From the New Zealand TV Weekly. September 15, 1969
AUCKLAND Departure of Town and Around producer, Maurice Smythe, to the outside world left room for some interesting speculation on who might inherit the Town and Around berth -- and its associated hot potatoes. The answer came with the appointment of Ian Richards, formerly of Hamilton, who had been helping direct Sonia King's afternoon On Camera sessions. lan will undoubtedly have his problems, but he has a tidy little team to work with and their experience should be a great asset. Pre-departure, Maurice explained the more serious trend of Town and Around under his guidance as a reflection of his training as a journalist. He was less interested in cooking up
funnies - and let's face it, there have been some pretty crass in-jokes offered under this heading in recent years - than in trying to hit the harder type of social commentary. However, his regime will certainly be remembered for two corkers - the great Hamilton macaroni vine in- vestigation and Keith Bracey's oneman hoppicopter . . Maybe Les Andrews should be persuaded, not to try being the funny man of Personality Squares and the weather report humourist. Too many of his whimsies are strained, to say the best. What's wrong with just being a competent front man with a pleasant personality, anyway? . . . . The odd degree of fame which attaches to appearing in front of the cameras makes TV folk popular choices as crowd-attracters for in-store promotions and such events. Margaret Moore has been spreading the good word as the arbiter of gracious living on behalf of one store lately . . . . The figure of 7,943 home-grown productions screened during the past year sounded pretty good. But by the time you removed 5,824 news bulletins and 237 outside broadcasts, the tally of creative work was getting pretty slim. All the more reason to think that, with the current shortage of producers, some lucky young men are going to whiz up through the NZBC ranks at a remarkable pace.
Another change in Well1ngton's Town and Around team is, at the time of writing, being planned. Producer Terry Bryan (whose new programme, In View of Circumstances, was mentioned here last week) is due to take over from Douglas Drury, who took over earlier in the year from Eddie Harris. While Eddie with his news background put emphasis on items with a news flavour, Douglas Drury's highlights have been more in the cultural field. Can we expect then that Terry, who has been something of a pioneer with comedy programmes in New Zealand, will bring a new light touch to Town and Around: It could, in fact, be just the formula to put new life into the programme at a time of the year when in the past it has begun to flag. With talented persons like Relda Familton and Matthew O'Sullivan on the reporting team, Terry should have the scope for exercising his own abilities in this area . . . . The 22- minute play Do You Play Requests? showed that the NZBC can mount its own productions of this type, and made one wonder why a greater effort has not been directed into this field of Television. No one would pretend that Do You Play Requests? was top-flight drama, but it brought out some fine individual performances . . . . Those viewers who wonder why so much American news film is shown on Television rather than film from British sources should appreciate that the American film, often beamed by satellite to the west coast of the United States and then flown to New Zealand or even beamed by satellite to Australia, reaches this country much more quickly. A clinching factor is that the United States film usually includes a voice report while the British film is mute, which means that sound has to be provided at this end, delaying the screening . . . . Many of the series that shortened the long winter evenings - such as The Avengers, and The Power Game - have now ended, and the replacements, as yet, do not generate the same excitement. But Thora Hird as Cr Sarah Danby in The First Lady, which comes in 13 episodes, promises well . . . . Terry Scott, whose last series of Hugh and I (BBC) was something of a bore is back to top form in his new programme Scott On. His dissertation on money, for example was brilliantly done, and his character skits revealed the depth of his talent as a comedian . . . . Issues for Parents provokes lively discussion among viewers, as it is intended to do. but some find the cutoff, just as the themes are being developed, rather frustrating.
Boxing fans can thank a dedicated Christchurch enthusiast and referee, Mr Mickey Drury, for the NZBC's screening of the Famechon-Harada fight. Mr Drury has been bombarding the corporation with letters asking for more boxing on TV and he specifically asked for the Famechon-Harada fight in full. His action probably spurred the corporation's sports section to get the film for local showing. Mr Drury wants the corporation to screen boxing regularly and maintains that there would be no problems in finding sponsors who might back live telecasts of boxing . . . On a recent Sunday, Channel 3 devoted some 25 percent of the viewing time to sport - an hour and a half of cricket and 46 minutes of table tennis. The cricket comprised highlights of the first England-New Zealand test and that was probably fair enough, although not everyone would agree that the time slot - a 3.37 p.m. start - was the best. It was followed by a nine-minute programme, Instant Sculpture, then the table tennis, a film of an international fixture that had been played in the city earlier. It could surely have been held over until a later date. After all not everyone is all that interested in sport and, for that matter, table tennis. Local viewers who look forward to Gallery were probably not very impressed by the official excuse that a fog-bound Christchurch airport had prevented a recent Fridav night showing. Seems that the NZBC had forgotten that ferries still ply between Wellington and Picton and Wellington and Christchurch. It was not as though the corporation had not been forewarned as Christchurch had been fog-bound the previous day and the weathermen had forecast its continuance .. . . . NZBC chairman, Major-General W. S. McKinnon, dashed any hopes of speedy centralisation of Christchurch's radio and TV activities when he visited the city recently. He pointed out that the extensive building project in Opawa was at the architect's drawing stage and the building would take more than three years to complete.
The new building will house all our radio activities together. The Television people will possibly move in with them later on, he said. . . . Incidentally, that 1968 Town and Around offering could well have been labelled the
Brian Edwards Show. Viewers were left with little doubts that Edwards is CHTV3's Town and Around's most valuable property. All the same David McPhail's satirical pieces clearly showed that he is a handy man to have around. While making allowances for some parochialism, loyal viewers had good grounds for some complacency after they had seen the offerings from all channels.
The recent decision to extend On Camera to a 40-minute programme, thereby making it, in terms of episode length, the biggest local production yet screened by NZBC, should, while creating a considerable amount of extra work, give the producers greater scope for new ideas. Such is certainly the case in Dunedin, where a host of new plans are already in hand. Within the next few months producer Rod Cornelius hopes to introduce at lot more
live material from the studio. A greater number of visits to outlying districts in Otago and Southland will also be involved, in an effort to cater for farming communities, which constitute a large proportion of the On Camera audience. Topics of more unusual nature, which there has been too little time for in the past, will also find a place in the programme and one which we are particularly looking forward to is a proposed series on antiques, an idea which developed from Rod Cornelius's own interest in the subject. Another plan, which we are surprised no one has tried before, is to present a series of cooking programmes featuring New Zealand meats as they are served overseas in such countries as Japan, Malaysia and on the Continent. On Camera has already looked at the work of the Meat Board, in particular at the restaurant planned for Expo '70 and the possibility of a cooking series arose from this . . . . While we're on the subject of On Camera, might it not be a good idea to repeat some items at a later time, perhaps in Town and Around, or on Tuesdays or Thursdays, when Town and Around is not shown? The series features a good many items which deserve a far larger audience than they currently receive. Then too, On Camera is a women's programme but no one seems to take into account the vast number of working wives and single women (and let's not forget the menfolk either) who share every bit as much enthusiasm for the topics which, at present, only their house-bound sisters can enjoy on TV.