TVNZ 6's blog

Eric Clapton – Standing at the Crossroads Monday 29 October, 8.30pm

Hailed as one of the greatest guitarists of our time, called “God” by raving fans, rock legend Eric Clapton has had a life touched with greatness and tragedy. Standing at the Crossroads follows Clapton’s journey to the heights and depths of human experience, on TVNZ Showcase on TVNZ 6 at 8:30pm on Monday 29 October.

In an exclusive interview, and supported by unrivalled access to the Clapton archives, Standing at the Crossroads tells the story of this remarkable man, in his own words.
This documentary traces the music that helped shape a generation, as well as Clapton’s life-long battle with drug and alcohol addiction. His music is represented with performances of classic songs spanning his career, including Layla, White Room, Tears in Heaven, Change the World, and Badge.

There are also contributions from music legends who have shared the stage with Clapton, including Keith Richards, Robert Cray, John Lee Hooker, Mark Knopfler and Sting.

Standing at the Crossroads forms part of TVNZ Showcase’s music series at 8:30pm on Mondays.

Other titles to watch out for in coming weeks include Rediscovering Dave Brubeck, which traces the life of the jazz legend; and Joni Mitchell – Painting With Words and Pictures, which examines Mitchell’s artwork and songs.

Music lovers should watch out for TVNZ 6’s music specials during the week commencing Saturday 17 November, including programmes such as Johnny Cash – A Concert Behind Prison Walls, Ray Charles – Live in Edmonton, and What’s Going On? The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye.

Meet the Locals Daily, TVNZ Family

Some of New Zealand’s shyest, rarest and strangest inhabitants step into the limelight in Meet the Locals, a new series of bite-size documentaries showcasing our natural world, daily on TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6.

Commissioned by TVNZ in partnership with the Department of Conservation, Meet the Locals is an exciting series of four-minute shows featuring everything from electric fishing for our enigmatic native fish, to getting up close and personal with New Zealand’s mysterious short-tailed bats.
“Meet the Locals is designed to give New Zealand audiences a taste of the surprising and inspiring stories of their natural heritage and TVNZ is proud to present this special series for viewers of TVNZ 6, the first of our new digital channels,” says TVNZ Digital Commissioner Philippa Mossman.

“It is filmed throughout New Zealand, and showcases every aspect of conservation in New Zealand, including native wildlife, pest control, recreation opportunities and our cultural and historic heritage.”

Hosted by DOC’s Nicola Vallance, who regularly features on TV ONE’s Good Morning, Meet the Locals will showcase kiwi natives, local plants, local animals and the humans who love to look after them. The series features DOC staff, businesses, communities and individuals who are all involved in looking after our wildlife and wild places.

“This initiative is tremendous for DOC – allowing us to reach new audiences and grow awareness of just how easy it is to get into the wilds of New Zealand and see what millions of people travel here every year to experience,” says DOC Director-General, Al Morrison.

Travelling extensively throughout New Zealand, and filmed over four seasons, Meet the Locals will introduce viewers to New Zealand’s unique wild places, historic sites and native species.

George and Martha Daily, 9:30am and 1:30pm

Celebrated author/illustrator of children’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, brings another delight to kids with George and Martha, showing daily at 9:30am and 1:30pm on TVNZ Kidzone, on TVNZ 6.

This animated series, produced by Sendak, is based on the popular books by Sendak’s friend and children’s author James Marshall. It is the story of two best friends – two ditzy, down-to-earth hippos who share an enduring friendship that is sometimes trying, sometimes touching, but always a lot of fun.
Sendak is not only well-known for his children’s books, but has earned recognition and praise throughout his career as a designer for ballet and opera, and as a developer of plays, musicals and films based on his books.

He was also involved in Children’s Television Workshop during the development stages of much-loved TV series Sesame Street.

In George and Martha, Sendak teams up with other highly-acclaimed creative professionals: the lovable hippos are voiced by Academy Award-winner Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) and Canadian actress/comedienne Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Known for his quirky screen appearances, Lane is also fondly remembered as the voice of ‘Timon the meerkat’ in The Lion King, for which he teamed with Ernie Sabella (who voiced a warthog) on the movie’s extremely popular song Hakuna Matata.

