From the New Zealand TV Weekly. August 19, 1968


Do you think it would be a good thing for the NZBC to get off its conservative behind and improve its standards? This, by implication, was the suggestion of visiting TV advertising expert, Harry W. McMahan, who drew the parallel with the BBC and said it needed the advent of commercial TV to get it off its equally conservative rump. Although Mr McMahan was sure that existing facilities and personnel could produce better programmes, you're not likely to get them until the NZBC gets some healthy competition. For local advertising men invited to the seminar, some of his demonstration ad clips from abroad were quite a revelation . . . . Not much exposure yet for the intriguing personality of part-Maori Maree Wehipehana, newest Town and Around recruit. The programme definitely needed at feminine touch at times and Maree, an ex-journalist (Wellington and then Paris fashion mags) could be the answer . . . . Nothing could be guaranteed to make local young mums more scratchy than former English TV photographer A. D. Cameron's bleak comments on the lack of glamour they show when they get to the doddery old age of 26 . . . . Another batch of local drama coming up, with Douglas Drury due to turn out the curtain-raiser, Do You Play Requests? a comedy by Hugh Leonard. It will break away from the previous policy of having the material set in New Zealand . . . . Recording due to start on another bunch of 13 Country Touch programmes. Looks like veteran Tex Morton is embarked on yet another career . . . . Remarkable how much interest the championship golf shows create among non-golfers . . . . Preoccupation withfantasy is no less unhealthy because the fantasy is given some of the trappings of objective reality through a Television set. Now there's a Health Department thought to ponder! Can apply to many viewers, but actually they were writing about Television's virtues as therapy in mental hospitals.


If the NZBC has struck a rough patch with its drama, and is also finding it difficult to maintain a high standard with its current affairs programmes, it has scored heavily with light entertainment programmes. Producer John Barningham is the latest to come up with a good series in this field with his Here-the Hits, and joins Kevan Moore, Bryan Easte, and Christopher Bourn among the corporation's top-flight producers. Barningham got the idea for his show from listening to a Pop group's recording of the tune I Got Rhythm. He started wondering about other tunes of the same vintage, and so built up his theme of the hits of other years . . . . Sir Hugh Greene's departure as director-general of the BBC may have a noticeable impact on the programmes we see. It was under Greene's aegis that people like David Frost (and for that matter, Alf Garnett) got their chance on Television- he gave the go-ahead for some of the famous satirical programmes like That Was the Week That Was, and some commentators believe that Sir Hugh has been given the push because he opened the Television studios too wide to controversy and liberalism . . . . Granada's documentary Death by Misadventure? about the Lusitania disaster, had a peculiar topicality from WNTV1 at a time when Wellingtonians were immersed in the evidence being given to the Wahine inquiry . . . . The Compass team made a rather weak job of budget analysis. The programme lacked the bite of last year's effort which had a memorable confrontation between Finance Minister Muldoon and Dr W. B. Sutch. Another cogent criticism was that questioners, David Beatson and Ian Cross, got too involved in their own brilliance, and asked questions that were far too complex. But a word of praise for Steve Whitehouse's programme on the giro system, and the disappearance of the DC3 from our skies . . . . WNTV1 has been catching some excellent films from the grab-bag of movies the NZBC buys in its package deals, Among the best were The Juggler, with Kirk Douglas, and Watch on the Rhine, with Paul Lukas in his Academy Award Winning role (vintage 1942) . . . . National Party conference delegates were apparently convinced that the NZBC was trying to show them in worst light possible. New Zealand TV Weekly Complaints about the Television coverage reached right up to the top. But perhaps it showed that the delegates didn't have much else to talk about?


Suggestions by some speakers at the recent annual meeting of the Canterbury Progess League that Christchurch had been given unfavourable publicity by the local newspapers and Channel 3's Town and Around, brought a sharp and fair retort from Town and Around front man, Bernard Smyth. Subjects of all the fuss were United States sailors from two warships which had just completed a duty tour around Viet- nam and spent the best part of a week in the city. Along with news- papermen, Town and Around reporter Brian Edwards interviewed a sampling of sailors soon after the ships' arrival. Gist of their story was that Christchurch, was Dullsville. This evidently got under the skins of Progess League men. But the fact remained that the newspaper and Town and Around publicity shook citizens out of their lethargy and when the ships finally sailed, the crewmen owned up to having a whale of a time. The point Smyth made was that without the newspaper and Town and Around publicity, Christchurch would still have been Dullsville as far as the matelots were concerned, and he told viewers and Progress League objectors so in no uncertain fashion. Fair enough, too . . . . By July's end the Post Office had successfully prosecuted 181 people in the Canterbury viewing area for not having TV licences this year. Evidently some of those prosecuted were under the impression that a fine, court costs, and the solicitor's fee gave them the right to continue unlicensed viewing. The Post Offce lost little time in putting them right on that one! . . . . Those Sunday evening religious spots have come in for some criticism from time to time and evidently someone in Christchurch has taken it to heart, for Christchurch's well-known TV cricket commentator, the Rev. Bob Lowe, who has a sparkling turn of phrase, has been called in to do a couple of programmes scheduled to reach viewers very shortly. Channel 3's Peter Muxlow produced them for the National Council of Churches and rumour has it that there is a certain Frost Report flavour about the presentations with Mr Lowe the front man . . . . Channel 3 production supervisor, Stanley Hosgood, and his men cashed in on the visit to the city of the Russian Spectacular stage show with the co-operation of the Russians who turned on an exclusive performance in a city theatre before three video cameras and a production crew. Two 25-minute programmes are being compiled from the video film. Time prevented a full dress rehearsal, so Hosgood took in the show in Masterton just to see how it should be recorded, then sent a production crew to Blenheim to have a look, also. Then, just to get everything set up, the whole team sat through two Christchurch shows before getting down to work in the otherwise empty theatre . . . . The appearance of vocalist Caroline Mitchell in a recent C'mon '68 show made the programme one of more than usual interest for some Christchurch viewers-those to whom Caroline teaches music. One young man, who is being taught the guitar by Caroline, happened to be in hospital and missed the show, so had his mates checkup on his teacher. Their verdict that she came over well pleased him greatly.


Heavy snow in the Te Anau and Milford Sound areas provided plenty of scope for some first-class documentary filming- by a team from DNTV2 which visited the area for five days recently. The documentary, which is expected to be completed about October, takes a look at birdlife in the Fiordland area, the work of the local National Park Board and the work carried out by wildlife officers . . . . The production team's visit to Milford proved to be quite an experience. Because of the bad weather, the road to Milford from Te Anau was practically impassable, with the result that the production team arrived at the Milford Hotel to find they had not been expected. To make matters worse, the hotel was without electricity, apart from a small emergency supply which was being used for water heating. Despite the surprise of their arrival, however, Rod Cornelius, who headed the team, reports that they were very well received and were able to carry on with their filming, as well as collecting an interesting item for the major news bulletin.

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