This Is Not My Life

TV ONE’s This Is Not My Life has won three entertainment trophies at the 2011 Aotearoa Film and Television Awards (formerly Qantas Film and Television Awards), including the much-coveted Best Drama Programme prize. 

The show, which follows a man who wakes up in 2020 unable to recognise his wife and children, was written by multiple-award winners Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang (Go Girls, Nothing Trivial, Shortland Street, Outrageous Fortune) and also picked up trophies for Best Production Design (Tracey Collins) and Best Original Music (Don McGlashen).

Other big winners at the awards were TV ONE’s MasterChef New Zealand, which claimed Best Entertainment/ Factual Entertainment Programme, as well as Best Multi-camera Direction (Darryl McEwen), and TV ONE’s Sunday Theatre: Bloodlines, which picked up both Best Performance by an Actor (Mark Mitchison) and Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (Craig Hall).

In fact, three of a possible four acting accolades went to TVNZ shows, with Rena Owen winning Best Performance by a Supporting Actress for her role as Hine Ryan in Shortland Street.

“These fantastic wins really cap off a great year of achievements in drama and entertainment programming for us,” says TVNZ Head of TV ONE & TV 2 Jeff Latch. “Strong ratings have demonstrated that our commissioning and programming teams are continuing to purchase and schedule local programming that people want to watch. To have such strong viewer recognition backed up by critical acclaim is very pleasing.”

Other TVNZ entertainment shows that picked up awards included TV ONE’s What Really Happened: Waitangi (Best Director – Comedy/Drama for Peter Burger), Jesus, The Cold Case (Best Popular Documentary or Documentary Series) and The Waterfall (Best Editing Documentary/ Factual for Annie Collins).

However, it wasn’t just the general entertainment shows that contributed to TVNZ’s trophy cabinet. Strong wins in the News and Current Affairs category, including ONE News’ award for Best News, capped off the celebrations for the broadcaster. ONE News has now won the Best News award for an unprecedented four consecutive years.


TVNZ’s Aotearoa Film and Television Award winners 2011:

General Television Best Drama Programme This is Not My Life – Desert Road

Best Entertainment/ Factual Entertainment Programme MasterChef New Zealand – Imagination Television

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress Rena Owen – Shortland Street

Best Performance by an Actor Mark Mitchison – Bloodlines

Best Performance by a Supporting Actor Craig Hall – Bloodlines

Best Director – Drama/Comedy Peter Burger – What Really Happened: Waitangi

Best Multi-camera Direction Darryl McEwen – MasterChef New Zealand

Best Original Music Don McGlashen – This Is Not My Life

Best Production Design Tracey Collins – This Is Not My Life

Best Popular Documentary or Documentary Series – Jesus, The Cold Case- Red Sky Film and Television

Best Editing Documentary/Factual Annie Collins – The Waterfall

News and Current Affairs Best News -ONE News

Best Current Affairs Reporting for a Weekly Programme or One-off Current Affairs Special Amanda Millar and Joanne Mitchell – Sunday

Best Current Affairs Reporting for a Daily Programme Mark Crysell and Kate McCallum – Close Up

Best Current Affairs Camera Martin Anderson – 20/20 (Rite of Passage)

Best News Editing Paul Sparkes – ONE News (Special Report CCTV)

Best Current Affairs Editing Nick Reid – 20/20 (Sitting on a Killer)

The rights to TVNZ drama This Is Not My Life have been snapped up by American network ABC with plans in motion to create and American version of the show.

ABC purchased the rights to the drama series which screened on TV One last year and are well underway into preparing a local version to screen during the coveted summer season in the US.

TVNZ chose not to renew the series last year after it slipped in the ratings despite receiving glowing reviews from critics and strong interest on TVNZ’s On Demand website.

The show’s executive producer Steven O’Meagher says the deal is huge for NZ drama.

“We didn’t have to knock on many doors, there was a lot of demand for the show. It shows that our ideas are world-class and are as attractive to an international audience as they are to Kiwis,” he said.

O’Meagher hinted that the budget for the US version may be up to five times that of the original.

“One of the beauties of the American format will be just seeing what a larger budget will do on the screen. The key thing is that the spirit and the integrity of the New Zealand series is preserved. The American writers have been nothing but respectful and complimentary.”

The show’s creators Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang will work closely with the ABC producers and writers as they begin to develop the series for US audiences.

Season 1 of This is Not My Life is over now, so how did it fare in the ratings? 

It is rather unfortunate that the excellent season finale (shock! a twist I didn’t see coming) was up against the most incredible game of Netball in the history of the sport – the show ended on its lowest ratings of the season.

Here’s how the show compared with other local Kiwi shows’ first season ratings:

The season finale of This Is Not My Life has certainly created an opportunity for a second series if TVNZ want it.

After discovering that he and the other residents of the fictitious Waimoana had been given new identies and memories, Alec Ross/John Sheridan (Charles Measure) has unraveled the mystery for the past 13 weeks and in the season finale, finally managed to get beyond the border.

