Dramatic increase in staff and buildings

First published in The Press, Volume CXI, Issue 32621, 1 June 1971, Page 13

Only four months after the start of regular programmes from CHTV3 on June 1, 1961, the transmission hours were increased from 151 to 29 and since then, the scope of television news coverage and its range of entertainment has expanded steadily. By October, 1962, CHTV3 was transmitting for 36 hours a week and on die station’s third birthday, this was increased again to 50 hours a week.

CHTV3’s sixth anniversary was marked by the introduction of week-day afternoon programmes, bringing the weekly total to 65 hours.

There was a staff of 14 technicians in the Gloucester Street buildings when CHTV3 began. This has now grown to 67, distributed among the Sugarloaf transmitter, the outside broadcast unit, the film sound section and the studios at Gloucester Street. A staff of three or four non - technical workers, originally housed in the McLean Institute building in Oxford Terrace, has grown to 66.

The first transmitter of 10 kilowatts was situated at Gloucester Street, the 100 kilowatt Sugarloaf transmitter opening in October, 1965.

Operations at the start were often extremely difficult There was one small studio for everything, but in very limited space a ballet was produced, as well as an extract from “The Taming of The Shrew.”

As more space became essential, the Orange Hall was used in conjunction with the mobile control room outside broadcast van and if this was a makeshift arrangement, the “Have a Shot” series was produced successfully. Other halls used included the now dismantled Latimer Hall for a ballet and a series of musical programmes and the Girl Guides’ Hall.

But still, with the growth of production, the demand for space increased. Offices were built in the back yard of the Gloucester Street premises. The ground floor of the Canterbury Rugby Union building in Manchester Street was used for some time, until space was available in the Manchester Unity building. There the presentation, production, film processing and editing, news, art and design and cine camera sections are housed.

In addition, a large wool store was converted into a workshop and store for properties and furniture used on the various productions.

Meanwhile, in Gloucester Street, work began on the installation of a continuity suite, its control room, and the associated telecine room housing all the projectors. From the suite the news, weather and spoken announcements originate. The original control room has been re-built and serves a small studio on the ground floor the home of The South Tonight, and small productions. The first studio in the country to be designed for television requirements was built at Gloucester Street, and finishing touches are now being made to the associated control room, which should be in operation next month.

When this is completed, CHTV3 will have a continuity suite, a small studio and a moderately-sized modem studio fully equipped with lighting and cameras and capable of handling most types of productions.

Mobile unit used widely

One of the major developments in CHTV3’s programme organisation and presentation dates from the arrival, in January, 1963, of the outside broadcast van, or mobile control room. Stan Hosgood, a senior producer, has been in charge of it since it was first used.

The first assignment at which the 0.8. U. was used was the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen, in March, 1963. This task caused some concern, for there was no background of experience in its use and only one week earlier, broadcast of athletics at Rugby Park marked its first use. “It went like a dream— I think,” says Hosgood. Stan Hosgood has an expert team in the van. Colin Greenwood has been there since the first day and is technical supervisor. He is responsible for every piece of equipment The mobile unit has been used regularly for church services, all sorts of sports —except racing—and the Industries Fair. It is used about 70 times a year. One of the team’s hair-raising experiences was at an A. and P. show. They could not get a signal from the Show Grounds to Sugar Loaf and back to CHTV3 and the fault could not be found. It never was. But the equipment “righted itself’ just 15 seconds before transmission was scheduled to begin. Valuable as it is now, the mobile unit will assume even more importance if and when national sports round-ups are established. This has been tried only once so far but when there is a full micro-wave link the task will present no especial problems.

Gessler was the first of screen villains

First published in Press, Volume CXI, Issue 32621, 1 June 1971, Page 11

Early evening, June 1,1961. In a very few thousand Christchurch homes, the television sets were on to receive the first regular entertainment from CHTV3. The first programme, in 10 years of service? Conrad Phillips was there, as William Tell, the first of hundreds of small screen adventurers who have thrilled Christchurch audiences.

It did not take long for William Tell to be a Ann favourite, particularly with younger viewers. Jennifer Jayne played his wife, and there was Willoughby Goddard as the villainous Gessler. That Ant night, there was the first series comedy The Larkins, with Peggy Mount and David Kossoff. Michael Denison appeared later that night in Boyd Q.C. and before the station closed down, there was Henry Fonda as Chief Marshal Simon Fry in “The Deputy." The CHTV3 programme schedule for the day shows that transmission began at 7.30 pun. and ended at 9 25 pun. The following day marked the beginning of other shows which became exceedingly familiar to viewers. There was Ann Sothern in Susie, and Patrick McGoohan in Danger Man. On the very first Sunday evening, Donna Reed and her screen family began their outstandingly popular series. How many viewers remember Gale Storm in Oh Susanna? That programme, about a hostess on a cruise liner, began in the first week of CHTV3 regular transmissions and with it, The Four Just Men, with Jack Hawkins. By the time the station had been operating for a month, there were many still familiar favourites. Lucille Ball had started, so had Robin Hood, and Laramie, the Californians and Spycatcher. The Army Game had viewers roaring with laughter. It is harder to recall the reaction to Ronald Colman's Halls of Ivy and Interpol Calling. Very soon after this, Hans and Lottie Hass began some undersea adventures, Lassie was on her missions of goodwill, Fury was a steady performer, and there was Stage 7.

The stories of the Stone family in The Donna Reed Show went on until June, 1964. It maintained a remarkable standard, appealingly inoffensive, always in good taste, often amusing. And the month it ended marked the beginning of Coronation Street At first it screened once a week, then twice a week. Tonight’s episode will be the 566th screened from CHTV3. After just under two years' operation, there was the first production of a locally-written play. This was All Earth to Love by Al Flett It was set in the refreshment room at a railway station. In it were Alan Jervis—seen recently as Kane in The Killing of Kane, Pamela Jones, Barbara Laurenson and Pat Evison, of In View of Circumstances.

Mister Ed, the talking horn, became a popular feature about this time and in August, 1963, “Z Cars" began a steady diet of British crime and detection programmes.

In the early years, one of the most popular programmes, with adults eg well as children, was baaed on Fergle Fang, a delightful puppet show fronted by Judy-Ann Garland and written by John Nash, who manipulated the glove puppets. Many viewers will remember Fergie’s disarming habit of declaring he was a failure, and turning gracefully on to his back. But usually, he was something of smart Aleck, trying to run the affairs of a country cousin or two but not so successful with his tart little aunt. The John Freeman Interviews, Face to Face were startling, and extremely popular, in 1961. And that same year Grandstand began, compered at first by P. B. Vincent, the All Black half-back. In 1963, the Royal tour was big television news and in February that year, CHTV3 produced Its first live telecast of an outside event the Canterbury athletic championships.

So the programmes broadened and strengthened. Platform, a brains trust-type show, and Have a Shot, a talent quest, were there in 1963 and in February, 1964, the opening of the Christchurch/Lyttelton road tunnel was televised. With the development of the staff, the increase in equipment, and years of experience, there are few embarrassing moments these days. But there were some, early. One evening, within the first year, the studio began to reek vilely and there was an immediate call for an inspection of the drains, which disclosed no flaw. The odour was traced, finally, to a malathion spray being exhibited by the garden expert, the late Mr David Combridge.

And when a former district sports officer, Mr D.Williams, interviewed the manager of a visiting Japanese hockey team, considerable trouble was taken with the settings. And with the principals. They both sat, cross-legged, on a Japanese mat. Mr Williams, however, measures considerably more than six feet in height, and when the interview was over, he had the greatest of difficulty in standing up.

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