It’s New Zealand’s longest-running TV show with more than a thousand episodes. So what’s Country Calendar’s secret?
Narrator Dan Henry is just as puzzled.
“Gosh, it’d be interesting to know why Country Calendar is so successful because if we knew exactly why, it could be a recipe and you could bottle it up, replicate it and be very rich," he says.
Dan first joined the Country Calendar crew in 2008 as a director and last year he took over the role of narrator, after the longtime voice of the show, Frank Torley, passed away after a short battle with cancer.
While his opinion might be a little biased, he says it’s “the best programme in New Zealand”.
Dan describes one of his favourite episodes from a few years ago where he met a 93-year-old German-born man who had hand-built his machinery for harvesting and processing walnuts.
“There’s something about the show that goes against all the recipes for making quality primetime TV. If you were to pitch all the networks like, ‘I’ve got this great half-hour programme on a 93-year-old guy with an accent you can barely understand and he grows walnuts. What do you think?’ They’d laugh you out of the building!”
But for some reason, it works. Since 1966, the show has been winning over the hearts of New Zealanders, but don’t count on scoring Dan’s gig anytime soon.
“People tell me all the time that it’s the best show. Colleagues in the TV business always ask, ‘How can I get your job?’ But I’m holding onto it with both hands – I’m not leaving!”
In theory, Country Calendar shouldn’t be as popular as it is, but as Dan proudly says, “That’s part of the magic of the show.”
Hyundai Country Calendar, TVNZ 1, Sundays at 7pm.