Country Calendar

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Hyundai Country Calendar
Narrated byFrank Torley (until 2015)
Dan Henry (2016–present)
Opening theme"Hillbilly Child" by the Alan Moorhouse Band
Country of originNew Zealand
No. of episodes1,100+
Producer(s)Julian O'Brien
Dan Henry
Camera setupWidescreen
Running timeApproximately 22 minutes (without commercials)[1]
30 minutes (including commercials)
Original networkTVNZ 1 (1966–present)
Picture format720p, PAL (2011–present)
576i, PAL (1974–2010)
576i, black & white (1966–1974)
Original release6 March 1966 (6 March 1966) –
External links

Country Calendar is a New Zealand documentary television series focusing on rural life in New Zealand. It has been aired on TVNZ 1 since March 1966, making it New Zealand's longest-running television series.[2] Since 2013 the show aired for a season of 30 weeks per year, however as of 2016 it is being broadcast for 40 weeks a year. Episodes from the 2013 season to present are available to watch online, through TVNZ OnDemand.

Country Calendar is currently produced by Julian O’Brien, with associate producer Dan Henry. Frank Torley was well known as the narrator of the show, and also produced the show for 23 years. Torley died in March 2016 following a short battle with cancer.[3]

The Country Calendar theme song is from the song "Hillbilly Child" by the Alan Moorhouse Band. Hyundai New Zealand is the show's naming rights sponsor, with previous sponsors including The National Bank, financial services company AMP, and Tux dog biscuits.


Country Calendar was first broadcast on 6 March 1966, primarily as a news show for farmers. It was presented by Fred Barnes, and was approximately 14 minutes in length. The show was primarily shot in a studio, with around 5 minutes shot in the field usually, due to budget constraints.[4] The first field report focussed on a Central Otago apricot orchard.

The show was originally developed to be strictly for farmers, however when Tony Trotter became producer of the show in 1974 he decided to market the show towards a more general audience.[5][6] Trotter also chose the Country Calendar theme music, Hillbilly Child by British musician Alan Moorhouse, which is still used by the show today.

Frank Torley began contributing to the show as a reporter in its first few years, and 10 years later moved to the show full-time, becoming producer in 1980. He was well known as the "gravelly Mr Country Calendar voice", and became the show's full-time narrator from the start of 2014.[7] Torley retired from the show in October 2015, after developing vocal nodules. He died in March 2016 after a short battle with cancer.[8]

In the 1990s Country Calendar moved to Saturday nights, after 23 years being broadcast on Sunday. The 1990s was also the first time a sponsor was added to the show's title.[9]

Country Calendar has received NZ on Air funding since 1991, and is the longest running programme the agency has funded.[10]

In 2005 a special 40 Years of Country Calendar episode was broadcast, comprising some of the show's highlights and detailing the show's history.[6]

In 2011 Hyundai New Zealand became the show's naming rights sponsor, taking over from The National Bank. 2011 also marked the first year the show was broadcast in high definition.[11]

Similar to during the show's 40th anniversary in 2005, in 2016 a special episode titled Country Calendar: 50 Golden Years was broadcast to celebrate Country Calendar being on air for 50 years. The special was hosted by broadcaster Jim Hickey, who had previously hosted the show for 5 years from 1998.[4][12]

A Country Calendar exhibition opened at Waikato museum on 11 June 2016, to celebrate 50 years of the show.[13]


Country Calendar is one of the longest-running television series in the world (by number of years on air), after Coronation Street.[2] There have been at least 1000 episodes broadcast, although the show's producer suggests between 1200 and 1250 is more likely.[14]

Country Calendar is currently produced by Julian O’Brien, who first became involved in the show in 1985 before taking a break and then returning as producer in 2005.[14] The show's associate producer is Dan Henry, who is also the narrator, taking over from former narrator Frank Torley after his retirement in October 2015. O’Brien and Henry also direct the show, along with directors Katherine Edmond, Kerryanne Evans, Michael Huddleston, Celia Jaspers, Richard Langston, Roz Mason, Howard Taylor, and Vicki Wilkinson-Baker.[15] The show's researcher is Vivienne Jeffs, who has held the role since 2007.

From 2013 the show has had 30 episodes per season, although this was increased to 40 episodes in 2016. According to Country Calendar's production blog, the show will have crew on the road for close to 250 days, in order to produce the 40 episodes.[16] Country Calendar usually focuses on one story per episode.

