Today’s TV: Thursday 12 February 1987
from the NZ Listener
10.45am Teletext in Vision
11.00 The Richard Simmons Show (Rpt)
11.20 Kōhanga Reo
11.30 Peter’s Adventures
11.35 Portland Bill
11.40 Rainbow (Rpt)
Noon Midday News
12.10 The Young and the Restless
1.05 Days of Our Lives
1.55 The Liver Birds (Rpt)
2.30 Knots Landing
3.25 Too Close for Comfort (Series premiere)
3.50 The Odd Couple (Rpt)
4.40 The Video Club
4.45 I Dream of Jeannie (Rpt)
5.15 The Young Doctors
5.45 Te Karere
6.00 M-A-S-H (Rpt)
6.30 Network News
Includes regional programmes: Top Half (Auckland), Today Tonight (Wellington), The Mainland Touch (Christchurch) and The South Tonight (Dunedin)
7.30 Coronation Street
8.00 Lost Empires (Starting tonight, part 1)
9.45 One Hundred Great Sporting Moments
10.00 Dynasty (Series return)
10.55 Beryl’s Lot (Rpt)
11.45am Teletext in Vision
Noon Hart to Hart (Rpt)
12.50 A Family at War (Rpt)
1.55 Jim Crow’s Army
2.25 The Moomins
2.30 Play School
2.55 Sesame Street
Includes Te Whakapiri Māori
3.55 After School, including:
4.00 Alvin and the Chipmunks
4.30 This Is Me
4.55 Butterfly Island (Part 8, final) (Rpt)
5.25 Codename Icarus (Starting tonight, part 1)
6.00 Sons and Daughters
6.30 A Country Practice
7.30 Who’s the Boss?
8.00 The Flying Doctors (Series premiere)
9.00 Miami Vice
10.00 Eye Witness News
11.00 Night Gallery (Rpt)
New season for 1987
@TV4 @OnAir In 1987 TVNZ underwent significant changes to its programming for the new season, in anticipation of competition from a third channel. This competition did not materialise until November 1989 with the launch of TV3 (now Three). Prior to this, since the formation of TVNZ in 1980, both TV One and TV2 (now TVNZ 1 & 2 respectively) had been airing the same mix of programmes, with a perceived 50/50 split in potential viewership.
As of February 1987, TV One and TV2 began to develop their own unique identities and TVNZ appointed two new controllers to oversee both channels. Harold Anderson, formerly an assistant head of sport at the BBC, took on the role of controller of TV One while John Barningham, who had experience at Crawfords in Australia (known for producing shows like The Sullivans, Cop Shop, Skyways, Carson’s Law etc), was appointed as controller of TV2. However, Barningham was replaced mid-year by ex-TVNZ head of drama, John McRae, and TV2 itself was rebranded as Network Two.
TV One was aimed at an older demographic and offered a diversity of high-quality dramas, documentaries and comedies, with a preference for British productions. Conversely, TV2 catered towards a younger demographic and showcased American and Australian content, with a particular focus on light entertainment, mainstream dramas, hit movies and a majority of children’s programmes.
Following the conclusion of the America’s Cup races, TV One became the main source for sporting coverage, although the selection was limited to major events and one-off specials. In some cases, there would be no sport on Saturday afternoons if there were only minor sporting events occurring.
The formatting approaches of TV One and TV2 were set to remain unchanged in the first half of 1987, but the newly appointed controllers expressed their intention to develop unique styles throughout the year. Harold Anderson, the controller of TV One, was particularly enthusiastic about implementing a change as early as possible, with the implementation of the Friz Quadrata font and a classical look for TV One scheduled for the start of TVNZ’s spring season in July.
Daytime programming on TV One
TV One kickstarted its weekday programming at the later time of 11am on the morning of Monday 9 February 1987 as the new TVNZ season began. After initially extending TV One’s weekday transmission to a 9am start in April 1986, TVNZ had conducted an internal evaluation of its operations which led to the cancellation of a majority of its programmes and a reduction in transmission hours as a cost-cutting measure. Therefore, TV One’s weekday transmission commenced at 11am instead of 9am.
