Ross Jennings

Ross James Jennings (13 November 1944 – 25 March 2016) was a New Zealand actor, becoming one of New Zealand's most experienced television producers and directors, whose credits included The Mad Dog Gang, Close to Home, Moynihan, Inside Straight, feature film I Live with Me Dad, Australian TV series Special Squad and Acropolis Now, NZ's soap Homeward Bound, New Zealand's first reality series, Middlemore, Strip Search, Police Ten 7 and Melody Rules.[1]

He devised, created and produced TVNZ's highly successful 36 hr live to air Millenium Show as well as devising, creating and producing Maori Television's ANZAC Day show - a 17-hour, annual, live to air programme which played a large part in the resurgence of the ANZAC Day revitalisation in NZ, as well as becoming Maori Television's flagship programme.

Born in Hawera in 1944, Jennings was raised by his mother in Taihape and Hawera, his father having died during World War II.[1][2]

As a member of the NZ Players and Children's Art Theatre, Ross Jennings toured NZ as an actor before being granted a QE2 Arts Council Grant to study acting in England where he worked at Salisbury Theatre and took on minor television and film roles, before returning to New Zealand in 1971.

He joined the NZBC in 1973, and the Drama Department within 18 mths, mentored by producer Tony Issac.

He was appointed Head of Drama for TVNZ in the late 70's and left for Australia to work with Grundy Productions and finally to head Crawford Production's Development Department in 1982. During this period he produced his first feature film, I Live with Me Dad.

His return to New Zealand in 1987 saw him create and produce some of New Zealand's most successful television amongst which is NZ's longest running reality series, Police Ten7, and the hugely successful Strip Search,

In his final year, he wrote, co-directed, and produced the live, outdoor performance of The Passion Play staged at the Villa Maria winery in Mangere in 2015.

His final series, which he devised to demystify the running of NZ Parliament, Inside Parliament, was in production when he died.

Ross Jennings, a former head of drama at TVNZ, died on 25 March 2016, aged 71. His death was preceded by that of his mother-in-law, Edna Peters, 96, who died the same day. He left behind his wife, Carmel Jennings, whom he ran his production company, Just The Ticket Productions with, also a television and film producer, and six children.

The family held funerals on consecutive days the following week at St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Pukekohe.[3][4]



Title Year Credited as Notes
Director Producer Executive
The Scarecrow 1982 No No Yes
I Live with Me Dad 1988 No Yes No
Kahu & Maia 1994 No Yes No
Once Were Warriors 1994 No No No Script development


The numbers in writing credits refer to the number of episodes.

Title Year Credited as Network Notes
Director Producer Executive
Richard John Seddon: Premier 1973 No No No NZBC Television documentary film
Assistant to the producer
Close to Home 1975–76 Yes (782) Yes No Television One Producer (782 episodes, 1975-76)
The Mad Dog Gang Meets Rotten Fred and Ratsguts 1978 Yes Yes No Television film
All Things Being Equal 1978 Yes No No
Skyways 1979 Yes (4) No No Network 7
The Mad Dog Gang Spooks Wilkie, Wink Wink and the Wobbler 1980 Yes Yes No Television One Television film
Production assistant
Open File 1981 No No Yes
Kingi's Story 1981 No No No Television film
Associate producer
Jocko 1981 No No Yes
The Monster's Christmas 1981 No No No Television One Television film
Associate producer
Loose Enz 1982 No No Yes
Casualties of Peace 1983 No No Yes Television film
Prisoner 1983–84 Yes (12) No No Network Ten
Special Squad 1984 No Yes No Associate producer
Carson's Law 1984 Yes (2) No No
Inside Straight 1984 Yes (1) No No Television One
Space Knights 1989 No Yes No Channel 2
Betty's Bunch 1990 No No Yes
Homeward Bound 1992 Yes (2) No Yes TV3
Melody Rules 1994–95 No Yes No
City Girls 2004 No No Yes TV2
Air Force 2005 No No Yes TV One Docuseries
Ghost Hunt 2005–06 No No Yes TV2
Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs 2005 No No Yes Documentary film
Redemption Hill 2006 No No Yes
Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs 2006 No No Yes Mockumentary
Wayne Anderson: Glory Days 2009 No No Yes Prime Mockumentary
Life's a Riot 2009 No No Yes TV One Television film


  1. ^ a b "Ross Jennings". NZOnScreen. 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Kiwi TV producer Ross Jennings dies aged 71". New Zealand Herald. 27 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  3. ^ Otto, Michael (9 May 2016). "Renowned television and Passion play producer dies - NZ Catholic Newspaper". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Ross Jennings death notice". New Zealand Herald. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.