Navigation for Standing Room Only

This week on Standing Room Only - thrillers, whodunnits and secrets - including TV "event drama" The Bad Seed - we talk to stars Madeleine Sami and Dean O'Gorman about Kiwi Noir, and a new novel by thriller writer Tina Clough, set in Pakistan.  Greg McGee's new novel - Necessary Secrets - features family skeletons in closets, while two "extreme conservationists" set out to preserve the fragile huts left in the Antarctic by explorers Scott and Shackleton.

Auckland University is the proud owner of a brand new Virtual Organ, while indigenous video art pioneer Nathan Pohio remembers the early years of Māori  Moving Image.  The replacement Ngaio Marsh Theatre is well under way, while new theatre talent Leki Jackson-Bourke has eyes firmly on the future.   And our guest on the Laugh Track is Billy T James nominee Ray Shipley.


12:38 Conceptual artist Nathan Pohio

Artist and curator Nathan Pohio was quick to see the artistic potential of new video technology when it came out, and 30 years on he's still exploring the media.

A work of his from 1999 is included in the exhibition  Māori Moving Image: An Open Archive at The Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt.   

Nathan Pohio was a Walters Prize nominee in 2016, and represented Aotearoa at Documenta 14 in Athens Greece and Kassel Germany 2017.

Lynn Freeman asked Nathan about the early years of Māori moving image art

12:45 Kiwi-noir?  The event TV drama The Bad Seed

Upcoming New Zealand TV drama The Bad Seed is ground-breaking in more ways than one.  It's a TV event, playing over 5 consecutive nights on TV One.  It's got a decidedly literary background, based on a series of books by acclaimed author Charlotte Grimshaw.

It's also a lot darker than usual for us - you might say "noir".  Secrets, lies, murder, family corruption, politics - all a bit of a leap for two of its stars, Dean O'Gorman who's usually cast as a good guy, and  Madeleine Sami who's best known for playing comedy roles.

Lynn Freeman asked Dean and Madeleine about the challenges of The Bad Seed which starts on Sunday April 14, then plays for four more consecutive nights on TV One.   

1:10 At The Movies

This week Simon Morris reviews New Zealand film Vai, Shazam and Pet Sematary

1:33 Extreme conservation in Antarctica

Working to save a few fragile huts in the most hostile of conditions has been one of the most satisfying projects undertaken by architects Chris Cochran and Pip Cheshire.

The huts come from the Antarctic "heroic era", left behind by explorers like Scott and Shackleton, and now protected by the Antarctic Treaty.

For the past few decades Chris and Pip have been part of a conservation team that's studied the construction of the early explorers' huts.  And they've come up with ingenious ways to keep them standing for many years to come.

Lynn Freeman talks with Pip Cheshire and Chris Cochran about the tricky logistics, ethical and legal issues and hands-on challenges of working in Antarctica.

Chris and Pip will be talking more about extreme conservation at City Gallery Wellington on April 15 as part of the New Zealand Institute of Architects' City Talks series:  

1:50 University of Auckland's new "virtual organ"

James Tibbles

James Tibbles Photo: supplied

No caption

Photo: supplied

Associate Professor James Tibbles, renowned organist and historic keyboards expert, has been instrumental in creating a virtual organ for his students at the University of Auckland School of Music.

It's a first for the country and allows the students to access and produce the sounds of organs played by the master composers throughout Europe, without having to leave home.

He helped to select 16 real life organs from different centuries, with each pipe sampled multiple times.  All up that's many thousands of pipes all up.

Lynn Freeman asked James Tibbles to describe how realistic a virtual organ looks.

2:06 The Laugh Track - New Zealand comedian Ray Shipley

Ray Shipley

Ray Shipley Photo: supplied

The era of comedy being the province of white, middle-aged males is thankfully long gone - even if some peoiple think it's not going fast enough!

But now comedians come from all cultures, ages and genders - and to the surprise of a few traditionalists, the sky hasn't fallen.  All that's happened is more, different jokes.

Today's guest reflects the New Comedy Diversity.  Ray Shipley is a Billy T nominee this year, as well as the current Christchurch Poetry Slam Champion.   Ray's also proudly non-binary - the first guest on the Laugh Track so far where the first question is "What's your pronoun"?  (It's "they" and "them", by the way.)

Ray Shipley picks Bill Bailey, Hannah Gadsby, Paul F Tompkins and Rhys Nicolson.

2:26 Greg McGee's new novel exposes family secrets

Greg McGee

Greg McGee Photo: supplied

No caption

Photo: supplied

A story about a family where an aging father and his three children are keeping big secrets from each other is at the heart of the latest novel by Greg McGee, Necessary Secrets.

It follows several crime novels published under the pseudonym Alix Bosco, as well as several written under his own name including The Antipodeans, and two sports biographies.

In Necessary Secrets, Greg weaves elements of the rapidly changing advertising world into this new book.

He tells Lynn Freeman the story had its seeds in a discarded play and in thinking about the baby boomer generation, the millenials, and especially the ones in between:

Upstart Press has published Greg McGee's novel Necessary Secrets.