In 2016 Country Calendar received $566,720 of NZ on Air funding, from the Documentary and Factual programme fund. This was increased from $425,036 in 2015, the same amount as in 2014 and 2013, due to the 10 extra episodes as of 2016.[17] NZ On Air say that Country Calendar is "consistently the highest-rating NZ On Air funded programme, with more than half a million people tuning in every week".[18] 583,500 people aged 5 or over watched the 2015 series on average.

Country Calendar is known to sometimes feature spoofs, where the series will occasionally break format and air an unannounced satirical episode.[19] In 1974, a spoof episode aired focusing on the fictional character Fred Dagg (portrayed by satirist John Clarke). A spoof was first aired in 1977 with a farmer playing a fence as a musical instrument, and since then have included sheep dogs controlled by radio and a high fashion range of rural clothing, among others.[20] While the spoofs were generally well-received, the radio-controlled dog episode resulted in numerous calls of it being inhumane. A Country Calendar – Spoofs Special highlighting the spoof episodes of the show was broadcast in 1999.[20] The last part of the 2016 program marking the show's 50th anniversary was a spoof featuring an app designed to let farmers talk to their working dogs.

There are 10 Country Calendar DVDs on sale, including ‘Best of’ DVDs for each season from 2014 to 2017, as well as DVDs comprising episodes on different topics. These include Country Calendar Goes Fishing, Country Calendar on Horseback and Country Calendar Goes Green. The 50th anniversary special is also available on DVD.[21] The NZ On Screen website also features some archived special episodes of the show which can be viewed online.


Season 46 (2011)[edit]

No. Title Original air date NZ viewers
46.XX"Primary Producer"12 March 2011 (2011-03-12)N/A

Focusing on Country Calendar producer Frank Torley.

The episode was repeated on 2 April 2016 following Torley's death.

Season 49 (2014)[edit]

No. Title Original air date NZ viewers
49.01"Rearing to Go"15 February 2014 (2014-02-15)454.5
49.02"Last of the Line"22 February 2014 (2014-02-22)450.8
49.03"Black Sheep"1 March 2014 (2014-03-01)400.0
49.04"Small is Beautiful"8 March 2014 (2014-03-08)489.6
49.05"Island Harvest"15 March 2014 (2014-03-15)518.4
49.06"Becca Takes Over"22 March 2014 (2014-03-22)552.3
49.07"Bonjour Paringa"29 March 2014 (2014-03-29)512.1
49.08"Chaos Springs"5 April 2014 (2014-04-05)520.5
49.09"Life in the Hills"12 April 2014 (2014-04-12)593.7
49.10"Coming Up Roses"19 April 2014 (2014-04-19)499.2
49.11"Banking on Wool"26 April 2014 (2014-04-26)545.5
49.12"Her Father's Daughter"3 May 2014 (2014-05-03)508.7
49.13"The Good Weed"10 May 2014 (2014-05-10)507.4
49.14"A Dream Run"17 May 2014 (2014-05-17)552.1
49.15"River Run"24 May 2014 (2014-05-24)464.1
49.16"A Fruitful Life"31 May 2014 (2014-05-31)569.9
49.17"Top Team"7 June 2014 (2014-06-07)540.6
49.18"Two in the Bush"14 June 2014 (2014-06-14)615.6
49.19"The Nut Farm"21 June 2014 (2014-06-21)600.3
49.20"On the Right Track"28 June 2014 (2014-06-28)562.8
49.21"Milk to the Max"5 July 2014 (2014-07-05)620.6
49.22"Leader of the Pack"12 July 2014 (2014-07-12)624.9
49.23"Flying High"19 July 2014 (2014-07-19)650.2
49.24"Born to Jump"26 July 2014 (2014-07-26)594.0
49.25"High Octane Country"2 August 2014 (2014-08-02)587.7
49.26"It's a Buzz"9 August 2014 (2014-08-09)566.1
49.27"Wild Ride"16 August 2014 (2014-08-16)599.2
49.28"Sniff the Breeze"23 August 2014 (2014-08-23)483.7
49.29"Taste of the South"30 August 2014 (2014-08-30)580.2
49.30"Here to Stay"6 September 2014 (2014-09-06)589.0

Season 50 (2015)[edit]

