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Hyundai Country Calendar


Celebrating 44 years

Country Calendar is the longest running TV programme in New Zealand

Click here to meet the crew

The programme is thought to be the second longest running series in the world after Coronation Street - and it's truly unique.

Nowhere else in the world does a programme about rural life consistently rate in the top 10 shows for the week - and few TV shows anywhere have screened for more than 40 years without a break.

The first Country Calendar went to air in April 1966 - but it was quite different from what it is today.

The black-and-white programme was based in the studio and the cameras ventured out into the rural heartland only part of the time.  It was aimed primarily at farmers and rural folk, and featured the latest in research along with coverage of stock sale prices and intriguing farmer inventions.

It always had an air of informality, although it was conveyed in different ways from what we'd do today - one early presenter used to puff on his pipe in the studio to create a feeling of relaxation.

The audience has changed, too.  Out-of-towners are still among Country Calendar's most loyal viewers, but today the programme has broadened its appeal.

New Zealanders' identification with the rural heartland is an essential part of how we see ourselves as a nation.  Even though we're a nation of 'townies', most New Zealanders feel a strong connection with the land.

Country Calendar prides itself on being the 'shop window' of farming and a reflection of rural people and their lifestyle.  It's an opportunity for viewers to get a real taste of life beyond the city boundary - a chance for city to meet country.

And city folk certainly seize the opportunity - hundreds of thousands see it as essential viewing every Saturday night.

Executive producer Frank Torley still enjoys the challenge of extracting stories from some of the country's most reserved characters.

He's been associated with the programme almost since it started and believes a whole range of factors make the show such a hit with viewers.

Among them, he lists good research to find interesting stories, along with careful attention to the craft of film-making. 

But most of all, he says, the key to the show's success is the people who appear in the stories.

Frank says that he and his small team do the production work - but it's the story subjects who truly make Country Calendar a great show to watch.