2:40 The return of thriller-writer Tina Clough's odd couple

Tina Clough

Tina Clough Photo: supplied

No caption

Photo: supplied

Hawkes Bay thriller writer and expat Swede Tina Clough has brought back the two unlikely detectives she introduced  in The Chinese Proverb, for another dangerous assignment.

Hunter Grant is ex army and Dao is the young woman he rescued from being held captive by drug pushers.

This time they're searching for a missing journalist who'd been working on a story in Pakistan.

One Single Thing by Tina Clough is published by Lightpool Publishing and it's currently number five on the Nielsen best seller list.


2:49 Leki Jackson-Bourke is a young playwright to watch

When he challenged his South Auckland Catholic High School to allow him and his mates to sing hip hop, Leki Jackson-Bourke had no idea that years later he'd go on to become an award winning playwright. He just wanted to sing his kind of music.

Now he's woven those memories into a music-filled play about wannabe gangster Jayden who's offered the lead role in the school production of West Side Story.

Leki, who's of Tongan, Niuean and Samoan descent, has  written The Gangster's Paradise for Auckland Theatre Company's annual youth theatre festival Here & Now.

After it opens, he heads to Wellington as the inaugural Emerging Pasifika Writer's Residency at Victoria University.

Leki Jackson-Bourke tells Lynn Freeman his passion for the performing arts dates back to those high school years:

3:06 Drama at 3 - Fall of the Shah episode 7

In February 1979, the Shah has fled and the Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 15 years in exile.   Can Shahpour Bakhtiar, the new Prime Minister, preserve order in the face of the millions gathering in the streets?

Episode 7 of Fall of the Shah  - 'The Return of the Hidden Imam' - is narrated by Diana Rigg.

3.31 My heels are killing me

Maggie Hewitt is the designer and founder of luxury label, Maggie Marilyn.

Maggie Hewitt is the designer and founder of luxury label, Maggie Marilyn. Photo: Angela Datre

It might be hard to imagine life without the internet and the ease that technology has brought to our lives. But being connected has its pros and cons and New Zealand businesses are not immune to the pressures of being part of a global market especially in the fashion industry where digital technology and social media now plays a major role in success or failure.


“I feel like there’s always been volatility and I think we live in a time where there’s so much change. But I’m a brand that really champions change...I think it’s really exciting in terms of the discussions around sustainability that are more prevalent now than ever." – Designer Maggie Hewitt.


In this episode of My Heels are Killing Me, Sonia Sly talks to Maggie Hewitt – designer of luxury label, Maggie Marilyn, Kellie Coe – founder of Augustine, and Tanya Carlson about a changing world where businesses need to be agile in a volatile marketplace.

3.50 The return of the Ngaio Marsh Theatre

no caption

Photo: supplied

The old Ngaio Marsh theatre at the University of Canterbury was home to generations of young thespians, but it was one of the many casualties of the earthquakes.

The Student Association is encouraging people who performed on stage or helped out behind the  scenes to buy a seat for the replacement Ngaio Marsh Theatre - part of the new UCSA student building. It's due to open in a couple of months.

There's also a shout out for people's stories and memorabilia.

Lynn Freeman talks with the UCSA president Sam Brosnahan about the project, and what the loss of the venue and its history has meant to students over the past 8 years:

And if you'd like to pitch in for the Save A Seat campaign, or with memorabilia from the original Ngaio Marsh Theatre, contact

Music played in this show

Artist: Carly Simon
Song: We have no secrets
Composer: Simon
Album: No secrets
Label: Elektra
Played at: 12.34

Artist: The Police
Song: Secret journey
Composer: Sting
Album: Ghost in the Machine

Label: A&M
Played at:  12.58

Artist: Mel Torme
Song: Secret agent man
Composer: Sloane-Barri
Album: You baby:  Words and music of P F Sloane and Steve Barri
Label: Ace
Played at: 1.07

Artist:  The Band
Song: Long black veil
Composer: Dill-Wilkin
Album: Woodstock: 3 days of peace and music
Label: Atlantic
Played at: 1.43

Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Song: Dirty little secrets
Composer: McvLachlan
Album:  Afterglow
Label: Arista
Played at:  1.58

Artist: Pink Floyd
Song: A saucerful of secrets
Album: A saucerful of secrets
Label: EMI
Played at: 2.04

Artist: Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas
Song: Do you want to know a secret?
Composer: Lennon-McCartney
Album: Little Children
Label: BGO
Played at:  2.37

Artist: Ray Charles
Song:  You don't know me
Composer: Walker-Arnold
Album: The Classic Years
Label: Castle
Played at: 2.58

Artist: One Republic
Song: Secrets
Composer: Tedder
Album: Waking Up
Label:  Interscope
Played at: 3.04

Artist: Doris Day
Song: Secret Love
Composer: Fain-Webster
Album: Calamity Jane
Label: Columbia
Played at: 3.58