The Kiwi television legend who narrated Country Calendar dies aged 75

Veteran broadcaster and former Country Calendar producer and director Frank Torley has died.

Frank, 75, died peacefully yesterday morning after a short, sharp battle with cancer, his family said.

In February, Sunday spoke to Frank Torley, who died yesterday aged 75. Source: 1 NEWS

Frank retired as the narrator on Country Calendar in February because of problems with his vocal cords.

A few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and was about to undergo weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

His family say he never wanted to be treated as an invalid.

"He told us he had an illness but was not sick," the family said in a statement.

"We were proud he found the energy to speak at Country Calendar's 50th anniversary celebrations in Wellington just days after first being discharged from the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Mr Country Calendar, Frank Torley, has died. Source: TVNZ

"He loved being part of Country Calendar. He loved the people of the land and he loved working on the land."

Frank helped on his uncle's farm as a teenager and was employed as a stock and station agent.

In addition to his broadcasting career, Frank was a small-scale kiwifruit orchardist in the 1980s.

He also owned a lifestyle block in Rangitikei.

Frank was committed to the craft of television. He loved words, his family said. 

"He'd be on the road shooting stories, then spend hours in his home office tapping out scripts on his computer or setting up the next story over the phone."

Frank, who married his wife Jenny in 1966, was a few months away from celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary.

He was survived by his son Mark and daughter Bridget.

Early career working on farms

The news comes just weeks after the well-loved New Zealand farming series turned 50 years.

After working on farms in his earlier years, Frank he joined a stock firm.

He was plucked from the Feilding saleyards to join the NZBC as a rural broadcaster.

That eventually led to a job on Country Calendar. He has remained with the show ever since.

Frank became producer in the early 1980s, a role he continued until 2006.

He then went back to his first love: back on the road directing programmes.

In 2014 and 2015, he narrated all the Country Calendar episodes.

He also presented Canterbury's local television news, fronted Top Town, spent a short period in religious programmes and produced the doco series From Here to Maternity.