tv guideComedy show screening parodies of current events, TV shows and advertisements.

The cast included David McPhail, Jon Gadsby, Mark Wright, Alison Wall, Rima Te Waita, Willy de Witt, Rawiri Paratene.

Format continued in the latter shows More Issues in 1991 and Issues in 93 and 94. 

Helen and her Lipstick


Rawiri Paratene and Jon Gadsby as Joanna Paul and Belinda Todd.

From TV Guide, August 31, 1990

"HELEN CLARK always wears the same colour lipstick which clashes with her outfits."

Guess who saw that it clashes?

"Belinda Todd raises one eyebrow and wrinkles her nose.

"Paul Holmes always shuffles his scripts and touches his glasses."

Although they may not know it, our politicians and news presenters are being closely scrutinised.

Their voices and mannerisms are being carefully observed by the cast of TV3's weekly political satire show 1990: The Issues (screening Tuesdays at 7.30 until the election).

Each week the cast-experienced satirists David McPhail and Jon Gadsby and former Laughinz regulars Rawiri Paratene, Mark Wright, Alison Wall and Rima Te Wiata-practise sending up our more public personalities.


Make-up artist Lenore Stewart turns Rima Te Wiata into Judy Bailey

The cast agree the politicians are the most difficult to do because their television training has made them more bland. They lament the new style of corporate dressing which has removed many of their personality quirks and the politicians' new habit of constantly smiling.

Instead the cast has to pick up on one little feature. To look like Palmer, Jon Gadsby wears two specially-made clip-on front teeth and gets his eye- brows darkened so they nearly meet in the middle. But still, he admits, Palmer's a hard character to do and McPhail says the same about Bolger.

However, the cast reveal there are still one or two little giveaways which the politicians may not be aware of, while the news presenters, despite their intensive camera-grooming sessions, are proving wonderful spoof material.

The cast practise their impersonations with videotapes.

"I watch the videos over and over again," says Rima Te Wiata, who plays Helen Clark and Judy Bailey among others.

"I watch them with the sound up, copy what they say, wind it back, then turn down the sound and just look at the movements.

"Then I practise around the house, in the shower...

"You just let their personalities soak into you.

"You visualise the person in your head and, if you've done your home- work, it just comes out."

HELEN CLARK (Rima Te Wiata) and Jim Bolger (David McPhail) in satire

With the aid of clever makeup and costumes which are often modelled on what the politician or presenter has actually worn the week before, the voice and mannerisms complete the picture.

Creating the right facial look is the task of Christchurch make-up artist Lenore Stewart, who worked through- out the McPhail And Gadsby series, assisted by Bryony Hurden, who has also had years of experience at TVNZ.

Lenore brings bags of different wigs, hairpieces and spectacles (provided by Christchurch firms) and scrapbook of reference photos to create the many characters required each week. Both she and Bryony have worked with TVNZ's presenters which gives them an edge when making up the actors.

To create Judy Bailey, Rima dons a bobbed black wig and adopts a mildly anxious expression with a "squashed smile".

To play Helen Clark, she lowers her voice and wears brightly coloured costumes...blouses with floppy bows are favoured. But no matter what colour the outfit, the lipstick is always reddish brown.

"The clashing lipstick's something that Rima picked up on herself," says Lenore. "It's a little running joke!"

Richard Long gets the treatment from Mark Wright. Watch the way he always holds a pen in his right hand and tilts his head towards Judy. After the show's first airing, the cast swears that Richard straightened up and ditched the pen.

Mark also impersonates Mike Moore, which requires body padding, a suit pinned at the back to emphasise the tightness, a bald wig and lots of facial make up to create jowls and circles under the eyes.

"I found the voice quite difficult," says Mark.

"He doesn't speak fast like a lot of the politicians. He's far more slow and deliberate from the Muldoon school of speaking."

The secret to becoming Paul Holmes, says David McPhail, lies in the red glasses and the hairpiece which, according to Lenore, closely matches Paul's own hair, combined with Paul's unique personal mannerisms.

"He's a good example of why some people are easier to imitate than others, David says. "He communicates with his body as well as his voice.

"He tends to emphasise things with his hands and he has a very direct way of talking.

"He'll speed up and suddenly stop."


McPhail and Holmes have been good friends for years and David felt obliged to ring him and warn him in advance about the show.

McPhail also gets tips on his Holmes performance from floor manager Carmen Leonard, who until recently worked for TVNZ and has spent 4 1⁄2 years working in the studio with Paul Holmes as well as Judy and Richard.

"David's spot on for Holmes," she says. "He does all the stuff that you don't notice unless you're in the studio-touching his glasses, shuffling his scripts, the looking off camera to monitors all the time.

"And Mark and Rima have got just the right look for Judy and Richard-their asides to each other, the way Judy rolls her eyes at Richard and the way Richard leans back in his chair. They're very funny."

Nor are TV3's newsreaders Joanna and Belinda immune from the cast's satirical jibes.

Joanna is played by Rawiri Paratene, while Jon Gadsby becomes Belinda. Rawiri got some first hand experience beforehand by observing the Nightline presenters in the studio.

"Joanna has a very mobile mouth, lots of big smiles, and she flutters her eyelashes," he says.

Belinda, says Jon Gadsby, "puts her head on one side, raises one eyebrow and wrinkles her nose."

IS it Judy Bailey and Richard Long? No, its Rima Te Wiata and Mark Wright in 1990: The Issues

Both men wear full female makeup and wigs-with Joanna's final touch "a sprinkling of freckles across the nose and cheeks."

Their outfits are modelled on actual outfits the news presenters wear that week. But it's the tights that create the most problems. "I swore after McPhail And Gadsby I'd never wear drag again," says Jon Gadsby.

But with several weeks to go before the October election and more politicians and presenters coming into the satirical firing line each week on 1990: The Issues, it's a sure bet there'll be more tights to endure.

After all, with a different wig, he's a dead ringer for Margaret Shields!


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