Aside from playing Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Martin’s many screen credits include Wag the Dog, All I Want for Christmas, and The Producers.

The George and Martha episodes focus on the hippos’ experiences with everyday events. Surrounded by other animal friends, George and Martha are always learning the meaning of compromise and camaraderie.

The Private Life of a Masterpiece Friday 26 October, 8.30pm

Behind beautiful canvases and sculptures lie events and sagas that have shaped world history – from political revolutions, wartime escapes, and massive ego clashes, to intense financial wrangling. Tracing selected works of art from their genesis to their reception and beyond, the fascinating series The Private Life of a Masterpiece reveals the truth behind seminal works of art, Fridays at 8.30pm on TVNZ 6.

This BBC series illuminates little-known facts and makes surprising revelations about some of the world’s most famous artworks. Did you know that Leonardo’s jealousy of Michelangelo’s David led him to try and get it displayed in the most inconspicuous place possible? And that scrawled by an unknown hand in an upper corner of Munch’s The Scream are the words ‘can only have been painted by a madman’? All will be revealed in The Private Life of A Masterpiece.
This week (Friday 26 October at 8.30pm), the series looks at Don Francisco Goya’s famous painting The Third of May 1808.

In 1814, the King of Spain commissioned Goya, as the chief court painter to the Bourbon royal family, to depict Madrid’s defeat of the Napoleonic troops. But Goya broke with convention at the time, boldly placing the victims of war centre-stage, rather than glorifying the King, the army or the state.

The Private Life of A Masterpiece uncovers the full story of The Third of May 1808. It also looks at artists, whose work has been influenced by the painting, including Picasso, in his painting Guernica. Commentators include BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, art historian Juliet Wilson Bareau, Nigel Glendinning from the University of London, art critic Jonathan Jones and artists Leon Golub, Peter Howson and Robert Ballagh.

Other works examined in the series include Botticelli’s Primavera; Uccello’s Battle of San Romano; Salvador Dali’s The Christ of St John of the Cross; God’s Child by Gaugin; and Vermeer’s The Art of Painting, amongst many others.

For anyone who loved Simon Schama’s Power of Art, this is unmissable viewing.

Wild Thing – I Love You Starts Monday 22 October at 7pm

Stand-up comedian and Black Books actor Bill Bailey is the unlikely champion of endangered wildlife in a new series which blends wildlife documentary with reality TV show, starting Monday 22 October on TVNZ Family, on TVNZ 6.

In Wild Thing – I Love You, presenter Bill Bailey is joined by a team of experts on a mission to save some of the UK’s most vulnerable wildlife from human encroachment.
In each programme, Bailey and his team of experts respond to the call of a local animal enthusiast to solve an urgent wildlife crisis. They will investigate the problem, determine possible causes and will then brainstorm creative solutions.

The team is made up of eco-strategist Dusty Gedge as team leader; zoologist Dr Sasha Norris who provides information about the animals in question; and engineer Jem Stansifeld for building know-how and implementing any solutions.

They travel all over the UK in search of critters in peril. From increasing deer-vehicle accidents on the A35 in Hampshire, to the dislocation of a badger sett in Staffordshire, to an endangered group of porpoises in Cornwall, the team will investigate animal emergencies and deal with logistical nightmares.

Once called in to investigate the threat, the team will only have a short amount of time to meet the challenge and ensure the animals’ survival. Can they do it? Or will their furry friends’ existence remain under threat?

Bailey says humans are the biggest threat to the survival of Britain’s vulnerable wildlife: “Since childhood, I have been interested in animals and the countryside, partly due to growing up in the West Country, and also from being encouraged to be curious about our surroundings by my parents and grandparents.

“I’d love to get involved more with exactly the kind of projects we dealt with in the programme. I think ‘horrified’ is the word I’d use when I was told, in the badger programme, about the increase of badger-baiting. Badgers are taken from the wild and made to fight dogs, often in secret rooms in people’s houses. And to give the dogs an even chance, the badgers’ lower jaws are often removed. I don’t want to imagine how.”

Wild Thing – I Love You offers a fun and unique insight into the lives of animals in the spotlight. The programme looks at their habitats, lifecycle, feeding and mating habits as well as delving into the community and local area, studying its social history and looking back at how the specific habits of the animals have changed over the years.

