Shortland Street

Shortland Street
Shortland Street
Shortland Street Logo, introduced May 2007
Genre Soap opera
Created by Bettina Hollings
Patricia Morrison
Directed by Sam Scott
Angela Bloomfield
Caroline Bell-Booth
Britta Johnstone
Anna Marbrook
Geoffrey Cawthorn
Wayne Tourell
Jonathan Alvern
Renato Barlotomei
Katherine McRae
Starring (Ensemble)
Country of origin  New Zealand
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 19
No. of episodes 4859 as of 19 October 2011 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Simon Bennett
John Barnett
Producer(s) Caterina De Nave (1992)
Brian Lennane (1992-1993)
Tony Holden (1994-1995)
Gavin Srawhan (1995-1996)
Simon Bennett (1997-2000)
Harriet Crampton (2001-2005)
Katie Wolfe (2005)
Jason Daniel (2005-2008)
Steven Zanoski (2009-present)
Editor(s) Rowen Mackay
Location(s) 8 Tolich Pl, Lincoln North 0610, New Zealand
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes (including advertisements-
24 minutes excluding)
Original channel TVNZ
Picture format 576i (1992 - 2011)
1080i (2011 - present)
Audio format Stereo
Original run 25 May 1992 (1992-05-25) – present
External links

Shortland Street is a New Zealand prime-time soap opera, first broadcast on Television New Zealand's TV2 on 25 May 1992. It is the country's longest-running drama and soap opera, being broadcast continuously for over 4500 episodes and 19 years, and is one of the most watched television programs in New Zealand. The show centres around the domestic and professional lives of the people who work at Shortland Street Hospital, a modern combined public-private hospital based in the fictional suburb of Ferndale, Auckland.

The show was originally screened as five half-hour episodes each week and initially receiving mixed reviews on its premiere.[1] After its launch it dropped in ratings and would have been cancelled if TVNZ had not ordered a year's worth of episodes in advance. By early 1993, the show's rating picked up and TVNZ renewed the production. Today, it is one of New Zealand's highest-rated shows - frequently making AGB Nielsen Media Research's top 5 programmes of the week.

As at 2011 the series continues to screen as five half-hour episodes each week, with Monday episodes in the winter months now being extended to one-hour duration. An omnibus edition is screened on Sunday mornings.



Shortland Street is mainly set in and around Shortland Street Hospital, a fictitious Auckland City hospital. The hospital had been privately owned until 2001 when it was sold to the government by Dr Chris Warner. Between 1999 and 2001 the clinic housed a Community Clinic; this was removed when Shortland Street became a public hospital. More recently the hospital has housed a Primary Care Clinic which was axed in 2010. The hospital has a café on site which is contracted to The IV bar.

Other locations include The IV, a bar and restaurant located opposite the hospital; Sugar, a café located somewhere in Ferndale; and Ferndale High School, the local state secondary school.

The exterior views of the houses featured on the programme are located around the North Shore, West Auckland and Auckland City - the interiors are filmed on a sound stage in the Waitakere Studios.


Shortland Street's working title was The Shortland Street Project after its planned filming location in a TVNZ-owned studio at 74 Shortland Street in Auckland Central. However, the studio was found to be too small for the required sets, and the production studio was moved to a warehouse in Browns Bay. After running through many name options, the original working title was chosen and subsequently truncated to simply Shortland Street.[2] The name subsequently is a homage to the Shortland Street studios, which were home to New Zealand's first regular television broadcast in 1960, and were home to TVNZ and its predecessors Auckland operations until TVNZ moved to its new purpose-built television centre on Victoria Street West in 1990. The building has subsequently been sold to the University of Auckland and now forms their Gus Fisher Gallery.


The concept and format of the show was developed largely by New Zealand writer Ken Catran working with Fremantle Pictures. His scripts established the characters, setting and tone of the series. His first episode became infamous for having a sex scene between Doctor Chris Warner and an aerobics instructor, Jill (Suzy Aiken). The first episode also included the line, "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr. Ropata" which has since become one of the most widely recognised lines in New Zealand pop culture.

While the show was initially criticised for bad acting and poor storylines, it was praised for its sensitive portrayal of a teenage suicide storyline later on in its first year. Ratings were initially high, but within weeks they had fallen considerably. However, the show was saved from cancellation by the fact that TVNZ had pre-ordered a year's worth of episodes. By May 1993, the show was rating high enough that it was renewed, and later became the highest rating programme in the country for a brief period in August 1993.


