Play Video
1
The Best of The Billy T James Collection  Part 1
The Best of The Billy T James Collection Part 1
::2011/11/24::
Play Video
2
Billy T. James - Buying a Car
Billy T. James - Buying a Car
::2007/03/05::
Play Video
3
Billy T. James-Beginers to Finding a job
Billy T. James-Beginers to Finding a job
::2009/01/18::
Play Video
4
Billy T James Home Inprovements.wmv
Billy T James Home Inprovements.wmv
::2011/01/29::
Play Video
5
Billy T James - Howard Morrison
Billy T James - Howard Morrison
::2010/01/17::
Play Video
6
Billy T. James - Somewhere over the Rainbow
Billy T. James - Somewhere over the Rainbow
::2008/01/18::
Play Video
7
Billy T James A Daughter
Billy T James A Daughter's Story
::2013/11/28::
Play Video
8
Billy T. James - Duck Hunting
Billy T. James - Duck Hunting
::2007/03/05::
Play Video
9
Billy T James Guide To Surviving in The Bush
Billy T James Guide To Surviving in The Bush
::2012/01/01::
Play Video
10
The Best of The Billy T James Collection  Part 3
The Best of The Billy T James Collection Part 3
::2011/11/24::
Play Video
11
Billy T James - The Maori News
Billy T James - The Maori News
::2010/01/15::
Play Video
12
Billy T. James - Aussie Rivalry
Billy T. James - Aussie Rivalry
::2007/03/12::
Play Video
13
Billy T James - Funniest Country Song Ever!! (ultra-rare 1984 footage)
Billy T James - Funniest Country Song Ever!! (ultra-rare 1984 footage)
::2011/10/02::
Play Video
14
Billy T. James - Airline Customs
Billy T. James - Airline Customs
::2007/03/12::
Play Video
15
Billy T. James - Learning Japanese
Billy T. James - Learning Japanese
::2007/03/22::
Play Video
16
Billy T. James - Morning Talk
Billy T. James - Morning Talk
::2007/03/12::
Play Video
17
Billy T. James - My Cousin, Rangi
Billy T. James - My Cousin, Rangi
::2007/03/12::
Play Video
18
Billy T. James - Taxi Driver - The American
Billy T. James - Taxi Driver - The American
::2007/04/16::
Play Video
19
Billy T. James - Medley
Billy T. James - Medley
::2008/01/18::
Play Video
20
Billy T James - Standup
Billy T James - Standup
::2010/01/16::
Play Video
21
Maori Christmas - Billy T James
Maori Christmas - Billy T James
::2010/12/22::
Play Video
22
Billy T. James - Sailing Away
Billy T. James - Sailing Away
::2008/01/18::
Play Video
23
Billy T. James Eating Out
Billy T. James Eating Out
::2009/02/14::
Play Video
24
Billy T. James - CHiPs
Billy T. James - CHiPs
::2011/08/24::
Play Video
25
Billy T. James - Home Improvements
Billy T. James - Home Improvements
::2007/03/05::
Play Video
26
Billy T James On How To Buy A Car
Billy T James On How To Buy A Car
::2010/01/08::
Play Video
27
The Death of Billy T James 1991 3 News Coverage
The Death of Billy T James 1991 3 News Coverage
::2011/12/30::
Play Video
28
Billy T. James - Fishing License featuring Barry Crump
Billy T. James - Fishing License featuring Barry Crump
::2007/03/12::
Play Video
29
Billy T James - Crying
Billy T James - Crying
::2010/01/18::
Play Video
30
Billy T James - Mexican Story
Billy T James - Mexican Story
::2009/01/20::
Play Video
31
Billy T. James - Te News 7
Billy T. James - Te News 7
::2007/05/14::
Play Video
32
Billy T.James Learns Japanese
Billy T.James Learns Japanese
::2008/07/25::
Play Video
33
Billy T James - Captain Cook
Billy T James - Captain Cook's Arrival
::2010/01/12::
Play Video
34
The Best of The Billy T James Collection  Part 2
The Best of The Billy T James Collection Part 2
::2011/11/24::
Play Video
35
Billy T. James - Te News 1
Billy T. James - Te News 1
::2007/05/14::
Play Video
36
Billy T. James - Buying a House
Billy T. James - Buying a House
::2007/03/05::
Play Video
37
Billy T. James - Taxi Driver - The Little Girl
Billy T. James - Taxi Driver - The Little Girl
::2007/04/16::
Play Video
38
Billy T James - Village People.
Billy T James - Village People.
::2010/01/12::
Play Video
39
Billy T. James - Aussie Rivalry 2
Billy T. James - Aussie Rivalry 2
::2007/04/16::
Play Video
40
Sir Howard Morrison with Billy T James
Sir Howard Morrison with Billy T James
::2009/09/25::
Play Video
41
Koha - Billy T James Interview
Koha - Billy T James Interview
::2011/11/11::
Play Video
42
Billy T. James - Marae Witness News
Billy T. James - Marae Witness News
::2007/03/12::
Play Video
43
MAORI CHRISTMAS - BILLY T JAMES
MAORI CHRISTMAS - BILLY T JAMES
::2009/11/21::
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44
Billy T James & The Maori Volcanics - Prince Tui Teka
Billy T James & The Maori Volcanics - Prince Tui Teka
::2010/01/07::
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45
Billy T. James - Where Did I Get my Bag?
Billy T. James - Where Did I Get my Bag?
::2011/08/24::
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46
Billy T. James - Turangi Vice
Billy T. James - Turangi Vice
::2011/08/24::
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47
Billy T.James and Sir Howard Morrison
Billy T.James and Sir Howard Morrison
::2008/07/25::
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48
Billy T James  - Weather Forecast
Billy T James - Weather Forecast
::2010/01/11::
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49
Billy T James TVNZ biopic Trailer.mp4
Billy T James TVNZ biopic Trailer.mp4
::2011/07/24::
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Billy T James - The Entertainer - End Of The Show
Billy T James - The Entertainer - End Of The Show
::2010/01/21::
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For other people of the same name, see Billy James (disambiguation).
Billy T James
MBE
Billy T. James.jpg
Born William James Te Wehi Taitoko
(1948-01-17)17 January 1948
Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Died 7 August 1991(1991-08-07) (aged 43)
Cause of death
Heart failure
Resting place
Mount Taupiri
Nationality New Zealand
Ethnicity Māori
Occupation
  • Comedian
  • Actor
  • Writer
  • Musician

