Episode 20: Carry Me Back (1982)

When your Dad carks it on a trip to Wellington, but your inheritance relies on him dying on the farm in Marlborough, what on earth can you do about it? That’s the problem facing Grant Tilly and Kelly Johnson in John Reid’s Carry Me Back, a raucous corpse-toting farce that gives Hayden and L.J. a bit more than they bargained for.

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Carry Me Back poster

Director: John Reid
Producer: Graeme Cowley
Screenplay: Derek Morton, Keith Aberdein, John Reid
Story: Joy Cowley
Director of photography: Graeme Cowley
Editors: Simon Reece, Michael Horton

Arthur Donovan…
Grant Tilly
Jamie Donovan…Kelly Johnson
Aunty Bird…Dorothy McKegg
TK Donovan…Derek Hardwick
Girl…Joanne Mildenhall


  • The company that produced the DVD of Carry Me Back no longer has any internet presence, and the DVD appears to be officially out-of-print. Copies are still for sale through Aro Video and more information is available from NZ Videos. If you can’t find a copy of the DVD, fear not, the film is available to rent and buy in HD from NZ Film On Demand.
  • Carry Me Back is packed with recognisable faces in small roles, many of whom we didn’t get a chance to mention. Bruno Lawrence turns up briefly as a policeman, Ian Watkin as a strip show emcee, and Kate Harcourt makes an appearance as a motel owner.
  • Although information about Joanne Mildenhall is scarce she was obviously active in the Wellington theatre scene in the early ’80s, as evidenced by a photo reproduced on the website of Victoria University of Wellington, from an issue of the official Student’s Association magazine Salient. It’s attached to a review of a production of the Stephen Poliakoff play ‘Hitting Town’ at Downstage, in which Mildenhall played one of the leads.
  • Hayden muffs a couple of facts in this episode when speaking about Dorothy McKegg. She won her bursary to study at the Old Vic at the age of 19, and her appearances on The Black and White Minstrel Show were during 1955-1956. For more info on McKegg, you can read her biography at NZ On Screen.
  • The illustration on the original poster (above) is absolutely terrific. It’s a superb example of a type of evocative poster design than has fallen out of fashion in the past couple of decades. The signpost is somewhat inaccurate though, as the characters never travel farther north than Wellington.

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