Shortland Street celebrates 25 years with an explosive plot and audience

As Ferndale was rocked by an unlikely volcanic eruption for its 25th anniversary edition, thousands of New Zealanders tuned into  Shortland Street as TVNZ reports a bumper audience of 630,000 for the interminable soap. 

The special feature-length episode featured a volcanic eruption that rocked the hospital to its core. It saw the return of former key cast members Marj (Elizabeth McRae), Stuart (Martin Henderson), Nick (Karl Burnett), Waverley (Claire Chitham) and Lionel (John Leigh). 

The documentary Shortland Street 25 Years: A Kiwi Icon was screened straight afterwards, exploring the show through the eyes of the people who love it the most. 

“There’s a lot of love that goes into making Shortland Street and it’s wonderful to see it returned by our viewers,” says Jeff Latch, TVNZ’s director of content.

“Last night’s huge audience for Shortland Street’s 25th anniversary feature episode underlines the special place it has in the hearts of New Zealanders. Shorty is the number one drama series on New Zealand television and our number one show OnDemand, where it tops a million streams a month…Long live Shorty!”

TVNZ reports that its total audience (all people aged 5+) tallied 627,000 viewers with 318,000 of those from TVNZ 2’s target demographic of 18-49-year-olds. TVNZ.co.nz also recorded over 45,000 streams of the episode since last night.

The episode’s accompanying documentary tallied a total audience of 551,000, with 292,000 in the 18-49 audience group. 

“We are overwhelmed by the extremely positive reaction we have received from the public for last night’s anniversary episode,” says Shortland Street producer Maxine Fleming. “The surprise eruption and the many loved faces from the past truly made the episode a celebration of the last 25 years of Shortland Street.”

As part of the birthday celebrations this month, broadcast partner Mercury teamed up with TVNZ to offer fans across the country an opportunity to take a starring role in a virtual reality roadshow.

More than 10,000 people took part as fans were able to meet their favourite characters from Ferndale and try out a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience. Over 1,400 fans walked away with a Mercury prize.

One fan at the Palmerston North roadshow had actor Ben Mitchell, who plays TK Samuels on the show, sign her arm. She has since made the autograph permanent with a tattoo.

“Mercury is all about ‘energy made wonderful’. We love celebrating wonderful moments, and the 25th anniversary of one of New Zealand’s most-loved icons gave us the perfect opportunity to be both part of something great, and to also help celebrate in a wonderful way – by giving over 50,000 Kiwis free power for the day, on the day,” says Julia Jack, Mercury’s chief marketing officer.

TVNZ’s Content Solutions and Blacksand teams led Mercury’s Shortland Street campaign development, in close collaboration with Shortland Street’s producers South Pacific Pictures, and Mercury’s marketing team and their agency FCB Media. Blacksand brought in Satellite to manage the national roadshow and Staples to execute its innovative virtual reality concept.

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