There are plenty of questions that writers Rachel Lang, Gavin Stawhan and Jason Daniels have left unanswered for a second season but it may come down to how comfortable TVNZ were with the ratings. The show didn’t necessarily get the ratings it perhaps should have but that may simply be put down to a poor programming decision to screen the show on TV One instead of TV2, something that may be rectified in 2011.

It was a bit slow to get started but once the story started to unfold, it became a much more interesting watch each week.  

There had been numerous comparisons with The Cult and how likeable the characters were but I think it’s fairly safe to say that by the end of TINML, most people cared about what happened to Alec/John.  Not knowing what happens after his escape and the wonder of what’s on the other side should provide the incentive for TVNZ to give it another shot.

What did you think of the season finale and the season overall?  Do you think it deserves another season?

8:30pm Thursday, October 14 on TV One

In the season finale of local drama series This Is Not My Life (tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE), Alec (Charles Mesure) has set his plan in motion to replace himself with old Alec and put things back the way they were before Harry changed everything.

However, Richard captures Anna (Sarah Owen) and tortures her, hoping to discover why Alec Ross is so important to the rebel organisation, Recall. Unaware the escape has been compromised, Alec continues with his plan. Meanwhile, Hope, still angry and upset at having been dumped by Alec, finally springs her revenge.

Meanwhile, Gordy refuses to let Jessica out of his sight but Alec manages to help her slip Gordy a sleeping pill, but their plan fails and Gordy intercepts Jessica as she tries to sneak out and a struggle ensues.

Alec has one last desperate plan for escape, meanwhile, Anna finally cracks and reveals Alec’s real identity. It’s now a race against time as Richard hunts down Alec.

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life? Full episodes are available online. Go to and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.

8:30pm Thursday, October 7 on TV One

From the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune , new local series This Is Not My Life is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell, tonight at 8.30pm on TV ONE.

In tonight’s episode, the old Alec Ross (Peter Feeney) has broken into Waiomana with some other RECALL terrorists to rescue John Sheridan (Mesure) but they are attacked. Old Alec wants his life and family back, but Callie (Wright) has no memory of him.

Alec realises that he has to find a way to set things straight before he leaves and hatches what he believes is the perfect plan. Gordy (Steven A Davis), deeply suspicious of Jessica’s (McDowell) movements, realises that Alec no longer has a chip implanted in his head and can’t be tracked so goes to Richard (Joel Tobeck) to stop him.

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life? Full episodes are available online. Go to and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.

8:30pm Thursday, September 30 on TV One

From the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune , new local series This Is Not My Life is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell.

In tonight’s episode, strange things are happening in peaceful Waimoana. There are uncharacteristic television news reports of a break-in and attempted sabotage by terrorists. Alec soon learns it’s a plan by Richard (Joel Tobeck) to unite the citizens, and as resident watch patrols are set up Stephen (Peter Muller) and others throw themself into it with gusto.

Dr Collins is not impressed, believing this goes against the principles of Eugene, that Waimoana is about security and happiness. Richard warns her not to get involved, and gains more power to see his plans through.

Meanwhile, Jessica is shocked to learn that she is pregnant, and unsure of who the father is, she can’t bring herself to tell Alec. Instead she helps him come up with a plan to escape.

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life? Full episodes are available online. Go to and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.

TVNZ has continued its roll-on from a successful Qantas Film and Television Awards ceremony last weekend by picking up a swag of awards for its promotional work.

The state broadcaster was recognised at the Promax/BDA ANZ awards which celebrate the best that that broadcasting world has to offer in terms of promo work.

At the Australia/NZ awards held in Sydney last weekend, TVNZ claimed two golds for its Hung billboard in the ‘Best Poster/Outdoor ad’ category and for the Shortland Street hammock promo in the ‘Best Drama Category’.

Silvers were won for This Is Not My Life in the ‘Best Drama Campaign’ and for Supernanny in the ‘Something For Nothing’ category.

Three bronzes were awarded to TVNZ for MasterChef NZ in ‘Best Leisure and Lifestyle Promo’, as well as Leigh Hart’s Mysterious Planet and Get More of What You Love.

Source: StopPress

8:30pm Thursday, September 16 on TV One

From the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune , new local series This Is Not My Life is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell.

A new television production company was created to make This Is Not Your Life, one that has a host of New Zealand film and television luminaries behind it.

GRST is a company headed up by series writers and creators Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang, and executive producers Steven O’Meagher and Tim White.

O’Meagher explains how the company came to be, “after the release of Out Of The Blue, Tim and I were looking to get into high end television, to do something that was different from what we’d seen before, coincidentally Gavin and Tim had lunch together and Gavin suggested there was a project he and Rachel had been working on for some time. So one thing lead to another.”

