Executive Producer: 1988-1992
Brought up in Cork, Ireland, Des Monaghan’s long and prosperous career began in the UK after he trained as a stage manager at the Bristol Old Vic, before working on the high profile Sunday Night at the London Palladium. After seeking a job in New Zealand, Des was awarded a job in Christchurch, where he produced the local version of the magazine show, Town and Around.
In 1969, he persuaded his bosses to approach something much more topical, and thus bore the current affairs show, Gallery. Of the series, Monaghan told NZ on Screen, “Luckily we were young enough and green enough not to fully understand the extraordinary power we had because we were the only current affairs show on the only televison network in a country that didn’t have a national press. So we could literally change Government policy overnight.”
As the 1970s ticked away, Monaghan produced Frost Over New Zealand and then launched the sport series, This Sporting Life, which was subject to controversy after referring to rugby league as a “second class sport”.
Des went on to become the Controller of Programming, and was therefore in charge of co-ordinating the scheduling of programmes on Television One. He then become the Director of Programmes and Production for Television New Zealand. It was in this role that Des made history by being the only television executive in New Zealand to sue a Prime Minister.
Prime Minister, Sir Robert Muldoon blamed Des for making a decision to air a British documentary, Death of a Princess, which surrounded the execution of a Saudi Arabian princess. Mr Muldoon stated that the documentary was factually incorrect and would affect the relations between New Zealand and Saudi Arabia. Des argued that the Prime Minister was a bully who attacked the media as a distraction. Des successfully sued Muldoon for defamation.
Before joining the Seven Network as the director of production and programme development, Des set up South Pacific Pictures, a production company solely owned by Television New Zealand at the time.
Over his time at Seven, Des was the executive producer for Home and Away and oversaw the development of several big storylines including the death of Tom Fletcher and Meg Bowman, as well as the relationship of Pippa Fletcher and Michael Ross, one that continued offscreen.
After leaving the Seven Network, Des and Bob Campbell, the then managing director of the Seven Network, teamed up to create an independent production company, Screentime. Over the years, Des has overseen the production of one of Australia’s biggest series, Underbelly. After stepping down from the position of executive chairman in May 2014, Des has remained part of the team as a consultant on project development. Bob Campbell assumed the role of executive chairman.
Picture with thanks to Des Monaghan