The challenge is on: Will Bill and his team be able to save Britain’s wildlife?

You and Me Daily, at 6.05am, 10.05am and 2.05pm

Children’s presenter Suzy Cato has an international fan-base – viewers who have grown up with her engaging on-screen presence. Now she’s back on TV, with You and Me playing on TVNZ Kidzone, on TVNZ 6, daily.

“I think it’s wonderful that You and Me is back on TV,” says Suzy. “Sure we finished making the programme just on 10 years ago, but by the numbers of children still watching the programme on DVD, not only in New Zealand but around the world, it’s proof that what worked then can still work now and our media savvy audience still enjoys the simple things.”
You and Me first screened in 1993, followed by over 2000 other episodes which were produced in the following seven years.

“Children’s television has the potential to be so much more than adult’s television – often as a kid the presenters you watch are who you aspire to be like, so as a children’s presenter you have the challenge to connect with the viewer and provide them a good role model and/or a friend. I have wee friends around the world now and young parents whose children are watching the same programmes they used to watch as kids (now that’s a bit scary!).”

“The feedback was always so very good and the one-on-one interactivity was appreciated by all ages – especially the elderly who would ‘sit and have a cuppa with Suzy and a chuckle at her antics.’ I once heard from a businessman who, while home recuperating from the flu, was surprised that while channel surfing he ended up watching an entire episode of You and Me without feeling ‘nauseated’ the way some other kids programmes made him feel!”

Suzy now has two children of her own, Riley (2½ years) and Morgan (4 months). Riley sometimes watches her mum on DVD.

“Children are a very perceptive audience – if you don’t enjoy your role, are embarrassed about what you’re doing or have your mind on other things, the kids will pick up on that.”

Cato attributes the international success of You and Me to its scripting. “You and Me was designed, written and directed by qualified and experienced preschool teachers,” says Cato. “It is an interactive, educational entertainment experience that has been enjoyed by pre-schoolers all over the world.”

As well as being busy raising Riley and Morgan, Suzy continues to make children’s TV programmes, now through her own production company Treehut Productions. Currently she is producing a series which shares Blue Light community safety messages with children.

“It’s really important to have good quality local content – stuff that’s relevant and can help parents and kids in a creative, fun, educational way. TV can play a big role in helping parents and kids with ideas and examples.”

Cinema Of Unease Saturday 13 October, 8.30pm

Ex-pat New Zealand actor Sam Neill takes a personal journey through the history of New Zealand cinema, starting from the 1950s, in the documentary Cinema of Unease, on TVNZ 6 on Saturday 13 October at 8.30pm.

Neill grew up just down the road from the real-life murder that was the basis for Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures. He takes viewers back through his childhood in Christchurch to show what New Zealand was like in the 1950s and ’60s.
Growing up in this era, film was a night out and a part of the social fabric of society. The material on offer, however, was almost always foreign and New Zealanders liked it that way, hankering as they did to be ‘somewhere else’. These were the days of ‘bodgies’ and ‘troubled youth’ watching forbidden cinematic fruit (fast cars, shoot-em-ups and Jayne Mansfield).

Neill suggests that the release of Sleeping Dogs in 1977 (starring Neill and directed by Roger Donaldson), was a turning point in local cinema. Yet, like so many other New Zealand films, it centred around themes that would recur again and again in local films – a dark view of authority and a ‘man alone’.

Neill argues that New Zealand cinema reflects a lonely place, filled with madness and fear, from the work of early New Zealand directors like John O’Shea and John Laing, to films such as Once Were Warriors.

He points to the contrast with films that portrayed New Zealand as a picturesque place, epitomised by the release of the nationalistic scenic This is New Zealand (1970). This now-iconic film was produced by the National Film Unit while Neill worked there as a trainee director.

Neill sees cinema as a reflection of a nation. He sees the developing local film industry and audience acceptance of homegrown films as a measure of an emerging local identity and the gradual breakdown of the old cultural cringe.

This documentary is a very personal view into New Zealand’s national cinema. Whether or not viewers agree with his analysis of New Zealand as a place of psychological distress, his argument is worth watching.