“I was attracted to the idea’s cleanliness of thought. There’s a mystery – who is Alec Ross? A guy who wakes up, doesn’t know his wife, doesn’t know his children, doesn’t know his world, doesn’t know anything about himself. And there is no one answer, there is a multi level one, which is intriguing.”

He continues, “Gavin and Rachel, without a shadow of a doubt, are amongst New Zealand’s top two or three screen writers. They’ve got time on the beat, they really know how to deliver professional scripts. Scripts that have characters around a dialogue that’s realistic and also achievable within the tight and pretty restrained New Zealand financing restrictions.”

Steven says co-director Robert Sarkie brought a cinematic quality which was balanced by co-director Peter Salmon’s wealth of television experience. “I think the difference between high end television drama and feature films is narrowing by the day.”

In tonight’s episode, Alec( Mesure) is ushered in to meet with a Eugene Corporation board member who turns out to be a man he recognises and who claims to have hidden Alec in Waimoana for his own good, but won’t elaborate. He’s offered the chance to leave, but is thrown when told that he can’t take Jessica (McDowell) with him, and that his ‘real wife’, Sarah, is waiting to meet them on the outside.

Richard (Joel Tobeck) is suspicious of Alec’s newfound relationship with the corporation and after digging deeper, he is cornered by Alec’s Eugene Corporation ally. Realising Dr Collins (Tania Nolan) has exposed him, Richard threatens her. Alec is poised to leave Waimoana when he discovers a hidden message from his real wife, Sarah, warning him not to trust anyone on the inside.

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life? Full episodes are available online. Go to and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.

9:15pm Thursday, September 2 on TV One

From the creators of Go Girls and Outrageous Fortune , new local series This Is Not My Life is an absorbing new mystery drama starring Charles Mesure, Tandi Wright, and Miriama McDowell.

This Is Not My Life originally started life as an idea for a teen series, but it soon took on a grown-up life of its own, evolving as its creators developed their world and characters.

Co-creator and writer Rachel Lang explains, “it’s been a long process because it’s a mystery series with unfolding clues. It’s taken us quite a lot of hard work and brain power to kind of tease it out.”

“When we first started working on the series a couple of years ago there was the huge drought in Australia, while it was still raining in New Zealand. Various articles were saying future wars will not over oil, they’ll be over water. So we decided that in New Zealand in the future, water would be a precious resource and one that could be exported.” says Lang.

She says it is just one of many ideas they toyed with – taking existing situations and technology and extending it out to a logical conclusion. “Some of the main ideas in This Is Not My Life are whether it’s better to be happy or to know the truth; whether there is such a thing as freedom; and how much you are the sum of your memories or how much your own personality will start to come through. Can you really change people in this way? So that’s one of the fun things to play with is how much people know about themselves or believe about themselves. And if your memories, are not your memories are you still you?”

“We were also interested in revisiting that kind of paranoia like The Prisoner, of someone living a perfect life and then discovering it wasn’t theirs. It was quite interesting to thrash out because with this kind of thriller idea you saw a lot in the context of McCarthyism and the Cold War, about Stalinism or Orwell’s 1984. Those sorts of ideas which were about rigid control.” Lang continues.

“But Waimoana is about freedom of choice, so even though, it’s about trying to make people better and happier through changing their thoughts, it is not to say that you can’t think what you want to within a certain boundary. I didn’t want this vision of New Zealand to be freaky, sci-fi, space suit country. I wanted it to look like now and just to have the odd thing that made you realise that this was a little different.”

Lang says Waimoana, the community in which the series protagonist, Alec Ross, wakes up and finds himself is a ‘perfect’ version of New Zealand. It is a well-ordered, clean, green, attractive community. It is very Kiwi and she is poking some gentle fun about the idea that New Zealand is the best little place in the whole wide world, the best place to raise children, the place you never want to leave.

“And if Waimoana is like a peaceful pond, then Alec’s the stone that gets dropped in that changes things for people. And as the ripples spread out from his agitation, he makes a real difference in people’s lives.”

In tonight’s episode, Gordy (Steve A Davis) should be on top of the world – he’s finally dating Jessica and he gets a job promotion – working for Security under Richard Foster (Joel Tobeck). But Gordy knows Jessica (McDowell) will never be happy until she learns who she really is. He now knows there is something rotten going on below the surface of happy, safe Waimoana.

Meanwhile, Alec (Mesure) feels trapped in the domestic humdrum, getting no closer to the truth. He misses Jessica, who wants him to accept that it’s hopeless between them, but also feels protective of Callie (Wright).

Gordy’s new job involves monitoring unusual movements of Waimoana residents. He’s unsettled by information he discovers about Security’s methods, but also realises he can use his position to find out more about Jessica and prove his worthiness. He and Alec form an unlikely alliance and break into the Security headquarters. Alec discovers two amazing facts – both and Jessica’s real identities. But before he can unlock more secrets, he is attacked.

Missed an episode of This Is Not My Life Full episodes are available online. Go to and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.