Originally published in New Zealand TV Weekly 30 June, 1969
No matter how good the programme, sooner or later people start to get restive and popularity slumps. Town and Around has been suffering from such a downturn of late; Nothing really wrong with it although the buoyant Town and Around. of yesteryear is but a memory but it just seems a bit lacking in bite and purpose. Of course, it is an appalling job trying to find enough of the right sort of material to fill such a programme day in and day out. Anyway, front man Donald Evans has found a nice little outside bonanza, he's appearing frequently as a photographic model for suits. It should result in a sartorially faultless appearance before the cameras - but could he please stop that coy sideways look?... Junior joke department: What’s the opposite to a Maxie Cryer? A Minni-Haha... Must educational Television be too expensive to be considered at the present time? Not according to visiting television equipment representative, Peter Threlfall. He says that a university, or a similar sort of organisation, could start an educational station for as little as $20,000. No great range was required - seven or eight miles would cover the bulk of the urban population, and all that would be needed would be a transmitter, small studio, mast and aerial. Because there was no congestion of frequencies here, there was no need for more expensive closed circuit TV installations. While here, Mr Threlfall had a glum note for those who are looking forward to colour TV. It will be some years before we can afford it, he thinks.
In a week that the impending departure of producers Chris Bourn and Mike Devine became public, the NZBC was trying to lure Ian Johnstone back on contract, but at the time of writing had not been able to clinch the terms. Ian Johnstone would be the kind of acquisition needed to offset the loss of Bourn and Devine. As one of the few front men who has had production experience Ian will strengthen the public affairs section if he signs up again... Chris Bourn who has shown versatility as a producer, with such diverse programmes as sports telecasts and light entertainment (as well as that sad memory The Family Game) is heading off to Canada to try for the big money and gain experience in colour television. His Studio One has gone from strength to strength this year, with the public response in the 'New Faces' contest producing thousands of letters each week to be sorted. Some of the judging comments in the song writing section are stilted but they build up nicely for the tense moment when the figures go up on the boards. Those composers who had the songs performed by Toni Williams had a break. His professional polish gave them a lift not equalled by others such as the Kini quartet, good as the Kini boys are... Kevan Moore’s big-budget programme C'mon seems just a little stylised on its return to our screens but no doubt Kevan will have some ideas to give it a new bounce... Gallery had a poor week with a feeble panel discussion by an ill-assorted quartet of the American race to the moon, followed on the Friday by another painful discussion on the Rhodesian programme, and a postscript that was all but unintelligible. Luckily better things are in store... Producer Iain McLean, who hardly got rave notices for his series on The Invisible Men, is working on a documentary about Captain Cook. But it is not an easy proposition, since there is so little evidence extant about what kind of man Cook really was.
David Combridge, who has almost certainly given more information and advice to gardeners than anyone else in New Zealand, retired from radio and Television on June 7. Mr Combridge studied under the Royal Horticultural Society and won a silver medal by coming first in an examination taken by 280 students. In the early '30s he was writing for two Christchurch newspapers and subsequently conducted a gardening session on 3YA. In 1937 he became one of the first team of announcers at 3ZB and for Years he conducted three weekly gardening sessions, one of which was for children. In 1960, when television began in New Zealand, he started fortnightly sessions which later became weekly sessions. Although he has left radio and television, David Combridge will continue writing on gardening, but he will have more time to devote to one of his chief hobbies, photography, and also hopes to spend more time angling... When Town and Around front man, Kerry Stevens, was out of town for a week recently it was David McPhail, an old hand in the team, who stepped in to fill the breach and he made such a good fist of it that more than one viewer might have been excused for wondering whether McPhail's Channel 3 days might be numbered. It seems that once a man makes his mark in this neck of the woods the NZBC is prone to buy him a one-way ticket to Wellington. McPhail has an easy TV manner, but the facile fashion in which he switched from front man to the competent chairing of a panel discussion on the hot local topic of a contemplated change in the format of Canterbury University's Capping Week added weight to a growing conviction that McPhail is one of the most versatile of the local TV people... Sung by the Kini Quartet, of Auckland, Valley Inn may not have rung the bell with Studio One's judging panel, but this George Gerard composed song, which did not lack the full flavour of commercialism, certainly turned the spotlight well and truly on one of this city’s better known hostelries which, over the years, has built up a reputation for providing entertainment for patrons. There might have been some gamesmanship in this Studio One entry. If there was, good luck to whoever thought up the idea. That sort of exposure at a peak viewing time has never come cheaply before... Producer Peter Muxlow is injecting some meaty material into On Camera with his new monthly series of discussions in which a panel with a guest expert answer viewers’ questions on serious issues. The first in the series dealt with husband-wife relationships and it would not be surprising if this rather adventurous (at least for the NZBC) series becomes 'must' viewing for housewives and shift workers, who, of necessity, must confine their viewing to the afternoon... A pat on the back for Ron Findlay, whose story of Wales-All Black confrontations was as neat a piece of Grandstand work as has been seen for many a Monday night. The presentation was handled with resource, if not backed with much in the way of resources of the monetary type and it certainly contributed in no small fashion to what is at least as far as Welsh and New Zealand Rugby fans are concerned the Rugby legend.
Someone has really been alert on the job of editing the nature series The Wild Kingdom since the episode a few weeks back when compere Marlin Perkins urged viewers to
be like the hibernating bears of Yellowstone National Park and provide for your future by insuring with Mutual of Omaha! The advertisement was so neatly tied into the script that this oversight in editing was quite understandable and in any case, it’s satisfying to find out what follows in place of what we normally see as brut breaks in the programme. While on the subject Wild Kingdom must be one of the best nature series to reach our screens. Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler who the compare and 'Star' in the series may not have the smooth looks or raw talent of a Daktari cast; in fact it’s just this roughness at the edges which makes the series so real and exciting. What well-groomed, high paid actor would risk his neck wrestling, bare-handed, a 4001b crocodile or a 30ft anaconda; sitting side by side at a waterhole with African elephants or posing calmly with a live vampire? No such thing as affection training here, either!... No longer eligible for the teen set, we nevertheless enjoy keeping up to date with the Pop World especially in recent months when overseas music standards have shown a sharp rise. Not so in New Zealand, however, if one were to judge from C’mon ’69. The show has the quality of overseas music, and little else. Long hair and mini skirts are still in, but those plunging necklines are much better suited to the long-flowing filmy gowns, which are even more fashionable, than to that energetic dancing of C’mon and in Dunedin at any rate, the dolly rocker look went out ages ago. Then there are the artists: no doubt they are talented - they are certainly paid for their services and therefore can have no excuse for continual out of time singing; stilted self-conscious movement; and tired, haggard appearances, all presented on what looks to be last year’s set with a bit of new paint. Teenagers frequently complain that C’mon is the only programme provided especially for them, in which case they’ll make the most of C’mon ’69. It's a pity though, that they can’t be all be given something of a respectable standard.