'close to home' Posts

Close to Home: New Zealand’s first TV soap opera…

Posted on 2 December 2013

Close to Home first screened on TV One in May 1975 and ran for eight years. The popular and ground-breaking series was New Zealand television's first soap opera. It was based in Wellington and centred around the trials and tribulations of the Hearte family. At its peak in 1977, Close to Home attracted a twice weekly audience of one million viewers.

In this special edition of ScreenTalk, writers and cast members reminisce about their time with Close to Home.

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



close to home, soap, soap opera, hearte family, television, tv

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John Callen: The distinctive voice behind Oin the Dwarf…

Posted on 22 April 2013

Actor and director John Callen has a voice that is hard to forget. Callen has appeared in a number of TV shows and films including Close to Home, The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior and, most recently, The Hobbit. His directing credits include Shortland Street, and the documentary series Epitaph and Taonga.

In this ScreenTalk, Callen talks about:

  • Why The Hobbit has been his most extraordinary job
  • Still enjoying a good fight despite being older than his contemporaries
  • How costuming proved to be a big hassle on the set, and a light moment with co-star Billy Connolly
  • How playing a murderer on Close to Home appealed to autograph hounds
  • The excitement of directing actors on Shortland Street
  • Enjoying directing 'real' stories for Epitaph
  • Learning about Māori history on the series Taonga
  • The challenge of re-writing scripts on war documentary The Kiwi Who Saved Britain

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



oin, dwarf, john callen, close to home, epitaph, the hobbit, shortland street, taonga, tv, film, the sinking of the rainbow warrior

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Fiona Samuel: Marching to success…

Posted on 10 December 2012

Fiona Samuel has found success as an actor, writer and director. Her first acting job was in long-running soap Close to Home, and she followed that with appearances in a number of film and TV shows. Samuel’s greatest passion, however, is for writing and directing. She was the creative force behind The Marching Girls, and has written scripts for shows such as Outrageous FortuneThe Almighty Johnsons and Rude Awakenings. Samuel also wrote and directed award-winning one-off dramas Piece of My Heart, and Bliss: The Beginning of Katherine Mansfield. In this ScreenTalk, Samuel talks about:

  • Being too theatrical on the set of Close to Home
  • Creating the concept for The Marching Girls
  • Discovering her scriptwriting skills needed an overhaul
  • Adding a prostitute to the original story in Home Movie
  • How a surprising statistic led her to create the documentary Virginity
  • Taking 10 years to get Piece of My Heart funded
  • The reasons she picked the main actresses
  • Bringing a fresh but authentic feel to Bliss
  • Wishing she’d had even more opportunities in her career
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



director, interview, rena owen, actor, writer, outrageous fortune, close to home, bliss, katherine mansfield, Screentalk, The Almighty Johnsons, the marching girls, fiona samuels, wude awakenings, piece of my heart, home movie

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Jeffrey Thomas: Close to Home, Shortland St and everything inbetween...

Posted on 24 April 2012

Actor Jeffrey Thomas has had a long and varied career in both TV and theatre. His best-known television role was as Inspector Brian Finn in the police series Shark in the Park. Thomas has also appeared in Mercy Peak, Shortland Street, Spartacus and Outrageous Fortune. He has just completed a small film role in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. In this ScreenTalk, Thomas talks about:

  • How Close to Home was the perfect place to hone his acting skills
  • Having lots of fun and laughter on the set of Gliding On
  • How being seen as a ‘leader’ got him the main role in Shark in the Park
  • How spending time with the police gave him the cues he needed for the role
  • Being mistaken for a real cop by a robbery victim
  • Loving the spectacle on the set of Hercules
  • Playing a dying man on Shortland Street
  • Enjoying working with John Hannah in Spartacus
  • The reason he can’t tell anyone about his experience on The Hobbit
  • Being surprised and humbled by his long career
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



interview, actor, outrageous fortune, close to home, shark in the park, mercy peak, Screentalk, gliding on, Jeffrey Thomas, inspector brian finn, the hobbit, spartacus

