14 Aug 2017

The 30th anniverary of Gloss

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:32 pm on 14 August 2017
The cast of Gloss

The cast of Gloss Photo: TVNZ

30 years ago the first episode of the New Zealand TV series Gloss went to air. It was the story of a wealthy Auckland family, the Redferns, who had a fashion magazine business and it was our answer to Dynasty.

Temuera Morrison, Kevin Smith, Danielle Cormack, Lisa Chappell and Peter Elliott all got their screen acting break on the series.

Peter Elliott, who played the scheming Rex Redfern, looks back on the days of Gloss.

Gloss was a lot of fun to make and also ground-breaking at the time.

"Basically, we were making entertainment [for adults] for the first time. Up until then, we'd been making largely kids programmes… We had had lots of worthy public broadcasting before that."

It was the very first time the leads of a TV series were female – including Kerry Smith as Magda, Geeling Ng as Jasmine and Miranda Harcourt as Gemma.

Elliott had done a bit of theatre work before and was lining up the part of Alistair (which went to Simon Prast).

He was told he was too old for Alistair but perfect for Rex.

Gloss walked a"fine line between camp and comedy" which struck a chord around the world.

The actors heard about Gloss-viewing clubs in Amsterdam, Elliott says.

In New Zealand, they were treated very well because the public assumed they were as rich as their characters.

"You'd go to an opening of something and you'd get champagne and food and treated like royalty…"

When the show was cancelled in 1989 it was "gutting', Elliott says.

"They came in and said 'We've got an announcement and basically said 'That's it'. We didn't even get to the end of the series."

In the years after, Elliott had some trouble escaping typecasting.

"I was always the sort of dirty, dodgy dealer in a suit."

Every ten years the Gloss cast has a reunion at the house of the series creator, producer Janice FinnThe surviving cast members will do that this Sunday, Elliott says.

The September issue of Metro magazine contains an oral history of Gloss based on interviews collected by Gemma Gracewood and photos from the personal collections of Janice Finn and Simon Prast.

Get the new RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes

Subscribe to Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

Podcast (MP3) Oggcast (Vorbis)