In 2001 the show received much media attention in New Zealand when 14 cast members were either let go from their contracts or decided to leave. This was part of the revamp on the show which saw many new characters introduced. Angela and Rangi were both killed off while Minnie, Frank, Kate, Moira, Tamsin, Al, Dean, Blake, Erin, Cassie, Sofia and Paul were all written off. The revamp also saw the return of original character Chris Warner and Rachel McKenna, the clinics transition to a public hospital and the introduction of Toni, Barbara, Adam, Marshall, Judy, Te Hana, Joe, Mihi, Tama and Patricia.

The longest running characters Chris and Rachel as they were in 1993 and 16 years later in 2009

The show reached huge ratings in 2004 when the psychotic killer Dominic Thompson kidnapped series original Chris Warner and attempted to murder him.

2005 saw the departure of the show's longest-serving cast member, Karl Burnett, who played Nick Harrison, after almost 13 years. Burnett was the only cast member who had been with the show since its inception (although the character and the actor did take a sabbatical from the show in 2002).

In November 2005, Shortland Street was the winner of NZ Woman's Day TV Choice Award for Favourite New Zealand show at the 2005 Qantas TV Awards. They won the same award again in the 2006 Qantas TV Awards. On 22 November 2006 it was announced that actress Laurie Foell had decided to leave the series and that her character of Justine Jones would be played by Lucy Wigmore. This marked the first instance of recasting of a regular character.

The show reached huge ratings in 2007 when a serial killer storyline was introduced, with five characters meeting their demise.[3]

Episode 4000 saw the return of series original Dr. Hone Ropata for a six week stint in 2008.


Shortland Street aired its first ever 90 minute episode on 2 August 2010. The episode featured Chris discovering he had a son with series original Alison Raynor in 1996. It also featured the conclusion to the 3 year Kieran Mitchell storyline which saw the shows second highest ever ratings.

In July 2011 Shortland Street achieved a New Zealand first when it made its 2011 feature length episode available to purchase via Facebook, becoming the second ever TV show in the world to utilize this technology.[4]

In August 2011 All Blacks Keven Mealamu, Anthony Boric and Jerome Kaino filmed a scene that aired on the opening night of the 2011 Rugby World Cup on 9 September.[5][6] The show would also have reshoots to incorporate the wins or loses the All Blacks endure during the tournament.[7][8]


Shortland Street stars an ensemble cast. Most of the characters are either employees of Shortland Street Hospital, or relations to employees of the hospital.

Since 1992, many notable faces have appeared on the soap with the only still remaining character from the original cast being that of Chris Warner. Though taking a 4 year break, Chris has been on the show the longest of the current cast and outstayed all of his family who either died or left. Rachel McKenna is another current long standing character, arriving to the soap in 1993 and making regular appearances since. Nick Harrison was also a long running character being on the show till 2005.

Characters on the show attribute and portray numerous different demographics found in New Zealand. These range from the rich and well off (such as Chris Warner) to the struggling and poor (Wendy Cooper). Other areas that are covered are groups such as ethnicities with Asian, Polynesian, Romanian and even Zimbabwean characters appearing on the show. In the first year of the show, it was decided CEO Michael McKenna's personal assistant Jenny, should be a solo mother to help draw in that demographic who statistically would be watching TV at 7pm. The show has also had a long string of family units and teenagers, helping young audiences and families relate to the show.

Several past cast members have made a name for themselves on the international scale with the likes of Temuera Morrison who portrayed Dr. Hone Ropata from 1992–1995 and a guest appearance in 2008, being cast in several Hollywood films and being recognized as Jango Fett in Star Wars. Martin Henderson who portrayed Stuart Neilson from 1992–1995 went on to star in The Ring and starred alongside James Franco in Flyboys and Brad Pitt in Little Fish. Karl Urban who portrayed the recurring role of gay paramedic Jamie Forrest went on to portray Eomer in the Lord of the Rings films which were made in New Zealand, as well as a number of other New Zealand films such as the Price of Milk in 2000 and the Truth about Demons in the same year. He more recently has played Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the 2009 Star Trek remake and is set to star as Judge Dredd in the upcoming superhero blockbuster Dredd. Marton Csokas who played Leonard Rossi-Dodds from 1993 to 1994, then again from late 1994 to 1995, went on to star in films such as The Bourne Supremacy alongside the previously mentioned Karl Urban and Alice in Wonderland. Besides these breakout stars, Shortland Street has also produced a number of successful actors who participate in successful homegrown material.

