TV producer has many roles to fill

from the NZ Sunday Times, May 30th 1965

Viewers know him as the front man for Compass. But Compass takes up only a fraction of the working week of Alan Morris, chief TV producer for the NZBC. I'm responsible for production standards and most of the content of all programmes made in New Zealand, he told me.

Ideally, a producer is a diplomat, administrator, accountant and, of course, creator, Ideally. But there's no limit to what you can do in TV except your own imagination and intelligence. And, particularly ill a new TV set-up, your ability to get around problems.

Problem number one for Allan Morris is time. On his desk when I called were the following (all to be dealt with before he flew south the next day to check up On local productions)

  • Material for a new medical series, showing where New Zealand stands in knowledge and research. The pilot film will be made next month
  • Notes from an Australian designer who came over from the A.B.C. and recommended improvements in backgrounds and general design,
  • Work on a half-hour documentary, a spotlight on a small New Zealand town.
  • Applications for jobs from TV people overseas.

Gold Award

Allan Martin - he's been the brains behind Compass -and I know so many of these people that we work a kind of Interpol for the NZBC recruiting officer, Mr, Morris said.

Mr. Morris is an expreienced producer. He has had top jobs with the BBC and Associated Re-Diffusion. A Documentary he made for the BBC. The Land That Waited, won the Gold Award of the Australian Film Instiute in 1963.

Why, then, did his High Summer flop? Let's face it, Hi Summer was a bit curate's eggy, he laid. But New Zealand is not a light-entertainment country, except for teens and oldsters.

We must be the only western country where this kind if show - After Dark was another - doesn't go down. We get embarrassed. It's extraordinary.

Compass, produced by Allan Martin, New Zealand Television Workshop's award for the best factual programme. Viewers everywhere talked about it. Why was it successful?

I think it's because we New Zealanders gobble up information, said Mr. Morris.

We're isolated and we know it, and we want to know what's happening.

Then, for the first time on TV, New Zealand was exposed to New Zealanders, and by New Zealanders. Everyone likes this hind of comment and criticism. We feel the need for it.

Asked what programmes he would follow if viewing was not in the line of duty, he listed:

  • Coronation Street.
  • All documentaries.
  • Travel and natural history series.
  • Any play which caught his fancy.
  • Steptoe & Son and early Hancock - realistic comedy.

I look for revelation - something that will push out my personal barriers. he said. It could be a children's or a religious programme, anything.

TV sweeps across every facet of the human condition. That's why lt's so satisfying to work in it - and often to watch.

Compass (1964 - 69)