In its first week, the first programme for the day on TV One consisted of reruns of The Richard Simmons Show, which was advertised as ‘a daily workout with Richard Simmons’. This was followed by Kōhanga Reo, a newly introduced programme in te reo Māori from TVNZ, then a half hour block of children’s television starting at 11.30am. The selection included Peter’s Adventures, an animated show about a lion trainer; Portland Bill, an animated series about a Scottish lighthouse keeper; and Rainbow, which followed the escapades of George, Zippy and Bungle as told by Geoffrey Hayes.
TVNZ cancelled its midday news and talkback programme, Newsline, and replaced it with a 10-minute midday news bulletin in February 1987. This was later followed by the US soaps The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives, and reruns of British sitcoms such as Doctor in the House, Doctor at Large, Are You Being Served? and The Liver Birds.
Children’s programmes, which had aired on TV One in the afternoons since TVNZ’s arrival in 1980, were shifted to TV2. In their place on TV One, programmes targeted at adult audiences were brought in, such as the popular Australian dramas Prisoner and The Young Doctors, along with British soaps Crossroads and Emmerdale Farm, and the hit US drama Knots Landing. Additionally, reruns of Dynasty and various US sitcoms like Bewitched, Green Acres, I Dream of Jeannie, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mork & Mindy and The Odd Couple were added to the schedule. The Māori news programme, Te Karere, also saw an expansion from 10 to 15 minutes and a move to TV One at the new time of 5.45pm.
The Flying Doctors
In the midst of the 1980s, a new medical drama took to the screens of Australian television. Little did anyone know that this show would not only become a massive hit in its home country, but it would also go on to captivate audiences around the world. The show in question was none other than The Flying Doctors.
Based on the real-life Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Australia, The Flying Doctors follows the lives of the medical staff as they provide vital healthcare services to people living in remote areas of the Outback. The series was produced by Crawfords for the Nine Network and officially launched in 1986 as a weekly primetime show, following the success of its three-part miniseries run in 1985. However, it wasn’t until the evening of Thursday 12 February 1987 that the whole of New Zealand was introduced to the beloved show, which made its debut on TV2 (now TVNZ 2) at 8pm.
From the outset, the show captured the hearts and minds of viewers with its gripping storylines, beautiful Australian setting and diverse characters. The central character of the series is Dr Tom Callaghan, played by Andrew McFarlane, who leads the team of doctors and nurses based in the fictional town of Coopers Crossing. Alongside him, we have Dr Chris Randall (Liz Burch), a young doctor who is also Tom’s love interest, and Dr Geoffrey Standish (Robert Grubb), who struggles to find his place in the rural community. The team is completed by Nurse Kate Wellings (Lenore Smith) and pilot Dave “Gibbo” Gibson (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), both of whom play crucial roles in the smooth functioning of the RFDS.
One of the most significant aspects of The Flying Doctors was its realistic depiction of life in rural Australia. The show highlighted the difficulties faced by those living in such remote areas, from lack of access to medical facilities to the challenges of living in harsh weather conditions. The show also brought attention to the crucial work of the RFDS, which provides medical services to over 90% of Australia’s landmass. The series effectively showcased how this service is a lifeline for those living in the Outback and it generated a sense of admiration and respect for the brave doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to save lives.
Over the course of its six years and 221 episodes, The Flying Doctors tackled a range of hard-hitting and emotional storylines, including medical emergencies, natural disasters and personal struggles of the characters. This multifaceted approach to storytelling kept audiences hooked week after week and cemented the show’s place in the hearts of viewers.
The show’s popularity in New Zealand grew rapidly and it quickly became one of the highest-rated programmes on TV2, which was rebranded as Network Two and Channel 2 respectively. Its success was not limited to just New Zealand; it also gained a global following in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Sweden. The Flying Doctors became an icon of Australian television and its impact was felt not only in the entertainment industry but also in the community and the healthcare sector.
Today, 37 years after its New Zealand debut, The Flying Doctors remains a beloved show and its legacy continues to live on. It paved the way for other successful Australian dramas such as All Saints and McLeod’s Daughters, and it remains a benchmark for high-quality medical dramas. Its success is a testament to the incredible vision of its creators and the talented cast and crew who brought it to life.