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McPhail – one half of the famed McPhail and Gadsby satirical comedy show which dominated New Zealand television in the 80s - died of a heart attack in the early hours of Friday morning, aged 76.
Former colleagues, fellow actors and TV personalities, along with a wide group of friends and tight-knit family, including wife of 54 years Anne, turned out for the “celebration of David’s life” this afternoon at Christchurch’s Westpark Chapel in Burnside - where McPhail helped farewell Jon Gadsby who died six years ago.
They paid tribute to not just a trailblazing satirist, but more importantly, a devoted father-of-two and beloved grandfather-of-four.
“Above all his towering talents, he was a good man - good, in every sense of the word,” said McVeigh, who described McPhail as kind, loyal, compassionate, “judiciously sceptical”, and generous.
McVeigh also highlighted his friend’s “unique and profound” acting talent, recalling a performance in Edward Albee’s great play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
“His performance was not just impressive – it was indelible,” McVeigh told the large gathering, which spilled into overflow rooms.
Rowley described McPhail as “one of the most important people in my life”, saying he was humble and forgiving, “especially with me”.
His “magnetic” personality attracted a talented team which created a “fast-paced bullet train of satirical force”.
“Thank goodness, otherwise it would never have got off the ground,” he said.
The show created such a cult following, Johnson said, that “even the haters kept on watching”.
His family, including his wife Anne, children and grandchildren, gave emotional tributes to McPhail.
“Poppa was my hero,” his grandson Milo said.