Shortland Street was New Zealand's first primetime five-days-a-week soap. The first episode aired on May 25, 1992.

Shortland Street incorporates many features of the genre which have been introduced with success overseas. It was devised to attract a teenage audience, social issues form the backbone of the storylines and it exploits, where possible, attractive exterior locations.

Since its beginning the programme has provided a training ground for a whole new generation of New Zealand writers, actors and crew.

Shortland Street is set in a medical clinic in New Zealand and chronicles the lives and loves of the staff and their patients. In the real world of the 1990s it tackles current and local subjects modern audiences can relate to. Sometimes controversial as it confronts social issues of the day, it is sometimes humorous and always entertaining.

Shortland Street has been sold to 25 English-speaking countries.



Jonathon Alexander McKenna is one of those rare beasts - a born winner. Drop dead gorgeous, highly intelligent, gifted athlete and all round Mr Nice Guy. He's popular with everyone. To know him is to like him. To know him well can be another story - just ask Nick Harrison.

The same age as Nick, Jonathon breezed through school and now finds himself in seventh form - one year ahead of Nick. They saw a lot of each other as children and Jonathan always found the mental torture of young Nick too much fun to resist. Jonathan now comes across as older and far more sophisticated than the perennially adolescent Nick.

Jonathon is by no means cruel but his arrogant flippancy cuts like a knife. Having never experienced rejection and self-doubt, Jonathon is blithely ignorant of the emotional pain of others. Others, that is, except for his mother and sister. Jonathon and Alex are best of friends and he is Alex's staunchest ally in her stormy relationship with Michael. Jonathon is protective of his baby sister but often finds himself competing wither her for parental funds and attention.

He is constantly at Loggerheads with Michael, who finds his only son irritating. Life seems too easy for him. Michael is not impressed that Jonathan has been expelled from his expensive boarding school.

Jonathan is an adventurer - you name it, he'll try it.


By Barbara Cairns & Helen Martin

"A fascinating study of the series and New Zealand's television industry written for students and fans."

MacMillan Publishers New Zealand Ltd, 1996
ISBN 0-908923-39-2, 120 pages


Excerpts concerning the character Jonathan McKenna (Kieren Hutchison):

Page 73 - THE STORIES - The guidelines
Jon JamieThe representation of Jamie (Karl Urban) and Jonathon's love story is a goodexample of how Shortland Street breaks new ground in New Zealand television while playing by the rules. Its introduction of a relationship between gay male characters, culminating in a kiss, was a primetime breakthrough for local television drama. Because of the PGR restrictions the scene cut away before the men's lips met, showed Sam's reaction, then cut back to show the men pulling apart.

Student fans are pleased to see their profession represented in the soap. 'It amused us when Jonathon talked about living in Dunedin his classes at Medical School, his friends and so on. It is script for him but reality for us.'

Chapter 7 - AUDIENCE
Page 97 - Effects
Not all claims about the effects of watching Shortland Street are negative. In one letter to The TV Guide, a teenager wrote the gay storyline involving Jamie (Karl Urban) and Jonathon had helped him accept his own sexuality,…

Shortland Street © South Pacific Pictures

Shortland Street
German Site
Kieren Hutchison