Main characters

Actor Character Duration
Michael Galvin HOD Surgery Dr. Chris Warner 1992–1996, 2000–
Angela Bloomfield Rachel McKenna 1993–1999, 2001–2003, 2007, 2009–
Amanda Billing Dr. Sarah Potts 2004–
Jarred Blakiston Daniel Potts 2004–2005, 2007
Ido Drent 2009–
Benjamin Mitchell Dr. TK Samuels 2006–
Peter Mochrie CEO Dr. Callum McKay 2006–
Lee Donoghue Hunter McKay 2006–
Beth Allen Dr. Brooke Freeman 2008–
Virginie Le Brun HOD Neurological Dr. Gabrielle Jacobs 2009–2010, 2011–
Robbie Magasiva HOD Emergency Dr. Maxwell Avia 2009–
Sally Martin Nurse Nicole Miller 2009–
Jacqueline Nairn Nurse Wendy Cooper 2010–
Frankie Adams Ula Levi 2010–
Teuila Blakely Nurse Vasa Levi 2010, 2011–
Geordie Holibar Phoenix Raynor 2010–
Tyler Read Evan Cooper 2010–
Pearl McGlashan Jasmine Cooper 2010–
Amelia Reid Bella Cooper 2010–
Matt Chamberlain Murray Cooper 2010–
Shavaughn Ruakere Nurse Roimata Ngatai 2011–
Natalie Medlock Nurse Jill Kingsbury 2011–

Recurring characters

Actor Character Relation Duration
Kieren Hutchison Dr. Jonathon McKenna Rachel's brother, returned for shows 19th anniversary. 1993-1995, 1996, 2011-
Joshua Thompson Harry Warner Son of Chris Warner and the late Toni Warner 2002
Callum Campbell Ross 2002–2006
Henry Williams 2006–2009
Reid Walker 2009–
Pua Magasiva Nurse Vinnie Kruse Maxwell's cousin and fun loving nurse. 2003-2006, 2011-
Gerald Urquhart Dr. Luke Durville Anaethetist and past suspect in the Ferndale Stranglings. 2007, 2008-2009, 2010-
Brooke Williams Lana Jacobs Callum's personal assistant and sister of Gabrielle 2011-
Nathan Anderson Tillie Potts Sarah and TK's daughter. 2011
Nalani Rose Tuhae 2011-
Kate Elliott Zlata Waldheim Luke's fiance. 2011-
Michelle Langstone Dr. Bethany Hall Hotshot doctor from Australia. 2011-


Shortland Street is produced by South Pacific Pictures, with assistance from FremantleMedia and Television New Zealand. In the first few years, the production was also assisted by New Zealand on Air.


Today, most of the filming for Shortland Street occurs at South Pacific Pictures Waitakere City studios, with Ferndale High School scenes being filmed at the nearby Waitakere College.[citation needed] The exterior shots of the Hospital are filmed on location at the Waitakere Studios at an existing section of a building dressed up to appear as the facade of a hospital entrance. Location scenes are filmed in Auckland, but other locations, including Fiji, Mt Ruapehu, Rotorua and Rarotonga have been used.

Originally, Shortland Street was filmed in North Shore City at South Pacific Pictures Browns Bay studios until their relocation to purpose built studios in Waitakere City in 2000. The original Ferndale High School was played by a North Shore college until the studio relocated. When cast members are hired their contracts are either 4 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 months or a year.

High Definition production of Shortland Street started in early 2011, with the first HD episode broadcast on 18 April 2011 on the Freeveiw HD and Sky platforms.

