Shortland Street

Last updated

Shortland Street
Genre Medical drama
Soap opera
Created byBettina Hollings
Caterina De Nave
Jason Daniel
Directed byOliver Driver
Kiel McNaughton
Katherine McRae
Ian Hughes
Richard Barr
Geoff Cawthorn [1]
Opening themeGraham Bollard
Ending themeGraham Bollard
Country of originNew Zealand
Original languagesPrimary: English
Secondary: Māori, [2] Samoan, [3] Mandarin Chinese, [4] Filipino, [5] Persian
No. of seasons30
No. of episodes7,251 (as of 9 July 2021)
Executive producers
  • Don Reynolds
  • Alan Coleman
  • Tim Sanders
  • Caterina De Nave
  • Rachel Lang
  • Tony Holden
  • Simon Bennett
  • John Barnett
  • Caterina De Nave (1992)
  • Brian Lennane (1992–1993)
  • Tony Holden (1994–1995)
  • Gavin Srawhan (1995–1996)
  • Alan Coleman (1995)
  • Judith Trye (1996–1997)
  • Lisa Page (2000–2001)
  • Harriet Crampton (2001–2005)
  • Katie Wolfe (2005)
  • Jason Daniel (2005–2008)
  • Steven Zanoski (2009–2013)
  • Simon Bennett (1997–2000, 2013–2016)
  • Maxine Fleming (2016–20)
  • Oliver Driver (2019–)
Production locations8 Tolich Pl, Lincoln North, Waitakere, Auckland 0610 New Zealand
EditorsAnna Benedikter
Matthew Allison
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time30 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production companies South Pacific Pictures
Grundy Television (1992–2006)
Fremantle Australia (2006–present)
Distributor TVNZ
Original network TVNZ 2
Picture format 576i 4:3 (1992–2007)
576i 16:9 (2007–2011)
1080i (2011–present)
Audio formatStereo
Original release25 May 1992 (1992-05-25) 
External links

Shortland Street is a New Zealand prime-time soap opera centering on the fictitious Shortland Street Hospital, first broadcast on TVNZ 2 on 25 May 1992. It is New Zealand's longest-running drama and soap opera, being broadcast continuously for over 7,000 episodes and about 28 years, and is one of the most watched television programmes in New Zealand.


The show was originally screened as five half-hour episodes each week and initially receiving mixed reviews on its premiere. [6] After its launch, it dropped in ratings and would have been cancelled if TVNZ had not ordered a year's worth of episodes in advance. TVNZ renewed the production in early 1993 when the show's rating had picked up, and it now has "long-term public enthusiasm". [7] Today, it is one of New Zealand's highest-rated shows, frequently making AGB Nielsen Media Research's top 5 programmes of the week.


After the cancellation of Gloss , Television New Zealand (TVNZ) noticed the lack of New Zealand content on their channels, and in 1990, set about creating a local equivalent of the Australian soap Neighbours . [8] Greg McGee at South Pacific Pictures wanted to do a series about the new private clinics emerging under New Zealand's Labour government, and suggested the idea to scriptwriter Dean Parker, who declined due to a dislike of private medicine, so TV2 and South Pacific Pictures purchased a formula from Grundy Television, who get a royalty cheque for every broadcast. [9] $10 million was given for an initial 230 episodes. [10] Caterina De Nave was hired as the show's producer and subsequently travelled to Australia to work with Grundy Television to work out an idea for the five times a week soap. [8] TV2 programmer Bettina Hollings suggested the setting of a hospital after reading an article detailing ideal locations of a drama, which included a hospital, a police station and a school. [8] De Nave worked with several storyliners including Jason Daniel and they worked out an outline of the show.

De Nave noticed Neighbours and Home and Away had a generally straightforward Australian cast and wished for the cast of her show to be culturally diverse to reflect New Zealand. [8] She also wanted the cast to have strong female characters to attract the necessary female audience. [8] Daniel created the character of Kirsty while De Nave created Meredith and Ken Catran created Hone. [8] The character of Stuart was originally planned to be gay but the plans made TVNZ nervous and were scrapped. [10] De Nave also wished to counter-stereotype races and made Polynesian Sam Aleni a paramedic as there was only one paramedic of Polynesian descent throughout New Zealand. [8] De Nave decided to make the setting that of a private hospital as it reflected New Zealand medicine at the time. [8]

