Media Release

Saturday 6th-12 February

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TV ONE's Sunday Theatre brings key Kiwi moments to life


This October, Sunday Theatre returns to TV ONE with four new local features that tell important Kiwi stories.


From the murder case that captivated a nation, to the story behind a Kiwi legend, aviator Jean Batten, this Sunday Theatre season brings the true, and sometimes terrible, stories from New Zealand’s history to life.


TVNZ Head of Content, Jeff Latch, is excited for Kiwis to see these pivotal moments on our television screens.


“This season of Sunday Theatre focuses on moments etched into New Zealand’s history. These compelling true stories are told with real heart, and we’re grateful to NZ On Air for their continued support in bringing these stories to life.”


The 2016 Sunday Theatre line-up is:


Doubt: The Scott Watson Case


In the early hours of New Year’s Day 1998, Olivia Hope and Ben Smart boarded a yacht with a man, and were never seen again. The case enthralled the nation, and 18 months later Picton man Scott Watson was convicted of their murders. Watson has always maintained his innocence.


Presented by legal expert Dr. Chris Gallavin, Doubt: The Scott Watson Case re-examines the case from a fresh perspective. Going back to the night of New Year’s Eve, 1997, the feature presents interviews with family members and key witnesses – some who have never spoken publicly before – as well as archival footage, and never-before-seen courtroom footage to ask the important question: 18 years after Watson was found guilty, are the evidential threads still strong enough to support a safe and fair conviction?  




The story of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior is one of personal tragedy, political recklessness, intrigue and recrimination, and it happened right here on our shores.


Bombshell takes us back to 1985, when the French government authorised their secret service to bomb the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, to stop its protests against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. The bombing sunk the ship and killed photographer Fernando Pereira, launching the largest police operation in New Zealand history, and creating a diplomatic stand-off between two allies.

A compelling drama that cleverly interweaves archived footage, Bombshell combines the Rainbow Warrior’s inspiring journey with that of the French spies and the dedicated police officers who worked to bring the truth behind the sinking to light.


Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses


Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses lifts the veil of secrecy on what became known as “the Wainuiomata exorcism”, to reveal the extraordinary true story of how both love and fear could drive a New Zealand family to accidentally kill one of their own.


Believing that mother-of-two Janet had fallen under the spell of a mākutu, or Māori curse, members of her whanau subjected the young mother to four days and four nights of water cleansing which ultimately caused her death.


A television first, Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses has premiered at film festivals in New Zealand and around the world, to critical acclaim.




Jean Batten is legendary - her courage, navigational ability and instinct were all extraordinary, and New Zealand couldn’t be prouder of their Hine-o-te-Rangi (Daughter of the Skies). Yet the perfectly cultivated public persona hid a very conflicted personality, hinted at by her sudden disappearances and periods of secretive reclusion.


In this compelling feature, the story of Jean Batten is told. A daughter desperate to live up to a powerful mother, looking to find real love, and trying to escape her own demons – and prepared to go to the ends of the earth to do so.  This is the story of Jean.




The 2016 Sunday Theatre season begins 8.30pm, Sunday 2nd October on TV ONE. All titles will be available on TVNZ On Demand.


Doubt: The Scott Watson Case, Bombshell and Jean are made with funding from the NZ On Air Platinum Fund. Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses is made with funding from the NZ On Air Platinum Fund and The New Zealand Film Commission.


Photo caption: Jean Batten (Kate Elliott).


Dominica Leonard | Senior Publicist | (09) 916 7446