rose Noelle and survived against all odds.

The Monster of Mangatiti

Bringing the season to a close is the poignant docu-drama The Monster of Mangatiti. Featuring Mark Mitchinson and Greta Gregory, the drama details the shocking ordeal endured by teenager Heather Walsh when she was held captive by a sexual predator over the winter of 1985.

When 19-year-old Heather accepted a job as a live-in tutor on a remote and idyllic farm in the Mangatiti Valley, she had no idea that paradise would become a nightmare. Initially charmed by 52-year-old Bill Cornelius, her stay with the family descended into a cycle of constant rape, beatings and threats of death.

Narrated by Heather herself, and inter-cut with her first person interview, it would take 23 years for her to bring her case to the courts – but justice would be bitter sweet.

Chief executive of NZOA, Jane Wrightson says: “The telefeatures and docu-dramas that screen within Sunday Theatre continue to provide a brilliant opportunity to tell diverse New Zealand stories. Audiences have loved the previous programmes and we have high hopes for this season”.

TV ONE’s Sunday Theatre will air this August.

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About the author

Mark Wasley

I am from Palmerston North and have my own website. I love keeping myself and Throng readers up-to-date with the latest in television news and upcoming programmes. For this reason and the fact I've been a long-time member on Throng, you'll see regular posts from me on the site. I hope you enjoy them!
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