Story: Holmes, Paul Scott

The Holmes show, 1989–2004

The Holmes show, hosted by broadcaster Paul Holmes, was the highest-rating New Zealand current affairs shows of its time. Holmes drew on many years of experience in radio to fashion a show which combined hard-hitting interviews with entertainment stories and absurdist humour, with the support of a talented production crew and a team of reporters. Holmes could be tenacious in demanding direct answers from politicians, but he was also skilled at creating a laid-back atmosphere which set interviewees at ease. His producer, Susan Baldacci, recalled that Holmes related easily to others wherever he went, from celebrities to children in Bosnia: ‘he had a way of connecting genuinely with people, genuinely able to talk to just anybody.’

This video draws together some memorable moments from the show’s 15-year run:

1. (00:00–05:23) An excerpt from Holmes’ infamous interview with American yachtsman Dennis Conner, which screened during the show’s first episode, April 1989. Watch the full interview on NZ On Screen.

2. (05:24–07:37) Holmes interviews 16-year-old Bosnian Melisa Tolja, live from wartorn Sarajevo, and invites viewers to donate money to support those affected by the war, July 1993.

3. (07:38–11:47) Holmes visits the New Zealand military base in Bosnia-Herzegovina and interviews some of the soldiers, December 1994.

4. (11:48–13:47) Holmes attempts synchronised swimming, August 1994.

5. (13:48–16:19) Holmes conducts a memorable interview with partially dressed British pop star Robbie Williams, July 2000.

6. (16:20–18:22) Holmes interviews a New York construction worker who witnessed the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, December 2001.

7. (18:23–20:49) Holmes gives an emotional apology to viewers for describing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a ‘cheeky darkie’ on his radio show, September 2003.

8. (20:50–21:23) Holmes reflects on the show’s legacy during  its 15th anniversary episode, April 2004. 

Using this item

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Reference: TZP56194 Dennis Conner interview; TZP126152 Melisa Tolja interview; TZP151959 Bosnia; TZP148070 Synchronised swimming; TZP230806 Robbie Williams interview; TZP251765 Construction workers in New York; TZP295114 Apology; TZP286846 15 year anniversary

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How to cite this page:

Tim Shoebridge. 'Holmes, Paul Scott', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 2022. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 June 2024)