Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Pop CultureMay 27, 2022

Jamboree: A special Shortland Street edition of NZ’s only gossip column

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Is it you or is it me? Holy shit, it’s Jamboree. The corpse of The Spinoff’s long-buried gossip column, reanimated for a big birthday week.

To celebrate Shortland Street’s 30th birthday, we are dedicating a whole week to the good (and not-so-good) people of Ferndale. Check out more Street Week content here.

’Tis a rare occasion for which Jamboree, the universally beloved megawatt gossip sheet from The Spinoff, gets out of the waterbed. But who could reasonably turn down a 30th birthday party – the last birthday in any life before the inexorable decline into pitiful, seedy, self-loathing nostalgia. Grab a drink, open up a penis on your iPad, and let’s get into it.

Shorthand bleed

The puppetmasters of Ferndale, aka the storyliners, have ruthlessly exacted vengeance across 30 years. Among the stories that circulate like soft serves at Nick’s Licks is that the writers have a dartboard with characters attached, and periodically hurl an arrow, blindfolded, to determine who gets killed. 

While humming Bob Dylan’s ‘Death Is not the End’, the writers exterminated and posthumously vilified a devastatingly handsome ambulance driver, turning him into a gruesome evil bastard after the actor who played him suddenly quit the show, leaving a bunch of dangling plot lines, in protest at his girlfriend being axed (metaphorically). Another character was reputedly killed off and his ashes literally flushed down the toilet after the actor continued to show up having not learned his lines. Another had their character murdered in retalitation for leaving a script in a taxi. 

He was never in Guatemala

After three breezy, sleazy decades, the lines between soap and reality have sometimes blurred. Contemporary culture wars, social change and seismic national events like the change in the give way rule have all wormed their way into the fictional suburban hospital. Michael Galvin has become so confident in a medical setting he routinely walks into surgical theatres waving cutlery, an upsetting habit which our legal advisers have asked us to stress we have fabricated. In the mid-90s, off-screen-and-on-screen couple Martin Henderson and Greer Robson had a group of children in such raptures at Capital Discovery Place that one of them (one of the kids) vomited on the vertical slide. 

The mercurial character of Fergus Kearney was one of 14 done away with in the great Shorty purge of 2001. At some point thereafter, the actor who wore his skin, Paul Ellis, moved to London, where he worked for a stint in the mailroom at MTV. A compatriot at the Kiwi-infested channel set up a Hotmail account with the username and demonically trolled Ellis with all-caps messages like I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Short and sweet

An extra on the show was told she would never extra again after leaking intel about forthcoming episodes to the Street Talk blog (RIP) in 2016. The first storylines had Chris Warner named as Chris Perry. The iconic character of Nick Harrison was very nearly played by Milan Borich, frontman of beat combo Pluto. Donogh Rees, who played Judy Brownlee, was spotted buying steak at Countdown Grey Lynn in 2003. Ferndale is an anagram of Lend Fear

An unnamed Spinoff staffer’s mum once dated the actor who played Dr Lars Hammett. Another unnamed Spinoff staffer was once forced to hold a sign up in the crowd for Sing Like a Superstar against her will that said “I rave for Dave [Wikaira-Paul]”. There is no episode 7310.

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