People behind your screen (7)

Press, Volume Cx, Issue 32478, 12 December 1970, Page 4

Peter SharpPETER SHARP was born in Christchurch and educated at the Christchurch Boys’ High School, where he was in the drama club, and in his last year played the lead in “Dry Rot," a three act play. He joined the N.Z.B.C. in 1962, writing continuity for television announcers and then, as he recalls, being given responsibility for choosing the disc for the music to accompany the test pattern. “For a week,” he says, “I rushed home to listen to the test’ pattern.” His next advance was in being responsible for where the commercials were to be placed. From there, it was a gradual evolution to floor management and part cameraman. Then he was asked by David Pumphrey to help with research in the ’preparation of a documentary on the Lyttelton tunnel; he also helped to write the script. ’Viewers will recall the success of Julie Anne and Fergie Fang: on the last programme of the series, Peter Sharp made his only positive contribution. He had the distinction of being the hand behind Aunt Matilda.

“In those days, it was a |case of being a Jack-of-all-trades,” said Sharp. There was more research and script writing, floor management and camera work, and he was with "Montage,” the predecessor of “Town and Around.”  He started filming items for this series and appearing now and then as a reporter. He remembers particularly the keen interest aroused by an item on gemstones at Birdling’s Flat. Peter Sharp, from choice, did items of slightly historical nature recalling Mark  Twain’s visit to Christchurch, I was among them.

In 1966. Sharp went to 'England and was away for a year. After he had been there a while, he thought he would seek a job with the BBC. He didn’t get one. "Part of the reason,” he  says, “was that I had just I bought a new suit and coat and wore them, with a Kashmir scarf and kid gloves. Further, I took a taxi to the appointment. I felt very affluent indeed, in those clothes. And it was perhaps because of this that I did not really like all those people in jerseys asking me silly questions. I am sure some of that attitude must have got across to them. However, at least the receptionist outside had been most impressed. Obviously, as far as the BBC was concerned, it was the best thing which could have happened to them.”

Returning to New Zealand in 1967, Sharp became a presentations officer at CHTV3 until at the start, of this year, he took the producers’ course in Wellington. He took part in the first national news link as a presentations officer. Among his first producing jobs were a church outside broadcast and the 1969 Industries Fair. He also produced “Let’s Dance” and “In the Nature of Things,” the science series which will be on the I programmes again next year in a new series. More recently, there was the 1970 Industries Fair, a performance by Alfredo Campoli, and the New Zealand Ballet Company performing "Pineapple Poll.”

‘Pineapple Poll’ has given me most satisfaction as a producer,” he said. "This is perhaps because of its scale. It really felt like a production. The others were more like ad. lib. shows. You worked out roughly where things were going to happen, and planned to a certain extent, but there was a great deal of improvisation. "With ‘Pineapple Poll’ there was the satisfaction of working out what something would look like and sometimes finding out in the studio that the plan worked. It was marvellous working with a professional company such as the New Zealand Ballet."

Asked about his favourite television programme, Peter Sharp said he loved every minute of "Civilisation.” He liked anything that was really good, such as the John Freeman "Face to Face” series, and the combination of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. In his leisure hours, he reads a lot, mostly historical non-fiction. His favourite book is Tolkien’s “Lords of the Ring.” He plays the piano “strictly for himself” i and has recently taken up squash rackets. Surfing is another interest. “I have difficulty with the length of the board and brevity of my arms. I suppose I could be described as an eminently respectable, ageing, surfie, and one who shows i excessive care.” His best standing up time on the board is, he says, four : seconds.

His most embarrassing i working moment? He was sitting back, supervising a new announcer whose training for reading the news had almost been completed. There was a special piece of film for the opening of the news, and it was part of the first film item. The new announcer rolled the film and it started to come up on screen. “I decided it was the wrong film,” said Peter Sharp. “I leaped up, rushed to the control panel and shouted for him to stop the film, Unfortunately. it was the right film Everyone just sat and looked at me, and from there it was a succession of disasters with wrong films and wrong items so that they all had to stop for a while and sort it out.”

More recently, there was i another memorable expedience. “In the first scene of ‘Pineapple Poll’ there is a well in the foreground. I was getting carried away with the music and instructing the cameraman to pan or track left, etc. and suddenly discovered that I had a shot of the floor. The first cameraman had fallen down the well and we all had to help him out. It was, however, only a rehearsal.