No. Title Original air date NZ viewers
50.01"Dutch Courage"4 April 2015 (2015-04-04)564.6
50.02"An Open Door"11 April 2015 (2015-04-11)562.9
50.03"Seasons Best"18 April 2015 (2015-04-18)558.3
50.04"Officer and a Gentleman"25 April 2015 (2015-04-25)567.6
50.05"Pig Tales"2 May 2015 (2015-05-02)547.3
50.06"Show Ponies"9 May 2015 (2015-05-09)545.8
50.07"Battling the Dry"16 May 2015 (2015-05-16)603.8
50.08"The Good Earth"23 May 2015 (2015-05-23)638.2
50.09"Where Hills meet Sea"30 May 2015 (2015-05-30)598.9
50.10"Flying Farmer"6 June 2015 (2015-06-06)631.6
50.11"Golden Harvest"13 June 2015 (2015-06-13)503.4
50.12"Saddle Up"20 June 2015 (2015-06-20)594.2
50.13"Hay Days"27 June 2015 (2015-06-27)596.6
50.14"Soft and Silky"4 July 2015 (2015-07-04)599.3
50.15"Farming Smarter"11 July 2015 (2015-07-11)577.8
50.16"Cowshed Candour"18 July 2015 (2015-07-18)647.8
50.17"Hard Nut to Crack"25 July 2015 (2015-07-25)598.5
50.18"A Place to Stand"1 August 2015 (2015-08-01)570.4
50.19"Vintner's Legacy"8 August 2015 (2015-08-08)620.6
50.20"Boy Wonder"15 August 2015 (2015-08-15)491.4
50.21"Heritage Harvest"22 August 2015 (2015-08-22)563.7
50.22"Working the Tide"29 August 2015 (2015-08-29)683.3
50.23"Go Girls"5 September 2015 (2015-09-05)586.2
50.24"Mushroom Magic"12 September 2015 (2015-09-12)619.1
50.25"McDonalds' Farm"19 September 2015 (2015-09-19)586.0
50.26"The Good Life"26 September 2015 (2015-09-26)617.7
50.27"A Sound Investment"3 October 2015 (2015-10-03)521.0
50.28"West Otago Winter"10 October 2015 (2015-10-10)513.7
50.29"Nuts in May"17 October 2015 (2015-10-17)609.1
50.30"Milk and Water"24 October 2015 (2015-10-24)586.6

50th anniversary special[edit]

No. Title Original air date NZ viewers
TBA"50 Golden Years"5 March 2016 (2016-03-05)N/A
Hosted by Jim Hickey.

Season 51 (2016)[edit]

No. Title Original air date NZ viewers
51.01"Generous Legacy"12 March 2016 (2016-03-12)N/A
51.02"A Rare Breed"19 March 2016 (2016-03-19)N/A
51.03"Action Station"26 March 2016 (2016-03-26)N/A
51.04"Just Kidding"9 April 2016 (2016-04-09)N/A
51.05"The Power of Whanau"16 April 2016 (2016-04-16)N/A
51.06"Starting Over"23 April 2016 (2016-04-23)N/A
51.07"Liquid Gold"30 April 2016 (2016-04-30)N/A
51.08"Spring in his Step"7 May 2016 (2016-05-07)N/A
51.09"Sustainable Seas"14 May 2016 (2016-05-14)N/A
51.10"Family Bred"21 May 2016 (2016-05-21)N/A
51.11"Queen of the Crop"28 May 2016 (2016-05-28)N/A
51.12"Family Matters"4 June 2016 (2016-06-04)N/A
51.13"Call of the Land"11 June 2016 (2016-06-11)N/A
51.14"Love The Life"18 June 2016 (2016-06-18)N/A
51.15"To Feed An Island"25 June 2016 (2016-06-25)N/A
51.16"The Whole Hog"2 July 2016 (2016-07-02)N/A
51.17"Outside The Square"9 July 2016 (2016-07-09)N/A
51.18"Out the Back"16 July 2016 (2016-07-16)N/A
51.19"Taking Charge"23 July 2016 (2016-07-23)N/A
51.20"Mussel Bound"30 July 2016 (2016-07-30)N/A
51.21"Autumn Harvest"6 August 2016 (2016-08-06)N/A
51.22"Learning on the Land"13 August 2016 (2016-08-13)N/A
51.23"Film Noir"20 August 2016 (2016-08-20)N/A
Featuring actor Sam Neill and his Two Paddocks vineyard in Central Otago
51.24"Riding High"27 August 2016 (2016-08-27)N/A
51.25"In Their Element"3 September 2016 (2016-09-03)N/A
51.26"Flower Girls"10 September 2016 (2016-09-10)N/A
51.27"Peak Production"17 September 2016 (2016-09-17)N/A
51.28"Cray Brothers"24 September 2016 (2016-09-24)N/A
51.29"Maniototo Merino"1 October 2016 (2016-10-01)N/A
51.30"A Maturing Enterprise"8 October 2016 (2016-10-08)N/A
51.31"On Song"15 October 2016 (2016-10-15)N/A
51.32"The Long Game"22 October 2016 (2016-10-22)N/A
51.33"Wet and Wild"29 October 2016 (2016-10-29)N/A
51.34"Changing Landscapes"5 November 2016 (2016-11-05)N/A
51.35"Lease of Life"12 November 2016 (2016-11-12)N/A
51.36"Eight is Enough"19 November 2016 (2016-11-19)N/A
51.37"Soggy Bottom"26 November 2016 (2016-11-26)N/A
51.38"Fruit of the Soil"3 December 2016 (2016-12-03)N/A
51.39"Generation Next"10 December 2016 (2016-12-10)N/A
51.40"One Big Family"17 December 2016 (2016-12-17)N/A