Also behind the scenes

  • Katherine McRae who played murdered nurse Brenda Holloway has become a Shortland Street full-time director. Brenda was not her first role on Shortland Street. She also played the role of Marjorie Neilson's illegitimate daughter Jane in 1992 and 1993.
  • Mary Lose, who would come back in the role of Nurse Ana Fa'asolo in 1995 would appear in 1994 as a woman named Dana who thought Sam Aleni was the father of her child. It turned out to be a former acquaintance of Sam's who had stolen his identity.
  • Renato Barlotomei who played Dr Craig Valentine retained his off-screen status of Director.
  • Donogh Rees played the role of Senior Nurse Judy Brownlee from 2001-2006. She also played the role of a single woman Maggie in 1993 who had a baby with the assistance of her gay friend Neil. She suffered from post natal depression but with the assistance of Guy Warner and Carrie Burton she overcame it.
  • Marise Wipani who played the role of James Scott's sister Rebecca Scott from 2008–2009, also played the role of a patient called Morgana who supposedly haunted the then Shortland Street Medical Clinic on her stay in 1993. Morgana later returned in 1995, having been revealed as the head of a witches' coven that Minnie and Lulu were interested in.
  • Madeleine Lynch, who would go on to play Ingrid Campbell from 2006–2007 and in 2009 originally played Steve Mills' girlfriend Sarah Donnelly in 1992. Sarah was the second ever death in the show's history.
  • In the 1995 storyline where a truck drives through the front entrance of the Clinic, a heavy truck was actually driven into the studio in a controlled manor but at speed. The position of the interior studio set of the Clinics reception area was adjacent to very large roller doors of the studio, allowing a vehicle of such a size to enter.
  • Due to limited studio space in the earlier years, some sets where erected within the walls of other sets. Rachel's apartment was erected within the set of Lionel and Kirsty's home set. Chris Warner's apartment, after certain parts of the set were repositioned or removed, doubled as Grace Kwan's apartment. Meredith Flemming's home, after repainting and a few cosmetic alterations later became the home that was occupied by the likes of Julia Thornton and son James and later David Kearney and Ellen Crozier (the same set construction was used). Similarly, in the earlier days most of the Clinic's wards, corridors and offices were created with limited construction. Most of the set was mobile and could be repositioned making the Clinic appear vastly different and larger than the studio set actually was.


The show has always retained the appeal of being raunchy and controversial with the very first episode of the show featuring a sex scene between resident "Dr. Love" Chris Warner and his aerobics instructor. Another early controversy was that of a lesbian kiss between Meredith Fleming and Annie Flynn with several complaints laid to the Broadcasting Standards Authority but it went no further. It was not until 2008 that the show received its first ever BSA warning, when it featured an oral sex scene in mid 2008 between sexually confused Gerald and a fellow man.[9] A few months later, the show received a second warning for an episode in August 2008 depicting the brutal murder of Craig Valentine, who was beaten unconscious, then set alight in his car.[10] Again, a few months later, the show received yet another warning about a scene in January 2009 where Tania Jeffries hit a gang leader in the head with a hammer.[11]

Scenes aired in April 2010 sparked criticism when Leanne Miller and her daughter Nicole stated that the city of Tauranga was not "gay friendly".[12]

The show caused controversy in August 2010 when the character of Sophie McKay was shown to be being stalked by her university lecturer who she had been dating.[13] This upset the family of murdered girl Sophie Elliott who was killed by her university lecturer, Clayton Weatherston, who she had been dating. The similarities upset the families with producer Steven Zanoski saying: "the storyline was a classic and not inspired by real events."[14]

The shows production department received several complaints following the lesbian love storyline involving Maia Jeffries and Jennifer Mason.[15]

A storyline aired in April 2011 which featured the Cooper Family try to go to the beach, but they get confronted by a group of Maori who demand money. This sparked criticism with some saying it was discrimination against Maori people.[16] Maori adviser Ngamaru Raerino stated that viewers shouldn't have jumped to conclusions and should have let the storyline completely unfold which reveals the group of Maori are protesting against a corrupt camp owner who had been polluting the beach.[17]

In September 2011, Shortland Street was identified as one of the main influences to people who self harm, airing two storylines involving suicide attempts.[18]

International screenings

Shortland Street has been shown in Ireland on RTE One since 1996. It is broadcast in a morning slot usually around 11:45-12noon and repeated late-night at around 2:30am.

In the UK, Living began airing two episodes a day from the 2007 season with Episodes 3736/3737 which originally aired in New Zealand on 21/22 May 2007 beginning on 23 August 2010 at 15.00-16.00 (and repeated at 10.00 the following morning). However four weeks into its run, the morning repeats were dropped by Living, and as of Monday 20 September moving from 15.00-16.00 and 12.00-13.00. As from Monday 27 September 2010, it is to be shown on Living Loves from 18.00-19.00 Monday to Friday with five repeat episodes shown on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It has been confirmed that Living Loves will axe Shortland Street with the final episode shown on 29 October 2010.[19]

Shortland Street was, however, originally screened on various regions of the ITV network from 1993 to 2003.

