Trailblazing NZ TV producer Caterina De Nave died yesterday at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, finally succumbing to the leukaemia she battled for many years. She was 67 years old.
During a career spanning more than four decades, Ms De Nave worked across most genres as a producer, as well as writer and director, but her great passion was drama and comedy.
Among other TV shows she produced classic kids’ series Children of the Dog Star (1984), Steel Riders (1987) and The Boy from Andromeda (1990) and the controversial 1988 miniseries Erebus: the Aftermath.
She produced feature films Channelling Baby (1999) and Jubilee (2000).
While head of drama and comedy at MediaWorks TV from 2000-2008, Ms De Nave commissioned and supervised the production of such shows as Outrageous Fortune, bro'Town, The Jaqui Brown Diaries, The Strip and The Millen Baird Show.
From 2009 she worked as an executive producer at Australian public broadcaster SBS.
But Ms De Nave is best known the originating producer of Shortland Street. The first New Zealand drama series to run five nights a week, the soap launched under her guidance in 1992 and remains one of New Zealand’s most popular and longest-running series today.
When first offered the producer role for Shortland Street, she “rather pompously said, ‘Oh no, I don't think I do soap’,” she recalled in a 2009 interview, relenting when she “realised all the stories the format would allow you to do: relationship, comedy and social issue.”
Ms De Nave remained with Shortland Street for just six months, because “as a producer I love doing things I don't know how to do. I love setting things up, I love those problems. But once things settle down, I feel it's time to move on.”
The aspect of producing she most enjoyed was working with the creative personnel on her projects, a preference she put down to the fact “I like to be bossy”.