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TV

The women behind the scenes of Shortland Street

While we welcome the stars of Shorty into our homes every weeknight, there is an army of people behind the scenes we never get to see. Meet some of the amazing talent who help create New Zealand’s favourite soap

ANA MISKELL
Production Designer
From creating realistic helicopter crashes and romantic weddings to making a house cosy for a resident of Ferndale, it is Ana Miskell and her team in the art department who bring the world of Shortland Street to life with their incredible sets and designs.
"I work with an amazing team and I really love finding creative ways to bring the script to life visually," tells Ana. "Every storyline is a surprise, every week there's a new challenge. Sometimes I'm surprised – pleasantly! – that we manage to pull it all together given the tight time frames we work in."
Ana joined the show 20 years ago and has seen many cast members come and go in her time, but she says the one person whose infectious joy has stayed with her is Pua Magasiva, who sadly passed away in 2019.
"All my favourite memories are from the days I got to work with Pua," she enthuses.
While Ana says it is impossible to pick just one storyline that is her favourite, she admits the most iconic to her is the Ferndale Strangler.
"The Ferndale Strangler had everyone on the edge of their seats. In my role, storylines that mean that sets can evolve or be completely changed are always my favourites!"
RAEGEN HOULDRIDGE
Senior Publicist
While many may think that being a publicist is all about the glitz and glam of red carpets and media events, Raegen Houldridge says it mostly takes a big heart to succeed in her role.
"As a publicist, you have to be a go-between and a master juggler at times, so multi-tasking and managing various demands is the name of the game," tells the 49-year-old. "Gaining people's trust, and helping them to navigate the media and their public profiles, can be pretty daunting for some at times – so it really helps if you have a nurturing streak in your personality!"
Raegen has worked at Shortland Street for a decade and says she isn't surprised that the show has reached this lofty milestone, as the diverse cast and storylines mean there is something everyone can relate to on the show.
"I think the stories are relatable, told with a sense of heart, with the right amount of comedy and diversity. Shorty has never been afraid to push the boundaries.
"I am not ashamed to say that this show has made me laugh out loud and sob like a baby – and that's even after reading the scripts and I actually know what's coming!"
CALLIE ADAMS
Line Producer
Callie Adams has only been part of the Shortland Street team for a year, but already she has been involved in bringing some very special storylines to life. Her favourite being the episodes made for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) last year.
"As a proud Māori, seeing an increase of te reo Māori dialogue used within the show, showcasing our culture through the use of kapa haka, then see it broadcast on mainstream TV is absolutely amazing," the 41-year-old tells.
As a line producer, Callie, who has worked in the television industry for over 20 years, manages the day-to-day operations of filming and works closely with all the departments involved in bringing the show to the screen. Because of this, she knows better than most just how passionate everyone who works on the beloved soap is about their job.
"It's a machine of crazy madness – coordinated fun madness, that is!" she jokes. "Every single team member works extremely hard to ensure every element of the show comes together as scheduled.
"It is a brilliant team of cast and crew, who work above and beyond each day, and of course have fun while doing so."
MICHELE PRIEST
First Assistant Director – HOD Assistant Director's Department
Since the very first episode of Shortland Street went to air in 1992, Michele Priest has been behind the camera helping create TV gold. Starting as a second assistant director, she now heads her own department and as she reflects on those early years, Michele says she can't believe they have been on air for 30 years.
"I'm enormously proud to have been part of Shortland Street and never imagined I would ever stay with the show for this long," she laughs. "I can also say that those of us who started on day one never really expected the show to run for this long! It's wonderful!"
Working on a fast-paced show like Shortland Street comes with its challenges, especially while navigating filming with Covid restrictions, but Michele says no matter how complicated her job can get, nothing beats seeing the finished product on screen.
"It's exciting, demanding, exhilarating and at times exhausting!" she confides. "My favourite thing about working here is watching the stories turn from black letters on a page to a living, breathing entity full of colour, laughter and emotion."
Michele says the reason Kiwis have connected with the show for so many years is that it is uniquely Aotearoa.
"It reflects us and all our diversity," she tells. "When we first started, there were not many shows on telly in which we could hear our accents and see our lives reflected back at us. It makes us more of who we are."
BRONWYN LEWIS
Hair and Make-up Supervisor
In her role, Bronwyn Lewis is responsible for making sure the on-screen stars of Shorty are camera-ready every day. But with the number of grave injuries and mysterious illnesses featured on the soap, the 59-year-old's job isn't just about making actors look pretty.
"I have to research what diseases and different wounds look like, and how to age them over several days or weeks," shares Bronwyn, who has worked for the iconic soap since it started, with a decade-long break from 2004-2014.
Not long after she returned to Shortland Street, the show teamed up with the Fred Hollows Foundation to film a special series of episodes on location in Fiji. It was an exciting change of scenery for the hardworking cast and crew, and for Bronwyn it provided the perfect location for a tropical wedding.
"I got married in Fiji straight after we wrapped filming," she says. "It is my favourite memory from all my time on the show."
Bronwyn says that while the work is often demanding, the reason so many of the cast and crew stick around is their close working environment.
"At times, it can be very stressful with long hours and meeting continuous deadlines, but you get to meet such a wide range of people and it really feels like a family."

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