Skip to main content

Country calendar goes to air

6 March 1966

Two men holding a remote control device
Scene from one of Country calendar's famous spoofs (Te Ara)

Country calendar was initially a news programme for farmers that was shot mainly in the studio. The first episode, presented by a pipe-smoking Fred Barnes, included a feature on an apricot orchard in Central Otago. The weekly show broadened its focus in the 1970s to appeal to a wider audience. At first broadcast on Sunday evenings, it moved to Saturday in the 1990s.

From the 1970s, the iconic theme music, ‘Hillbilly child’, introduced half an hour of rural information presented in a way that was accessible to ‘townies’. Occasional satirical episodes disturbed those who didn’t get the joke. In the hands of Fred Dagg (John Clarke), a fence became a musical instrument. An episode on radio-controlled dogs sparked many complaints to the RSPCA; an exposé of high-fashion rural clothing was another highlight. A 2016 episode marking the series’ half-century introduced an app that allowed farmers to talk to their dogs.

Long-serving producers have included Frank Torley and Julian O’Brien. Country calendar has won many awards.

How to cite this page

Country calendar goes to air, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated