Thingee is a puppet which was used as an unofficial ambassador and icon for New Zealand children's television during the 1990s, appearing in multiple television shows such as The Son of a Gunn Show, and also children's programme, What Now. He appeared on T-shirts, dolls, puzzles and advertising all over New Zealand. He is rumoured to have been voiced by After School camera operator and director Alan Henderson.
Thingee was usually presented as a grey (with brown undertones) humanoid thing with large bulbous eyes, a large toothless snout and a domed head. In a similar manner to the Rainbow characters Zippy and George, he was generally shown from the shoulders up, with one arm.
According to Stephen Campbell, one of the creators, both Thingee's name and species were accidental. The puppet was originally based on a duck, and the name used as a placeholder until they thought of a proper one.
Thingee first appeared on After School in 1987. Viewers first saw what was believed to be perhaps the egg of a dragon, Thingee existed in egg form for several weeks on the show until he hatched. Thingee first teamed up with Jason Gunn in 1988 when Jason took over as host for After School. Jason and Thingee continued working together in 1989 on After 2.
From 1992 on he co-hosted Jason Gunn vehicles Jase TV and The Son of a Gunn Show. They later starred in the straight to video film Jason and Thingee's Big Adventure. Thingee also appeared in celebrity editions of Wheel of Fortune, test cricket commentary and Face the Music in 1992.
From 1996 he was a host on the Sunday morning television show What Now, where it was revealed that the character was an alien and eventually Thingee made contact with his people and made the decision to return home to his own planet. As a result, the character was retired from New Zealand Television.
Appearances after retirement
2001 - Thingee helped co-host the What Now 20th birthday Party.
2007 - Thingee came back to TV on the TVNZ lifestyle show "Good Morning".
2010 - Thingee appeared once again on "Good Morning" in celebration of the 50th anniversary of TVNZ.
2010 - in a dream on the show "wanna ben"
2012 - Wishing TVNZ U a Happy Birthday.
2015 - TV3 appearance on "7Days" (S07E09) alongside Jason Gunn
Appearances in Popular Culture
During a recording of Son of a Gunn in 1994, one of Thingee's eyeballs popped out. While this outtake was not included in the episode that was eventually broadcast, shortly afterwards the clip was screened on a TVNZ bloopers show, where it found fame and became an iconic Kiwi television moment. The eyepop scene was used in the opening credits of the satirical show Eating Media Lunch.
- "Thingee's Eye Pops Out". Video. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Casserly, Paul. "The Son of a Gunn Show - Thingee's Eye Pop " Background". Article. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "Legendary NZ TV Moments". Article. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 25 September 2012.