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Ken Blackburn: always the bad guy

Posted on 27 March 2012

Ken Blackburn is a British born actor and writer who emigrated to New Zealand as a child. In his long career, Blackburn has appeared in theatre and screen productions in New Zealand, Australia and Britain. He is best known in this country for his portrayal of The Boss in the popular sitcom Gliding On. His other TV credits include Close to Home, Hunter’s Gold, Moynihan and Shortland Street. His film credits include Skin Deep and Rest for the Wicked. In this ScreenTalk, Blackburn talks about:

  • Enjoying playing a devious lawyer on the soap Close to Home
  • Working on location in Central Otago for the series Hunter’s Gold
  • Wishing he’d bought the horse he worked with on the show
  • Playing the quintessential bureaucratic boss in Gliding On
  • How the actors were given freedom to add to the scripts
  • Having a hair dying mishap on the set of Sea Urchins
  • The joy of working with the three young Māori actors on the show
  • Feeling that the writers made his character too abrasive in Shortland Street
  • Narrowly escaping death jumping from a helicopter in The Grasscutter
  • Why working on Rest for the Wicked was like a reunion with mates
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



interview, actor, lord of the rings, shortland street, close to home, the grasscutter, rest for the wicked, Screentalk, Ken Blackburn, hunter’s gold, moynihan, gliding on, sea urchins

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Bruce Allpress: a Kiwi character

Posted on 8 February 2012

Veteran actor Bruce Allpress has had a long career in theatre, film and television. His television credits include Close to Home, Hanlon, Shark in the Park, Duggan, The Cult, and the lead role in the series Jocko. His many film appearances include The Piano, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and, most recently, Rest for the Wicked. In this ScreenTalk interview, Allpress talks about:

  • Getting a dressing down from a producer on the set of Close to Home
  • How being ‘laconic’ at his audition got him the lead role in Jocko
  • Having to learn how to use a bullwhip in four days for the show
  • How the character of Jocko was a quintessential New Zealand character
  • What happened when his mate Ian Mune lost control of a horse on set
  • Getting the role of Sparky on Mortimer’s Patch by removing his teeth
  • Almost wrecking a camera while riding a quad bike on Duggan
  • Finding The Piano an odd film to be in
  • Not really understanding his role in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Acting with his ‘over 60s mates’ in the film Rest for the Wicked
  • How the best has yet to come in his career
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



actor, lord of the rings, the cult, close to home, shark in the park, ian mune, mortimer's patch, bruce all press, hanlon, duggan, jocko, the piano, the two towers, rest for the wicked, veteran, bruce allpress

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Jim Moriarty on getting back on the horse

Posted on 13 December 2011

Actor Jim Moriarty cut his teeth on the early dramas Pukemanu and Close to Home, then went on to appear in a number of other TV projects such as Inside Straight and City Life. He has starred in films The Strength of Water, No Petrol No Diesel, and played Jesus in Saving Grace. As well as acting, Moriarty has directed in television and theatre, and works with at risk Māori youth. In this ScreenTalk, Moriarty talks about:

  • How actors were allowed to help develop the scripts on Close to Home
  • Incorporating political and social issues into the show
  • Being thrown from a horse on the set of The Lie of the Land
  • Making ‘love’ the central focus of playing Jesus in Saving Grace
  • Being give the freedom to improvise while making The Waimate Conspiracy
  • How the film No Petrol No Diesel gave at risk youth a chance of participating in the industry
  • Having an emotional reaction to the story in The Strength of Water
  • Not regretting turning down the role of Jake in Once Were Warriors
This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



Maori, once were warriors, actor, city life, close to home, inside straight, pukemanu, the strength of water, no petrol no diesel, saving grace, the lie of the land, the waimate conspiracy