Season 52 (2017)[edit]

No. Title Original air date NZ viewers
52.01"Shaky Ground"12 February 2017 (2017-02-12)N/A
Featuring Mendip Hills Station in northern Canterbury during the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.
52.02"Raising the Steaks"19 February 2017 (2017-02-19)N/A
52.03"A Natural Success"26 February 2017 (2017-02-26)N/A
52.04"The Takeover Web"5 March 2017 (2017-03-05)N/A
52.05"Buffalo Bounty"12 March 2017 (2017-03-12)N/A
52.06"Head Above Water"19 March 2017 (2017-03-19)N/A
52.07"The Family Farm"26 March 2017 (2017-03-26)N/A
52.08"Hokonui Tails"2 April 2017 (2017-04-02)N/A
52.09"Cherries on Top"9 April 2017 (2017-04-09)N/A
52.10"Tending the Flock"23 April 2017 (2017-04-23)N/A


Country Calendar has won numerous awards during its time on air.[22]

Year Awards Name Category Nominee Result
1975 Feltex Television Awards First Series Award Country Calendar Won
1977 Feltex Television Awards Best Specialty Programme Country Calendar Won
1980 Feltex Television Awards Best Information Programme Country Calendar Won
1981 Feltex Television Awards Best Information Programme Country Calendar Won
1982 Feltex Television Awards Best Information Programme Country Calendar Won
1983 Feltex Television Awards Best Information Programme Country Calendar Won
1993 New Zealand Film and Television Awards Best Factual Series Country Calendar Won
2000 TV Guide Television Awards Best Camera Peter Young (for episode Yankee Harvest) Won
2002 TV Guide Television Awards Best Factual Series Country Calendar Won
2002 TV Guide Television Awards Best Camera, Non-Drama Peter Young Won
2005 New Zealand Screen Awards Best Director (Factual Programming/Entertainment) Jerome Cvitacnovich (for episode Oamuru Stone) Nominated
2005 Qantas Television Awards Best Camera, Factual Peter Young Won
2006 TV Guide Best on the Box Awards* Best Lifestyle Show Country Calendar Won
2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards Achievement in Camerawork, Documentary Peter Young (for episode Cray Coast) Won
2007 Qantas Television Awards Best Camera, Factual Country Calendar (for episode Autumn Muster) Nominated
2007 TV Guide Best on the Box Awards* Best Lifestyle Show Country Calendar Won
2015 TV Guide Best on the Box Awards* Best Lifestyle/Advice Show Country Calendar Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hyundai Country Calendar". TVNZ OnDemand. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b "1966 – key events – The 1960s – NZHistory". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Country Calendar's Frank Torley dies". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Fifty years of capturing Kiwi farming". Stuff. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Tony Trotter – NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b "40 Years of Country Calendar – Television – NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Frank Torley – NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Country Calendar's Frank Torley dies aged 75". New Zealand Herald. 29 March 2016. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Background – 40 Years of Country Calendar – Television – NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Country Calendar". Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Country Calendar shacks up with Hyundai, adding fuel to glue factory rumours for National Bank stallion". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Jim Hickey – NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Hyundai Country Calendar to celebrate 50 years on air at Waikato Museum – Waikato Museum". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  14. ^ a b "On TV, 5–11 March: including Country Calendar and Kolkata with Sue Perkins – New Zealand Listener". New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  15. ^ Country Calendar Team, retrieved 1 April 2016
  16. ^ "Producer's Diary – autumn 2016". TVNZ Ondemand. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  17. ^ "National TV". Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  18. ^ "Country Calendar". Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Weekend Rewind: Country Calendar turns 50". New Zealand Herald. 5 March 2016. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Background – Country Calendar – Spoofs Special – Television – NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Hyundai Country Calendar on DVD". TVNZ Ondemand. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  22. ^ "NZ On Screen". Retrieved 1 April 2016.

External links[edit]