From the New Zealand TV Weekly. March 31 1969
After the success of the first major essay into Televised ballet, it is not surprising that the NZBC has followed up with a commission for a filmed version of Cinderella. The New Zealand Ballet Company introduced this as a feature of this year's Auckland Festival and the TV presentation will be a version adapted to fit the requirements of the medium and the studio facilities available. It will be one of the biggest NZBC endeavours to date and it will be interesting to see whether Bryan Ashbridge, obviously the most experienced man for the job will be brought back from Sydney to handle production. One thing is certain: Extensive overseas sales could be expected if it can be shot in colour . . . . It has taken an Aussie firm to make the most of one of our national enthusiasms, horse racing. Emerald Films Ltd. is to shoot a $650,000 drama series in colour here under the title, Winning Ticket. Work locally is due to start in June and it should offer lots of opportunities for local actors. Oddly enough, the leading players, Bob Haddow and Jo Stening (previously Josephine Brunet), are both expatriate Kiwis. The company also intends to recruit technical staff in this country ... Maybe too much is expected of the small fry. There have been complaints about the toughness of some of the Top Mark questions, set by quiz king, Jim Winchester. If they're tough for the competitors, who should be more clueful than the average, how much tougher they must be for young viewers . . . That was a shrewd idea to
kidnap the new Town and Around host, Donald Evans, at the start of the new series and he seems to be settling down well in his job. To some extent, a compère is only as good as the material he is given, but producer Maurice Smyth is always alert for new ideas and some of the notions on his file sound sure-fire... There is always an over-supply of potential material on hand during Auckland Festival time, and maybe viewers tend to suffer from a surfeit of goodies. Maybe it would be an idea to save some of it up for later screening when arts and crafts-and their practitioners-are less available.
After some dull Television, the return of Town and Around and other local programmes was very welcome. Producer Eddie Harris has gathered a strong team of reporters with Relda Familton, Bill Saunders, Jim Siers, Kelvin Gardner and Alan Lyne, and the opening programme was well up to previous standards. Occasionally there have been suggestions that viewers must be growing tired of the old format, and some of the old faces; but Town and Around, with Peter Read, has a seemingly unshakeable hold on local viewers affections. . . Producer Des Monaghan is fulfilling the promise he showed earlier. His John Rowles documentary, with Keith Aberdein directing, was skilfully and sensitively handled. Admittedly John Rowles is the kind of Television personality our producers must dream about, but Monaghan managed to capture him on film both as the big star and the local boy made good . . . Monaghan is also in charge of Gallery this year, and. has some lively ideas mapped out for it. It should become a twice weekly show about the time this is published, after starting off the year in a weekly slot. One of Monaghan's bright ideas is to have a spot reserved for (hopefully) controversial comment by a top journalist. He also aims to cover the topical events of the week, at home or overseas, with comment and background material... The NZBC was obviously dismayed by the reaction to the Billy Graham interview, in which panellists Cherry Raymond, Brian Edwards and Peter Williams fired questions at the evangelist. For years the NZBC has been urged to become more vigorous in cross examining personalities-and when it finally summons up its courage, what happens? The whole thing blows up in the NZBC's collective face. There was, of course, more to the Billy Graham story than most viewers were aware of when they sent in their letters of protest. Undoubtedly Billy Graham was well rehearsed, and knew what to expect; and so came out on top. . . At the time of writing, the NZBC was still debating whether to show another lively interview in unexpurgated form, this one with Dennis Brutus, who came to N.Z. to talk about apartheid and rugby. According to those in the know, the interview opened vigorously with a question from Gerry Symmans that appeared to upset Mr Brutus. The question being hotly debated was whether this then should be screened as it was filmed... It is reported that top US shows Star Trek and Get Smart which retain their popularity here are due for the axe back home . . Continuity announcer Anna Rutherford is now Mrs D. M. Blakeney, of Lower Hutt. . . Producer John Barningham has come up with a novel idea for ta telephone request session on Television. In Off the Cuff viewers who have previously written in to the channel will be telephoned and asked for their request which will then be performed by resident artist Ronnie Davern or a guest artist such as Jim McNaught, Lew Pryme or Marise McDonald.
The screening of that Oxford Union debate, Vive la Difference, coincided in Christchurch with the Royal Society of Health conference, and the two events stimulated Fendalton vicar, cricket commentator and general TV all-rounder, the Rev. Bob Lowe, to write in a local newspaper:
While the Royal Society of Health heard evidence of grave moral decay and a venereologist condemned an increasingly permissive society, Christchurch viewers giggled at the Oxford Union debate . . . Since the name speakers were little known to us, and since many of the jokes were esoteric references to Oxbridge life and contemporary British politics, we are left with the conclusion that it was the other bits We liked; the dirty bits. Serious viewers will almost certainly go along with Mr Lowe's conclusion, but whether they would go along with his suggestion that Channel 3 could well devote its attention to the activities of the city's debating societies to greater advantage is another matter. According to Mr Lowe there is
a rich deposit of local wit here and it lends itself well to the camera. The suggestion certainly warrants further investigation, however, for Christchurch with some 76,000 licensed TV sets (second in the country behind Auckland) is not providing much in the way of domestic productions, let alone thought stimulating ones calculated not only to entertain but also stimulate civic consciousness. . . . . Newsreader and continuity man, George Taylor, must have had second thoughts about that moustache. It was cut off before it reached its prime. . . . . Male viewers who bewail the fact that the weekly evening TV fare no longer includes more than one Western - Thursday night's Cimarron Strip - might well be excused for feeling let down by those strange folk (the programmers) who are now providing three Westerns weekly for what must be predominantly female viewing audiences. So far the NZBC has given the baffled males no cause to believe that the female of the species has the more voracious appetite for Westerns. . . . . In much the same vein it is hard to understand the thinking behind the decision to screen the two hour-long adaptations of Sir Walter Scott's Heart of Midlothian during afternoon sessions. This was good viewing material for a couple of Sunday nights when both sexes could give their undivided attention - something the majority of feminine viewers were probably unable to do during the afternoon screenings, in any event.
The first new programme to be produced at DNTV2 this year will be one for the children entitled. Five Live. Producer, Bruce Morrison explained that, as suggested by the title, eaoh 30-minute programme will feature five personalities and will be divided into seven segments-lively indeed! Colin Lehmann is to act as front man and he will also introduce a weekly topic, which may range from men's fashions to the space race: Neville Logan, a free lance artist, from Auckland will be on hand to compère a section dealing with facts on New Zealand and he will provide his own illustrations on a map of the country: a weekly book review is to be presented by Victoria White, a philosophy student at Otago University: Michael Loader, a local school teacher will lead a discussion' on animals, ranging from apes to axolotls: and finally, Kevin Mills who will appear in two segments, one dealing with pop groups and their backgrounds, and the other an item on show business which will introduce many of the stars of well-known TV series. Throughout the series a sixth character will be making occasional appearances to sketch and generally discredit the other five. We're not allowed to reveal his identity, but Bruce Morrison tells us he will be an
incurable romantic, something of a liar and not to be taken seriously. The first of these 16 programmes, which, incidentally, are aimed at the 8 to 12 age group, will begin screening from DNTV2 on April 10 1969