It’s January 1974 and the Labour Government is running the country, headed by charismatic Norman Kirk. New Zealand is all of a fever because the Commonwealth Games are about to be held in Christchurch – and there is even colour TV!
It’s also when Ted West is getting out of jail after a stretch for burglary to be reunited with his wife Rita and son Wolfgang.
That's right, the West family are coming back to our TV screens. But something's different. They've all got younger and some of the characters you know and love haven't even been born yet. This is, in TV lingo, a prequel. A prequel, in this case, to Outrageous Fortune and in a nod to the returning fashion sensibilities of the screaming 70s, the latest instalment of the West's epic of crime and passion, Westside, is set firmly in the decade that, until recently, good taste had forgotten. If you got a kick out of the modern day Wests as most of us did, then you're going to love their younger selves even more.
Each episode of Westside is set in a different year, spanning the period from 1974 through to 1979. Given that our upcoming issue of Glory Days is all about the New Zealand home, we selected a few preview images of the period-perfect set as a taste of what's in store when the series launches this Sunday 31st May on TV3 at 8.30pm.
Look on in joy (or horror!) at what 70s New Zealand home style was all about...
We also got to catch up with one of the stars of the series, Esther Stephens who plays ambitious perfectionist Ngaire, about life on the Westside set and how that influence filtered into her real life home.
Westside is set firmly in the 1970s. Did you do much research about the time period before you started shooting?
I’ve had a love affair with the 1970s since I was a kid, so I was pretty up with the era before I started on Westside. I’ve always been into '70s music, fashion and homewares. I did do some extra reading around the current events of the period, and also studied up on the gender roles of the time, and how different they are to today.
Tell us about your character in Westside?
Ngaire is a mother, housewife, and would very much like to be considered the first lady of the Westside gang. She appreciates the finer things in life, though some may disagree with her taste. She’s an ambitious perfectionist and executes everything she does with dramatic flair.
How was your character developed through the clothing and styling on set? Did it give you a real sense of living in those times?
Absolutely, I cannot sing the praises of our costume, makeup and art department highly enough! They created a gorgeous and authentic 1970s New Zealand world for us to play in. With Ngaire I really felt inside the character the first time I was on set with a (herbal) menthol cigarette between long acrylic fingernails – that helped start to build the ‘Desperate Housewives of West Auckland' character framework.
Were you a child of the 70s?
Nope! '86 kid.
Did working on Westside give you a great appreciation for the design aesthetic of the 1970s?
Absolutely, though as I mentioned I was already a fan.
What item did you want to steal from the set?
Everything! I loved Ngaire’s house. The running joke was that it was basically like being at home for me, as the apartment I share with my partner in Melbourne was so similarly furnished. There was a gorgeous little bar I coverted, those are quite hard to find and I’ve wanted one for ages, I also loved the orange lounge suite, and all the glasses and decanters, and I’ve proved my point - I just wanted it all!
What three '70s home items have stood the test of time in your home?
Personally I love the kitchen tin sets for tea, coffee, flour etc. My apartment is tiny so they are very useful. We also couldn’t live without our record players - we have two! My boyfriend is a DJ and plays primarily old soul, rock 'n' roll and blues so we have a fantastic retro record collection. My other favourite pieces are my bead curtain and cow skin rug.
Complete this sentence, "The 1970s were a time of....."
Great music and weird food!
Photography by Jae Frew and Matt Klitscher. All images are © 2015 South Pacific Pictures Ltd.
Visit TV3 for all the details and to catch up on Outrageous Fortune before you delve into the Westside this weekend!