William James Te Wehi Taitoko MBE (17 January 1948 – 7 August 1991) better known by his stage name Billy T. James, was a New Zealand entertainer, comedian, musician and actor. He became a key figure in the development of New Zealand comedy,[1] a household name during his lifetime, and remains an icon to the present day.[1]

Career[edit]

Taitoko joined the Maori Volcanics Showband in the 1970s[2] and performed around the world. Going solo in Australia and then New Zealand saw him in great demand for his skits and impressions and his cabaret singing. He adopted the stage name Billy T. James because "it was something the Australians could pronounce".

In 1980 he appeared in the variety show Radio Times, the success of which led to his own comedy sketch show in 1981, The Billy T James Show (see section). The same year he was named New Zealand Entertainer of the Year.

In 1985 his cabaret act was recorded live and released on LP as "Billy T Live! at Pips Cabaret, Whangarei". Featuring standup comedy selections and live versions of songs such as Running Bear and When A Child Is Born, this title was out-of-print for more than a decade before being re-released in CD format in 2008.

He made a notable appearance in the 1985 feature film Came a Hot Friday and provided voice-talent for the popular animated film Footrot Flats: The Dog's Tail. Also in 1985 Billy was named New Zealand Entertainer of the Decade.

In 1986 James was appointed as a member of The Order of the British Empire for services to entertainment.[3]

In 1986 Billy and Chris Slane published "Real Hard Case" which contained comic-strip interpretations of Billy's comedy. "Real Hard Case 2" followed in 1987.

During this period his name and likeness was used for the company "Billy T's Hangi Takeaways," with locations in Auckland. The business did not last and closed after several years.

In 1990 Billy received the prestigious Benny Award from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Inc for a lifetime of excellence in the performing arts.[4]

The Billy T James Show[edit]

Billy T James self-titled television show for TVNZ featured sketch comedy and live performances of standup comedy and songs. The show lasted seven series and became a New Zealand institution. Joining Billy in the first series were regulars Doug Aston and Laurie Dee. Sadly almost all of the first (1981) and second series (1982) were wiped by TVNZ, with no known copies existing, only one episode from each of the first two series still exist in the TVNZ archive. The second series saw Billy introduce his first re-occuring character Pierre the Painter, who would paint pictures while telling a story. The third series, the first to survive in full saw the introduction of a parody of the Maori news show Te Karere entitled Te News in Episode 3, however this would not appear again until two years later during Series 5. The black singlet and yellow towel Billy wore in these sketches were to become iconic. After the 1984 series, Doug Aston and Laurie Dee, along with many of the writers, were dropped. The fifth and sixth series (1985 and 1986 respectively were co-written by Peter Rowley and included parodies of Miami Vice, Playschool, a 'Lands For Bags' television commercial and sketches featuring Rowley as Captain Cook.