From 29 March 1993, Central Television were the first ITV region to screen the soap, beginning in an afternoon timeslot, 1520-1550. From 1994 to 2000, it was shown in an early evening timeslot, at either 1710-1740 and, later at 1730-1800.

Other ITV regions also screened Shortland Street at their own pace, usually during daytime although some (HTV and Granada) followed Central's early-evening example for a short time. Scottish Television have never shown Shortland Street. Central eventually moved the serial to a lunchtime slot, 1300-1330 from September 2000 and it remained here for over two years.

From January 2003, the Carlton-owned ITV regions including Central, Westcountry, HTV and Carlton-London networked Shortland Street in an afternoon slot, 1430–1500, Monday to Wednesday, with a Thursday episode added a few months later. A special programme was aired (presented by Michael Galvin and Angela Bloomfield) introducing new viewers to the show whilst viewers in other regions had to endure a massive jump in storylines to join up with Central who were considerably ahead (up to 5 years in some cases). Meanwhile, the Granada-owned regions, such as Yorkshire Television and Meridian dropped the series entirely, opting for local programming instead. However, Shortland Street failed to attract a significant audience in its new afternoon slot and it was axed completely by ITV and was last shown on 28 August 2003, finishing at episode 2367.[1] Central had shown the serial consecutively for over 10 years, leaving many fans in the Midlands very disappointed. Almost 7 years later, it was announced on 5 August 2010, that Shortland Street would return to British television on 23 August 2010 on Living TV.

The show is also viewed on Cook Island Television 8-8.30pm weekdays and is one of the most popular shows in the Cook Islands.

In Australia, the show was briefly screened by SBS TV between 1994-1995.[20][21] Subscription channel UKTV screened the series from 1997-2000. It was airing at 2pm weekdays on digital station 7TWO, but now with the new lineup is shown at 9.30am every weekday (including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Easter) showing episodes that are exactly 1 year and 10 months (22 months) behind those shown in New Zealand. Australian audiences saw the 2008 season finale from 2 November 2010 and the episodes from January 2009 were from 3 November 2010.

In addition, repeats of episodes originally aired in 2007 were broadcast on the free-to-air station ABC1 at 4.30am weekday mornings. These episodes were 3 years and 1 month (37 months) behind New Zealand. These episodes have now ceased as ABC1 had caught up to the end of the 2007 season, where 7TWO, had begun back in late 2009 when the new multichannel launched.

In previous years, South Pacific Pictures publicity has claimed the show was sold to Bophuthatswana, which journalists have used to demonstrate Shortland Street's interracial appeal.[22][23]


  1. ^ "And they said it wouldn't last - Shortland Street -". Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  2. ^ "Shortland Street's secrets". The New Zealand Herald. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "We're rating through the roof! " SHORTLAND STREET FEATURES "". Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Players get in on the action with Shortland Street". NZherald. August 2011. Retrieved August 2011. 
  6. ^ "All Blacks film Shortland Street cameo". Throng. August 2011. Retrieved August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Shortland Street to acknowledge RWC results as they happen". Throng. August 2011. Retrieved August 2011. 
  8. ^ "All Blacks to star in Shortland Street". TVNZ. August 2011. Retrieved August 2011. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Shortland St gay remarks outrage Tauranga locals". 3 News. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Grunwell, Rachel (1 August 2010). "Shortland Street stalker storyline shocks fans, family". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Increased Mother figures". Throng. January 2011. Retrieved September 2011. 
  16. ^ Tahana, Yvonne (28 April 2011). "Shortland St defends Maori beach levy plot". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "TV soap linked to suicide bids". NZherald. September 2011. Retrieved September 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Schembri, Jim (19 October 1994). "Racy, pacy import jostles with home-grown soapies". The Age Green Guide (Melbourne, Australia: Fairfax Media): p. 5. Retrieved 24 Feb 2010. 
  21. ^ Oliver, Robin (6 March 1995). "Soap sent packing". Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia: Fairfax Media): p. 22. Retrieved 24 Feb 2010. 
  22. ^ Grant, Frances "Now We Are" New Zealand Herald 16 May 1998 p. D2
  23. ^ Wilson, Tim "Street Cred" Metro May 1999 pp. 71-77

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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