The longest running characters Chris and Rachel as they were in 1993 and 16 years later in 2009 Rachel McKenna and Chris Warner.jpg
The longest running characters Chris and Rachel as they were in 1993 and 16 years later in 2009

The working title was The Shortland Street Project after its planned filming location in a TVNZ-owned studio at 74 Shortland Street in Auckland Central. However, the studio was found to be too small for the required sets, and the production studio was moved to a warehouse in Browns Bay. After running through many name options, the original working-title was chosen and subsequently truncated to simply Shortland Street. [11] The name subsequently is a homage to the Shortland Street studios, which were home to New Zealand's first regular television broadcast in 1960, and were home to TVNZ and its predecessors' Auckland operations until TVNZ moved to its new purpose-built television centre on Victoria Street West in 1990.

Shortland Street's first episode aired on 25 May 1992 to mixed reviews. [12] Ratings were originally high after a successful marketing campaign, but fell steadily throughout the year until 1993 when they rose dramatically. [8] The show would have been cancelled in the first year if it was not for the fact TVNZ ordered a year's worth of episodes. [8]

With high public interest in the show and a viewing figure of a constant 600,000, Shortland Street received more sets and the outdated nursing uniforms were replaced. [8] In 2000, an Australian consultant drastically changed the show so that it would suit the 21st century tone of New Zealand. [13] This included transitioning the hospital to a public hospital, bringing in low income families and writing off 14 characters. [13] Michael Galvin and Angela Bloomfield were brought back as their characters Chris Warner and Rachel McKenna and the show received a new producer. [13]

The show reached huge ratings in 2007 when a Serial Killer Storyline was introduced, with five characters meeting their demise. [14] Episode 4000 saw the return of series original Dr. Hone Ropata for a six-week stint in 2008.

Shortland Street aired its first ever 90-minute episode on 2 August 2010. The episode featured Chris discovering he had a son with series original Alison Raynor in 1996, and the conclusion to the three-year Kieran Mitchell storyline which saw the shows second highest ever ratings. Shortland Street has since made the 90-minute episode an annual feature. On 18 April 2011, Shortland Street screened its first episode in High Definition.

In July 2011, Shortland Street achieved a New Zealand first when it made its 2011 feature-length episode available to purchase via Facebook, becoming the second ever TV show in the world to use this technology. [15] In August 2011, All Blacks Keven Mealamu, Anthony Boric and Jerome Kaino filmed a scene that aired on the opening night of the 2011 Rugby World Cup on 9 September. [16] [17] The show added short transition scenes in which two characters in the hospital elevator discussed the wins or losses (the latter never actually happening) the All Blacks endured during the tournament. [18] [19]

On 15 December 2016, Shortland Street released a charity single featuring Lionel Wellington and J.J. Fong to raise money for Starship Children's Health hospital. [20]

On 25 May 2017, Shortland Street celebrated 25 years on New Zealand television. [21]

Production of Shortland Street was suspended on 24 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown from 26 March to 28 April 2020, and TVNZ 2 reduced broadcasting the show to three episodes per week to spread out the existing backlog of episodes. [22] Production resumed on 30 April with some restrictions, such as intimate scenes not being allowed. [23] The show returned to five episodes per week on 29 June 2020.


Shortland Street stars an ensemble cast. Most of the characters either work at Shortland Street Hospital, or are relations to employees of the hospital.

Since 1992, many notable faces have appeared on the soap. [24] Only one character remains from the original cast: Chris Warner Though taking a 4-year break, Chris has featured in the show the longest of the current cast, outstaying all of his family, who either died or left. Rachel McKenna, another long-standing character as of 2014, first appeared in the soap in 1993 and has made regular appearances since. Nick Harrison, another long-running character, disappeared from the show in 2005. Currently Nicole Miller is the longest-running female character, joining the show in 2009.

Characters on the show attribute and portray several different demographics found in New Zealand. These range from the rich and well-off (such as Chris Warner) to the struggling and poor (Wendy Cooper). Other areas covered include different ethnicities, sexualities, genders, and abilities. In the first year of the show, it was decided[ by whom? ] that CEO Michael McKenna's personal assistant, Jenny, should be a solo mother to help draw in that demographic, who statistically would be watching TV at 7 pm. The show has also had a long string of families, such as the Warners, McKennas, Harrisons, Crombies, Hudsons, Jeffries, Valentines, McKays, Coopers, Avia-Levis, Hannahs, and Kings and various teenagers, helping young audiences and families relate to the show.


