NZ On Air spends $5 million on TVNZ dramas

Picture: Mike Bungay (left) defending Bill Sutch (right). Sutch’s wife Shirley Smith is centre.

New Zealand on Air has paid nearly $4 million for a five-part drama series based on the life and career of the criminal lawyer Mike Bungay. Called Dear Murderer, and based on the book by his former wife Rona Bungay, the series looks at the flamboyant QC had a reputation who was legal celebrity in the eighties and early nineties. His profile was raised for his defence of the historian and public servant Bill Sutch who was charged in 1974 for passing official documents to the Russians. Bungay got Sutch acquitted He was later found to have passed on the information, though his daughter insists he was innocent.

TV2's cul-de-sac
TV2’s cul-de-sac

Another book “Bungay on Crime” was co-authored by Bungay and Dr Brian Edwards. In 1992 he took part in a two-part dramatised documentary called “Bungay on Crime” and he died the next year.  Bungay was particularly well known as a raconteur and celebrity figure around Wellington. It is not clear the series will go into the less salubrious aspects of Bungay’s personal life, but that would certainly add drama. Meanwhile, NZ On Air has given $1.1 million dollars for second series of the TV2 family science fiction series Cul De Sac. NZ On Air said the first series of the dystopian drama has found an appreciative prime time audience on TV2. In series 2 Rose and her siblings continue their journey to find sanctuary from the dark forces that have invaded their world.

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