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Pop CultureAugust 3, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Turns out the ‘You Only Wanna Be With 2’ ad is still an absolute banger


Lucy Zee remembers the iconic TV2 ad where a penguin drove a bus and Suzanne Paul had a garage sale.

If you (still) watch a lot of TV, you might have noticed that channels air short branding ads in between TV shows called ‘brand identities’ ‘idents’ for short. These can range from short simple graphics to full on performances of local celebrities singing an entire ballad. Whatever it is, you’ll be sure to see the name/number of the channel, lots of movement and big, bright colours.

One of the most memorable idents in New Zealand television history is TVNZ 2’s ‘You Only Wanna Be With 2’ promotion. It focused on the iconic green and purple TV2 bus, driving past local celebs from Robyn Malcolm to the cast of Mai Time going about their day in Auckland. The ident aired for a few years in the late ’90s, bringing a much more hopeful message than what Y2K fever was ominously predicting.  

Here are a few of my favourite stars who made cameo appearances in the iconic ad:

#1 Suzanne Paul and Anthony Ray Parker

Suzanne Paul dominated TV in the 90s as a multi-talented personality and celebrity. Her signature accent echoed through living rooms across the nation, telling us how many luminous spheres Natural Glow has (it’s in the thousands apparently). Your mum wore the Suzanne clip, your aunty had the massage pillow and your sister used Natural Glow. Suzanne Paul was a household name.

And Anthony Ray Parker was her chauffeur.

With their cute little back n forth, Suzanne and Anthony were made for TV. They had two very popular shows, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, which the NZ On Screen website explains best: “This series was a mixed plate of reality television, cooking show and first stage anthropology.” Suzanne and Anthony Ray also co-hosted Garage Sale, a home makeover show in which they would re-do a someone’s room with items picked up from – you guessed it! – a garage sale!

Where are they now?

Since the late 90s, Suzanne has eased off the infomercial air time and made a few more appearances on television shows such as Celebrity Treasure Island, Good Morning and Best Bits.

In 2005 she was declared bankrupt but it still didn’t stop her winning Dancing With The Stars, helping rebrand Natural Glow into a more youth-focused product called Thin Lizzy and writing a self-help/auto-biography aptly titled But Wait, There’s More. If Suzanne lives past 100 years, you know she’ll still be all over the screens of whatever NZ TV ends up being.

Anthony Ray Parker has been in many TV shows and films as a minor character, such as Spartacus, Power Rangers and The Matrix. He’s still acting today, in both low budget indie horror and thrillers and also acting like we don’t know that his son was a huge part of the gross human garbage group that was Roast Busters.

#2 Fiona Anderson

She appeared for less than 20 frames, but it was a significant enough cameo that I was scratching my brain trying to figure out who she was. I could remember her hair, but not her face. I vaguely remembered her being on TV in the afternoons, but I wondered if I was confusing her with a younger Ice TV-era Petra Bagust. She had the flawless skin, posture and self-assuredness of a presenter. I knew she was a somebody, but I just didn’t know who.

I was so desperate to figure out who it was, that I even asked on Facebook, and now I have it on good authority, that this woman is Fiona Anderson. At the time she was on What Now and also played Lifestyle Sharon in the much-loved children’s soap opera; Serial Stuff.

Where are they now?

I tried to find out more about her, where she’s been, what she’s been up to, if she was even still alive. Never in my life have I ever online stalked someone so hard and come up with NOTHING. I cashed in favours and slid into people’s DMs. Still nothing. The only thing I could find was a LinkedIn profile that had a picture of a blonde woman with a sensible blonde bob. Was it was her or was it some crazy plan that Lifestyle Sharon had concocted, taking over Fiona’s life for good and working comfortably at a bank?  If anyone knows the whereabouts of Fiona Anderson please let me know, if only to satisfy my curiosity.

#3 Spike

Spike from nostalgic children’s show Squirt is the little sci-fi prankster penguin, teleporting in place of Anthony Ray Parker and recklessly endangering the lives of the very important celebrities on board with his terrible driving skills through the tunnel. In a scene reminiscent of Gene Wilder’s horrifying boat ride in Willy Wonka, Spike ominously whoops and chuckles as he takes control of the bus, leading the people to an unknown doom until Anthony Ray Parker appears again, violently throwing him to the back and into the window. Leaving Spike broken, but alive, ready to torture humans another day.

Where are they now?

In the last season of Squirt, Spike got a ‘cool tech dude’ make over, He had big bulbous eyes, wore pants and wastotally down with all the latest communication technologies. Cell phones, Blackberries, PCs, iPods- you name it- he’s probably thrashed it at some stage”.

This was the death of Spike and of Squirt, with no more seasons after 2006. May his evilness rest in peace.

#4 Ma-v-elle

If you haven’t got the song (a cover of Dusty Springfield’s 1963 hit ‘I Only Want to Be with You’) stuck in your head after watching the ident before you read this article, you’re a soulless monster. The beautiful, harmonising and uplifting tones were sung by Lavina Williams, Marina Davis and Maybelle Galuvao, a trio known as Ma-v-elle.

Ma-v-elle were quite popular in NZ in the late ’90s, with three songs making into the top 40. The band split up in late 2000 to focus on solo careers and their families.

Where are they now?

In 2013 Ma-v-elle did a surprise performance at the Pacific Music Awards; the following year they released a new song and performed at the Parachute music festival. All this information I stole from Wikipedia because it’s damn near impossible to find New Zealand late ’90s culture online anywhere else and I avoid talking to a 40 year olds about their teenage years.

#5 Dominion Road flyover

With all the celebrity cameos this ident had, by far the biggest one is the New North Road / Dominion Road flyover underpass. The TV2 bus does a couple of drives around this area and gives the impression that dotted along all Auckland city routes are NZ celebrities waving at us and throwing gerberas. 

Where are they now?

Still there! If you’ve ever gone to get dumplings on Dominion Road or popped over to Kingsland to steal a residential carpark for the rugby, you may have gotten to experience the exciting curvature of the road. There have been proposals to tear it down for housing, but in 2017 – just like the TV2 ad – it’s still holding strong.

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