Shortland Street is produced by South Pacific Pictures, with assistance from Fremantle and Television New Zealand. In the first few years, the production was also assisted by New Zealand On Air.

Today, most of the filming for Shortland Street occurs at South Pacific Pictures Waitakere City studios, with Ferndale High School scenes being filmed at the nearby Waitakere College.[ citation needed ] The exterior shots of the hospital are filmed on location at the Waitakere Studios at an existing section of a building dressed up to appear as the facade of a hospital entrance. Location scenes are filmed in Auckland, but other locations, including Fiji, Mt Ruapehu, Rotorua and Rarotonga have been used.

Originally, Shortland Street was filmed in North Shore City at South Pacific Pictures Browns Bay studios until their relocation to purpose built studios in Waitakere City in 2000. The original Ferndale High School was played by a North Shore college until the studio relocated. When cast members are hired their contracts are either 4 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 months or a year.

While the name Shortland Street is based on an actual street in Auckland CBD, the only place where the scenes are actually filmed in Auckland CBD is the fictitious Q Road, which is the actual Karangahape Road, better known as K' Rd.

High definition production of Shortland Street started in early 2011, with the first HD episode broadcast on 18 April 2011 on the Freeview HD and Sky platforms.

On 24 July 2018 It was announced that the show will air six nights a week starting in September 2018. [25]

The show has had a reputation for being raunchy and controversial with the very first episode of the show featuring a sex scene between resident "Dr. Love" Chris Warner and his aerobics instructor. Another early controversy was that of a lesbian kiss between Meredith Fleming and Annie Flynn with several complaints made to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) but it went no further. It was not until 2008 that the show received its first ever BSA warning, when it featured an oral sex scene in mid-2008 between sexually confused Gerald and a fellow man. [26] A few months later, the show received a second warning for an episode in August 2008 depicting the brutal murder of Craig Valentine, who was beaten unconscious, then set alight in his car. [27] Again, a few months later, the show received yet another warning about a scene in January 2009 where Tania Jeffries hit a gang leader in the head with a hammer. [28]

Scenes aired in April 2010 sparked criticism when Leanne Miller and her daughter Nicole stated that the city of Tauranga was not "gay friendly". [29]

The show caused controversy in August 2010 when the character of Sophie McKay was shown to be being stalked by her university lecturer who she had been dating. [30] This upset the family of murdered girl Sophie Elliott who was killed by her university tutor, Clayton Weatherston, who she had been dating. The similarities upset the families with producer Steven Zanoski saying: "the storyline was a classic and not inspired by real events." [31]

The show's production department received several complaints following the lesbian love storyline involving Maia Jeffries and Jennifer Mason. [32]

A storyline aired in April 2011 which featured the Cooper Family try to go to the beach, but they get confronted by a group of Māori who demand money. This sparked criticism with some saying it was discrimination against Māori people. [33] Maori adviser Ngamaru Raerino stated that viewers shouldn't have jumped to conclusions and should have let the storyline completely unfold which reveals the group are protesting against a corrupt camp owner who had been polluting the beach. [34]

In September 2011, Shortland Street was identified as one of the main influences to people who self-harm, airing two storylines involving suicide attempts. [35]

During 2017, one episode ended with a cliffhanger featuring Chris Warner confronting his son Harry with a 'dick pic' he found on his tablet computer. A video clip of the scene, including the line "Please tell me that is not your penis!", went viral worldwide, and was voted the New Zealand quote of the year in a contest held by Massey University. [36]



In Australia, free-to-air digital channel SevenTwo aired episodes about three years behind however no longer airs episodes as of August 2015. Previous Australian broadcasters include: ABC 2010–2011, UK Network 1997–2000, and SBS briefly between 1994 and 1995. [37] The show aired on Fox One for several years, but it was revealed on 4 November 2020 that Foxtel had abruptly dropped the show, which was attracting only 7,000 viewers per episode overnight (and another 7,000 in consolidated viewing figures). As Shortland Street qualifies as Australian content under the free trade agreement between the two countries, its future on Australian television became unclear for a time. [38] However, it was revealed on 16 December 2020 that the series had been picked up by SBS Viceland. The remainder of Season 28 (2020) will air on the SBS On Demand service on 1 January 2021, before SBS Viceland starts broadcasting new episodes in sync with New Zealand - the first time this has happened on Australian television - beginning with Season 29 on 11 January 2021 [39]


