His impersonation of former prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon sealed producer, writer and actor David McPhail a place in popular culture.
McPhail first came to the attention of the Kiwi public with A Week of It, one of the most successful Kiwi comedy shows of the 70s. He went on to work with comic partner-in-crime Jon Gadsby on the long-running shows Issues, and McPhail and Gadsby. In 2005, McPhail played a controversially straight-talking teacher in popular satire Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.
In 1987 McPhail was a foundation shareholder of TV3, and worked behind the scenes on helping set up the new network. With the sitcom Letter to Blanchy in 1994, the McPhail/Gadsby/Grant team left the skit format behind. In 2008, McPhail and Gadsby began touring the successful play Letter To Blanchy: Stir Crazy.
McPhail's career as a producer and director has included extensive work both on the various television shows, and on stage — often for The Court Theatre, Christchurch.
In 1995, McPhail received the QSM for service to the community. In 2008 he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of services to television and the theatre. Two years later he published the book The Years Before My Death: Memories of a Comic Life (Longacre).