Series 1 and 2 most likely ran for 6 half hour episodes each in 1981 and 1982. Series 3 ran for 7 half hour episodes in 1983, and Series 4 ran for 6 half hour episodes in 1984.

Later Billy starred in a second television show also titled The Billy T James Show. It screened on TV3 and was based on a format devised by Billy and Tom Parkinson. Abandoning the popular sketch comedy format, this show was a family sitcom format and effectively starred Billy as himself. Co-starring were Ilona Rodgers and Mark Hadlow, with Mark Wright, Tania Wehi and Willa O'Neill. It ran for one season with only average audience ratings and reviews.[citation needed]

Deteriorating health, transplant and death[edit]

In 1988 James suffered a major heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass operation. The operation was not successful, and in November 1989 he received a heart transplant. He returned to the stage of the Aotea Centre in April 1990 for the variety special Billy T James, Alive and Gigging. Howard Morrison appeared as a special guest.

James died of heart failure on 7 August 1991.

Billy is survived by his adopted-daughter Cherie James, herself an award-nominated actress and presenter of the 1997 documentary, "A Daughter's Story" about her father.[5]

Legacy, recent biographies and documentaries[edit]

The Billy T Award was founded in 1997 in honour of James. It is New Zealand's most prestigious comedy award,[citation needed] recognising comedians with outstanding potential. Winners are presented with a yellow towel, Billy's trademark from his "Te News" sketches.

In 2009, nearly 50% of respondents voted him the country's greatest comedian in a New Zealand Listener survey,[1] eighteen years after his death.

The first biography of James was released in 2009. Entitled The Life and Times of Billy T. James, it was written by Matt Elliott and was based upon interviews with more than fifty friends and colleagues of Billy as well as wife Lynn and sister Ngaire.

In December 2010, funding was given for the production of a biographical film based on Billy T. James' life.[6] In March 2011, it was revealed the film was to be titled Billy and would star Tainui Tukiwaho as Billy and Morgana O'Reilly as wife Lynn.[7] The film premiered on 21 August 2011 on TV One. Liberties were taken for dramatic purposes including arguments with co-writer and television partner Peter Rowley and a minor heart-attack while filming, neither of which occurred. Both Peter Rowley and James' daughter criticised the inaccuracies of the production in the press.[8][9]

A documentary entitled Billy T: Te Movie was released theatrically in August 2011.[10] Directed by Ian Mune, it proved popular with both theatre-goers and reviewers,[11][12][13] becoming the week's top box office performer on the week of release with $263,000 in sales.[9] Te Movie is now available on DVD.

In 2011, Peter Rowley wrote and starred in Billy T & Me, a one-man show which combined Rowley's memories of working alongside Billy with archival video footage. The show toured New Zealand and was made available on DVD.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "NZ On Screen Biography". 
  2. ^ "NZ On Screen Biography". 
  3. ^ New Year Honours 1986 (9 January 1986) 3 New Zealand Gazette 87 at 88.
  4. ^ "Variety Artists Club of NZ Benny Award Information and Recipients". 
  5. ^ "A Daughter's Story". NZ On Screen. 1997. 
  6. ^ "New Platinum Fund TV projects announced". NZ On Air – Press release. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Morton, Frances (20 March 2011). "Two looks at life of our favourite comic Billy T". New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. 
  8. ^ "Onfilm.co.nz Article, 2011". 
  9. ^ a b Hurley, Bevan (28 August 2011). "Billy T. drama "a web of lies" NZ Herald Article, 2011". The New Zealand Herald. 
  10. ^ "Director confident that Billy T's talent will be recognised". Radio New Zealand. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Onfilm Te Movie Review". 
  12. ^ "Stuff Te Movie Review". 
  13. ^ "Flicks Te Movie Review". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Elliott, Matt (October 2009). Billy T: The Life and Times of Billy T James. New Zealand: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-1-86950-705-3. 

External links[edit]

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