In Ireland, the series airs on RTÉ One on weekday mornings, though broadcast times vary wildly from 10:40-11:55, repeated the same afternoon at 17:30 on RTÉ Two. Episodes are around four years behind New Zealand (about 1'000 episodes). RTÉ has broadcast the show since 1996, making Ireland one of few countries to have aired the series unbroken from the outset since it began. NB: Although RTÉ leave explicit language unedited, some of the more graphic scenes are edited out on rare occasions.


In Fiji, the show has been on air since 1994 screening weekdays on Fiji One usually around 8:30 pm weekdays. It is one of the most popular shows in Fiji. The show is screened on Cook Island Television at 8.00 pm weekdays. It is one of the most popular shows in the Cook Islands.

United Kingdom

In the UK, the series was originally screened on various regions of the ITV network from 1993 to 2003. From 29 March 1993, Central were the first ITV region to screen the soap, beginning in an afternoon timeslot, 15:20–15:50. However, in September 1993, the start time for children's programming block CITV was moved to 15:30, so Shortland Street was moved to lunchtimes at 13:55. Six months later in April 1994 to 2000, it was shown in an early evening timeslot, first at 17:10-17:40 and, later at 17:30–18:00. Eventually the serial was moved back to the lunchtime slot, 13:00–13:30, from 12 June 2000 and it remained there for over two years.

Meridian become the second region to start the series in mid-1993 around 14:30 until late 2002. Anglia followed in April 1994 and, like Central, aired the show at 17:10.They dropped the series around 2000.

From May 1994, Border, Granada started showing the series as a replacement for A Country Practice (although some regions continued to air both), broadcast in the afternoons at their own pace in various daytime slots. In January 1995, Tyne Tees and Yorkshire started the series as a replacement for The Young Doctors . By 1999, Granada, Yorkshire and Tyne Tees had all dropped the series entirely, opting for local programming instead, while Border switched the series to a 17:10 slot. By 2001, it was moved to an earlier afternoon timeslot until it dropped altogether in the summer of 2003.

Grampian also started the series in 1994 but it was dropped by late 1998. Scottish have never broadcast Shortland Street. HTV started the series in August 1994, mostly in an afternoon slot but also in an early evening slot for a short time. The series was dropped in early 2000, but reappeared again that May.

From January 2003, the Carlton-owned ITV franchises including Central Television, Westcountry, HTV and Carlton-London networked Shortland Street in an afternoon slot, 14:30–15:00, Monday to Wednesday, with a Thursday episode added a few months later. A special programme was aired (presented by stalwart Shortland Street cast members Michael Galvin (Chris Warner) and Angela Bloomfield (Rachel McKenna)) introducing new viewers from Westcountry and Carlton-London to the show. However, Shortland Street failed to attract a significant audience in its new afternoon slot and was axed completely by ITV and was last shown on 28 August 2003, finishing at episode 2367. [40] Central had shown the serial consecutively for over 10 years. The last franchise to air the show was Meridian, who by now were only airing it on Fridays at 14:30.

Shortland Street returned to British screens on 23 August 2010, when Living began airing two episodes a day from the 2007 season with episodes 3736/3737 which originally aired in New Zealand on 21/22 May 2007 beginning on 23 August 2010 at 15.00–16.00 (and repeated at 10.00 the following morning). However four weeks into its run, the morning repeats were dropped by Living, and as of Monday 20 September moving from 15.00 to 16.00 and 12.00–13.00. As from Monday 27 September 2010, it was shown on Living Loves from 18.00 to 19.00 Monday to Friday with five repeat episodes shown on Saturday and Sunday mornings. After just over two months on-air, it was cancelled by Sky with the final episode shown on 29 October 2010. [41] The show has not aired in the UK since.

South Africa

In previous years, South Pacific Pictures publicity has claimed the show was sold to South Africa. Journalists have used it to demonstrate Shortland Street's interracial appeal. [42] [43]


A licensed version of the show started production in Ukraine in 2016 called "Central Hospital" (Центральна лікарня) with an initial run of 60 episodes. [44]


Shortland Street was broadcast on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's TV 1.