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Tandi Wright - as seen on TV

Posted on 3 October 2011

Tandi Wright spent some of her childhood in the dressing room at Avalon TV Studios - waiting for her actor parents to finish work on Close to Home. But rather than encouraging her to follow suit, Wright insists they were always “realistic about how nearly impossible it is to make a career out of acting”. She agrees - but seems to have pulled off the “impossible” anyway. Wright has been acting for television since the age of six, playing lead roles in some of New Zealand’s top productions including Shortland Street, Willy Nilly, Being Eve, Serial Killers, Outrageous Fortune, This Is Not My Life and Nothing Trivial. Her film credits include Not Only But Always, Black Sheep, and Out of the Blue. In this ScreenTalk interview, Wright reveals:

  • How she learnt to cope with the disappointment of “hitting the cutting room floor” from a very early age
  • How she felt about her time at Shortland Street and her reasons for leaving the soap
  • Her experiences on the set of Street Legal
  • The joys of working with Mark Hadlow and Sean Duffy on Willy Nilly
  • An insight into the characterisations on TV series Serial Killers
  • What it was like to join the cast of Outrageous Fortune in series six
  • Her feelings on playing Julie Ann Bryson and the grueling subject matter in the feature film Out of the Blue, based on the Aramoana shootings
  • Her impressions of the production and her character in TV series This Is Not My Life
  • The benefits of an ensemble cast in Nothing Trivial

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



actor, acting, outrageous fortune, shortland street, close to home, street legal, willy nilly, being eve, serial killers, this is not my life, nothing trivial, not only but always, out of the blue, mark hadlow, sean duffy, new zealand, black sheep

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Phillip Gordon - from bad boy to the street

Posted on 30 August 2011

Actor Phillip Gordon began his television acting career playing bad boy Hugh Clifford on the long-running soap Close to Home. He then played small roles in many New Zealand films, before winning the lead role in the TV series Inside Straight. He played a conman in the hit film Came a Hot Friday, then returned to television in the kidult show Terry and the Gunrunners. More recently he has appeared on television in Shortland Street and Street Legal, and on film in The Returning. In this ScreenTalk interview, Gordon talks about:

  • Not really knowing what he was doing on the set of Close to Home
  • How his own life experiences helped create the role of Hugh in the soap
  • Enjoying the enthusiasm of director Ian Mune on the set of Came a Hot Friday
  • Learning from his fellow actors in the film
  • Thinking his performance in Shortland Street was ‘over-blown’
  • Finally feeling good about his acting when he joined Street Legal
  • Getting an apology from the director for the hard job of acting in Bridge to Nowhere

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence



actor, shortland street, close to home, inside straight, came a hot friday, terry and the gunrunners, street legal, the returning, ian mune, bridge to nowhere

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Judy Callingham - writing our classics

Posted on 16 August 2011

Judy Callingham has had a long and varied television career as a reporter, presenter, and writer. She first appeared on our screens as a continuity announcer, but then moved on to reporting on the 1960s regional programme Town and Around. Callingham then developed her skills as a television drama writer on shows such as Close to Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. In this ScreenTalk interview, Callingham talks about:

  • How a friendly rivalry with a co-reporter on Town and Around forced her to confront a fear of heights
  • Loving being a show runner on Close to Home
  • How the show led to complaints that it didn’t represent real New Zealanders
  • Why writing for Gloss made her a better person to live with
  • That the superb cast of the show made the scripts better
  • Basing the lead character of her TV play Casualties of Peace on her father
  • The ‘organic’ process of writing the scripts for The Billy T James Show
  • Doing a writing experiment while creating scene breakdowns for Shortland Street
  • Admitting she became a writer because she was appalling at being an actress

This video is available on YouTube to embed and distribute via a Creative Commons licence.



gloss, writer, shortland street, town and around, new zealand television, close to home, shark in the park, casualties of peace, the billy t james show

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