Shortland Street S26E217 11th December 2017_Shortland Street 6397_Shortland Stre_2

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Shortland Street is a New Zealand prime-time soap opera centring on the fictitious Shortland Street Hospital, first broadcast on TVNZ 2 on 25 May 1992. It is the country's longest-running drama and soap opera, being broadcast continuously for over 6,000 episodes and 25 years, and is one of the most watched television programmes in New Zealand.

The show was originally screened as five half-hour episodes each week and initially receiving mixed reviews on its premiere.[6] After its launch it dropped in ratings and would have been cancelled if TVNZ had not ordered a year's worth of episodes in advance. TVNZ renewed the production in early 1993 when the show's rating had picked up, and it now has "long-term public enthusiasm".[7] Today, it is one of New Zealand's highest-rated shows, frequently making AGB Nielsen Media Research's top 5 programmes of the week.
After the cancellation of Gloss, Television New Zealand noticed the lack of New Zealand content on their channel and in 1990 set about creating a local equivalent of the Australian soap Neighbours.[8] Greg McGee at South Pacific Pictures wanted to do a series about the new private clinics emerging under New Zealand's Labour government, and suggested the idea to scriptwriter Dean Parker, who declined due to a dislike of private medicine, so TV2 and South Pacific Pictures purchased a formula from Grundy Television, who get a royalty cheque for every broadcast.[9] $10 million was given for an initial 230 episodes.[10] Caterina De Nave was hired as the show's producer and subsequently travelled to Australia to work with Grundy Television to work out an idea for the five times a week soap.[8] TV2 programmer Bettina Hollings suggested the setting of a hospital after reading an article detailing ideal locations of a drama, which included a hospital, a police station and a school.[8] De Nave worked with several storyliners including Jason Daniel and they worked out an outline of the show.

De Nave noticed Neighbours and Home and Away had a generally straightforward Australian cast and wished for the cast of her show to be culturally diverse to reflect New Zealand.[8] She also wanted the cast to have strong female characters to attract the necessary female audience.[8] Daniel created the character of Kirsty while De Nave created Meredith and Ken Catran created Hone.[8] The character of Stuart was originally planned to be gay but the plans made TVNZ nervous and were scrapped.[10] De Nave also wished to counter-stereotype races and made Polynesian Sam Aleni a paramedic as there was only one paramedic of Polynesian descent throughout New Zealand.[8] De Nave decided to make the setting that of a private hospital as it reflected New Zealand medicine at the time.[8]
The working title was The Shortland Street Project after its planned filming location in a TVNZ-owned studio at 74 Shortland Street in Auckland Central. However, the studio was found to be too small for the required sets, and the production studio was moved to a warehouse in Browns Bay. After running through many name options, the original working-title was chosen and subsequently truncated to simply Shortland Street.[11] The name subsequently is a homage to the Shortland Street studios, which were home to New Zealand's first regular television broadcast in 1960, and were home to TVNZ and its predecessors' Auckland operations until TVNZ moved to its new purpose-built television centre on Victoria Street West in 1990.

Shortland Street's first episode aired on 25 May 1992 to mixed reviews.[12] Ratings were originally high after a successful marketing campaign but fell steadily throughout the year until 1993 when they rose dramatically.[8] The show would have been cancelled in the first year if it was not for the fact TVNZ ordered a year's worth of episodes.
With high public interest in the show and a viewing figure of a constant 600,000, Shortland Street received more sets and the nursing uniform which was considered outdated was redone.[8] In 2000 an Australian consultant drastically changed the show so that it would suit the 21st century tone of New Zealand.[13] This included transitioning the hospital to a public hospital, bringing in low income families and writing off 14 characters.[13] Michael Galvin and Angela Bloomfield were brought back as their characters Chris Warner and Rachel McKenna and the show received a new producer.[13]

The show reached huge ratings in 2007 when a Serial Killer Storyline was introduced, with five characters meeting their demise.[14] Episode 4000 saw the return of series original Dr. Hone Ropata for a six-week stint in 2008.

Shortland Street aired its first ever 90 minute episode on 2 August 2010. The episode featured Chris discovering he had a son with series original Alison Raynor in 1996, and the conclusion to the three-year Kieran Mitchell storyline which saw the shows second highest ever ratings. Shortland Street has since made the 90-minute episode an annual feature.