Related Research Articles

Chris Warner

Christopher Alexander Warner is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who has been portrayed by Michael Galvin since the show's first episode, making him the longest running original character. Galvin quit the show in 1996, but returned to the show four years later when the show underwent a revamp. In total he has been with Shortland Street for 23 of its 27 years.

Guy Warner Fictional character

Guy Warner is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Craig Parker in a guest role in 1992 before returning as core cast from 1993 to 1996. Guy returned for the shows 15th anniversary in May 2007 and again from December 2007 to April 2008.

Maia Jeffries

Maia Anne Jeffries is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. She was portrayed by Anna Jullienne from mid-2004 to early-2011, with the character starring in numerous high-profile storylines alongside her on screen family. The character returned as part of the show's 20th anniversary in May 2012.

Justine Jones

Dr. Justine McKay is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who appeared in numerous stints from 2005 to 2009. She was portrayed by Laurie Foell in 2005 for a guest stint before returning in 2006 as a regular character. In 2007 the role was controversially recast, with Lucy Wigmore taking over. She played the role through to 2008 and again in a guest stint in 2009.

Luke Durville

Dr. Luke Louis Demonte Durville is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was played by Gerald Urquhart from the character's first appearance in September 2007 until January 2013. The character appeared on a sporadic status until 2012 when he became a core cast member.

Joey Henderson Fictional character from Shortland Street

Joseph James "Joey" Henderson is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Johnny Barker from mid 2007 to early 2008.

Rachel McKenna

Rachel McKenna is a fictional character from the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, played by Angela Bloomfield and who made her first appearance in early 1993. Bloomfield left the role in late 1999, before returning in early 2001 and departing in early 2003. She returned in a guest role in mid-2007 and again in a full-time role in late 2009 before departing once again in late 2016.

Hone Ropata Fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street

Dr. Hone Ropata is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Temuera Morrison as part of the original cast. Morrison maintained the role for three years before briefly reprising it in 2008 to commemorate the show's 4000th episode.

Stuart Neilson

Dr. Stuart Neilson is a fictional character in the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Martin Henderson as part of the original cast until early 1995. The character returned after 22 years off screen to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary episode which aired on the 25th of May, 2017.

Nick Harrison (Shortland Street)

Nicholas John Harrison is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Karl Burnett from the show's second episode in 1992 to 2005, making him the original character to stay with the show the longest in one stint. The character along with wife Waverley returned for the show's 25th anniversary that aired on 25 May 2017.

Marj Brasch

Marjorie "Marj" Brasch is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. Being part of the original cast, she was portrayed by Elizabeth McRae from the show's first season in 1992 up until 1996. She returned as a guest character in 1998, 2002, as part of the show's 20th anniversary in May 2012 and again for the show's 25th anniversary in 2017.

Episode 1 (<i>Shortland Street</i>) 1st episode of the first season of Shortland Street

Episode 1 of the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street was first broadcast on 25 May 1992.

Ellen Crozier

Ellen Rosemary Crozier is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Robyn Malcolm for nearly six years in the mid to late 1990s.

Zac Smith (<i>Shortland Street</i>)

ZacharySmith is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who has been portrayed by Mike Edward in multiple guest stints since mid 1995. The character returned in a more central role for the shows 20th anniversary in 2012.

David Kearney (<i>Shortland Street</i>)

Dr. David Kearney is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, who was portrayed by Peter Elliott from early 1996 to late 1999 and for a guest appearance in 2020.

<i>Shortland Street</i> 20th anniversary 4992nd episode of the twenty-first season of Shortland Street

Shortland Street's 20th anniversary is a series of episodes that aired to commemorate the 20th year of the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street from the 21st to the 25th of May 2012. The episodes were built around a 90-minute episode that aired on the 21st and climaxed in a helicopter crash. Billed as Shortland Street's biggest ever episode, the anniversary was highly praised by reviewers and received record ratings. Other storylines included Gerald Tippett's heart surgery and Callum McKay's departure.

Josh Gallagher

Dr. Josh Gallagher is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Chris Tempest between May 2012 and January 2014. The character was mostly known for his change from friendly to villainous when he developed Hero Syndrome.

Tania Jeffries

Tania Jeffries is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. She was portrayed by Faye Smythe from 2005 to 2010, with the character starring in numerous high-profile storylines alongside her on screen family. The character returned in May 2012 as part of the show's 20th anniversary.


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