What’s Good For You Thursdays, 7pm

Should you really drink eight glasses of water a day? Are automatic toothbrushes better than manual? Does eating chocolate really cause pimples? What’s Good For You, Thursdays at 7pm on TVNZ 6, is a fun lifestyle series that uses its hosts as guinea pigs to get to the truth behind many of life’s little mysteries.

The Australian series is hosted by actor Sigrid Thornton.
“Life is full of mysteries,” says Thornton. “Every day it seems another health scare pops up and often contradicts what we read in yesterday’s news. So that’s what we’re here for – to sort out the good health information from the misinformation and to answer your questions, big and small.”

Thornton says no issue is sacred or too small for them to investigate – the What’s Good For You team look into things such as hangover cures; whether sugar really does make kids hyperactive; why mosquitoes target some people and not others; and whether swimming after eating is really as bad as your mum told you.

“Water is one of the staples of life. We literally can’t live without it but have you ever stopped to think about the best way to drink it?

“For 10 per cent of the population – that’s two million Australians – insomnia isn’t just the odd sleepless night. It’s a constant condition that can damage health and happiness. So we road-test three of the top techniques in treating insomnia.”

“Each week we’ll sort the information from the misinformation — you’ll be surprised by what we discover!”

Fraggle Rock Daily, at 7.35am, 11.35am and 3.35pm

Fraggle Rock is one in a stable of classic, award-winning children’s television programmes, along with Sesame Street and The Muppets, filled with the creations of puppet-master Jim Henson. Beloved by a generation now in their 20s and 30s, Fraggle Rock is now back on New Zealand television daily on TVNZ Kidzone, on TVNZ 6, for a new generation of young Kiwi viewers.

In Fraggle Rock, Henson and his creative team wanted to depict an entertaining, imaginative new world for children, which would also reflect the real world with a relatively complex system of symbolic relationships.
The creatures of Fraggle Rock represent ‘races’ within the human world. Just like some humans, the furry, colourful Fraggles and green, pudgy Doozers don’t realise how interconnected and important everyone is to one another.

Through Fraggle Rock, Henson and his team hoped to help children learn about consequences and inherent difficulties of different actions and relationships, and to explore issues such as prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, the environment, and social conflict.

The show was a worldwide hit in the 1980s, with the theme song becoming a top 40 pop-hit in Britain.

The Truth About Climate Change Monday 8 October, 6.55pm

Glaciers are melting and ice shelves collapsing. Oceans are warming and threatening to engulf coastal areas. Around the world, strange weather patterns are affecting everyone.

In the two-part documentary, The Truth About Climate Change (Monday 8 October at 6.55pm on TVNZ 6), Sir David Attenborough finds out what impact climate change could have on the lives of humans and animals alike. He goes on a personal journey to discover how global warming is changing the world. Using personal insights from a long career observing the natural world, he scrutinises the evidence and asks crucial questions: Why is the planet warming? Are we responsible? What will happen? And what can we do?
“I am perfectly persuaded that the issue of global warming is a real one and we are headed for a great worsening of the conditions on this planet for life of all kinds,” says Attenborough. “I have no doubt whatsoever of the cause, which is the by-products of humanity’s activities, and therefore we should be curbing them.”

In Europe and the US, global warming has mobilised the greatest scientific collaboration since the Manhattan Project. Scientists are now pooling their resources to analyse the past, present and future, and find out why the world is warmer now than it has been in a thousand years – the three warmest years ever have been since 1998 – and to work out what’s going to happen.

In the first part of The Truth About Climate Change, Attenborough explores just how far climate change is altering our planet, from drought-stricken rainforest to declining numbers of polar bears, and from flooded homes to bleached coral.

Is the human race to blame? Attenborough investigates the greenhouse effect and establishes the links with carbon dioxide emissions. He searches for the evidence that human activities which are radically changing the climate, leaving the future of Earth largely up to us.

He looks forward, at the possible consequences for our children and grandchildren and how to stop it. While many of the effects of global warming are already irreversible, he asks what changes we can make as individuals and how great the reversal of carbon dioxide emissions needs to be to have any future impact.

This documentary is a call to action for everyone, from someone who cares passionately about the planet – and we can’t afford not to listen.