Originally published in New Zealand TV Weekly 31 October, 1966
Guess who gets most fan mail at AKTVZ? Put your bets on Peter Smith, art teacher at a high school, who handles the do-it-yourself bits and pieces for the small fry. Obviously, he also has a big audience of interested mums... Gardening session finally under way with former parks director Jim McPherson wisely figuring that his viewers know next to nothing, but not talking down to them in discussing simple basics o' green-fingerhood... Five ballet programmes in the can now and one to go. As a preliminary, producer Bryan Ashbridge will discuss ballet with Bill Leathwick. Watch for his elegant cufflinks. Joyce Cronin spotted them, popped a query, and found they had been given to Bryan by Margot Fontcyn after partnering her in Swan Lake... Wonder whether the tardy Top Ten list revealed by the NZBC would still be correct since Town and Around has taken such a slide in overall quality... Impending motherhood suited Shirley Maddock during her recent interview. Gathered from this that the current Tall Trees and the Gold series will not provide her with the basis for another book... Town and Around's team seems to be in need of a reshuffle. The Barry Crump interviews are getting banal and the personalities of some of the other; wearing a bit thin. Tom Finlayson, one of the few Kiwis with the programme, seems the most durable member, mainly because he is selfefacing. But he should steer clear of too many would-be humorous excursions. Why not swap Town and Around material between centres?
The NZBC, which has taken the sensible step of publishing hitherto secret results of TV programme ratings, says it plans to issue the ratings each month. Should be interesting to chart the popularity or otherwise of various programmes. But it's all very well publishing the ten best-what about the ten worst? Audience research won't start in Otago-Southland until the beginning of next year, so we will not know until next March at the earliest whether Deep South tastes differ... Town and Around, Auckland version, got top rating, Wellington's was voted only second, and Christchurch's third in the respective lists-food for thought here. The only other locally made programme to get rated was NZBC Reports... What about the controversial Compass? Perhaps the criticism from ex-producer Gordon Bick and university men Reg Harrison and Austin Mitchell, regarding the NZBC's attitude to political programmes, was all too true... Footnote to the Bick controversy: If the D-G is the Editor-in-chief, why did the corporation need to import BBC journalists Waldo Maguire and Ted Parkinson to control the news and public affairs sections? Bick, at time of writing, was considering several job offers. He was, too, interested in writing a column for The Dominion. Colleagues presented him with a pewter tankard inscribed
1966 Compass Trophy: For Velour after the final programme in the series this year.
Gordon Bick's resignation following the decimal currency 'incident' quickly moved Christchurch's Austin Mitchell to state publicly that Topic has faced the same problems as Compass. But in his opinion, direct political interference with the NZBC does not exist-censorship is self-imposed,
It is a red herring to look for political interference in an organisation which censors itself. The same people are running the corporation who ran the New Zealand Broadcasting Service, he said.
They are still thinking along self-censorship lines and they are conditioned to being subservient to both political parties. They are terrified of the politicians ... Dr Mitchell remained in the limelight all week after the 'Bick Affair'. A Channel 3 camera was trained on him when he addressed some 300 people at a luncheon to mark the opening of Book Week and in his opening remarks the NZBC came in for some sharp jabs that had his audience in fits of laughter but probably left the top brass spluttering in agony... Opera star Rita Streich, back in town for her final Christchurch concert, revealed that while in Australia she had done a commentary for the film husband Dieter Berger had made there with her. Apparently it follows the lines of the well-received TV film on Vienna, but is longer.
Ex-DNTV2 announcer Colin Lehmann, now working with Channel GMV6, Shepparton, Victoria, is rumoured among his many enthusiastic fans in Australia to be so enamoured of the programme Flipper (about a performing porpoise) that he's teaching his pet goldfish to do tricks. Bet Charlie the Mouse is squeaky-furious with jealousy... DNTV2 is to have, by now may already have, its first Maori continuity announcer - Tui Uru from New Plymouth... Trevor Peters, whose first programme of Asian Dances has already been telecast, is making a series of similar programmes, again with lissome and lovely Johnny Frisbie as the 'hula' hostess... For all the tripping abound Australia accomplished by June Porter of Programmes during her recent trans-Tasman vacation, she managed to see quite a bit of Aussie TV. Potted comments:
They seem to be producing more of their own shows with both My Name's McGooley, What's Yours? (comedy) and Homicide (detective) being set in Sydney; pop programmes at least one every night on one channel or another, and always an hour long; having a choice of four channels is just too much, especially when there are a number of people viewing, all with different tastes, but by the time you've decided what programme the majority wants to watch, it's over; the Australians think Graham Kerr is absolutely terrific-he carries on the same way he does in our NZBC programmes, but dresses for the occasion, dinner jacket and bow tie, and is not nearly as concerned about showing brand names on bottles, etc., as he is over here.