From the New Zealand TV Weekly. August 25, 1969
The rumours which were whizzing around that Town and Around was-to be dropped on the departure of producer Maurice Smyth seem to have been a bit like the celebrated reports of Mark Twain's death - greatly exaggerated. However, it does seem probable that Town and Around is on its last legs in all centres and will disappear when the national news link comes into being. Then, one presumes, each channel will take the link and then move on to a sort of magazine programme of minor local news, interviews and Town and Around-type featurettes. It would be-a pity if this was not the case - Town and Around plays a very definite part in the overall coverage of the scene and an outlet of some sort for this type of material is essential . . . Yet another departure: Jeremy Payne, with Town and Around for a time and then back with the newsroom, off to Australia to see what is offering there . . . . It will be a long time before colour TV comes to New Zealand, but thousands of Aucklanders are seeing it this month. HMV (N.Z.) Ltd has been showing live colour Television programmes during the International Trade Fair. Subsequently, the equipment is to go to Wellington for NZBC evaluation . . . Everything has gone very quiet since the powerful four-company consortium announced its intention of seeking a country-wide TV-radio licence. I just can't see the NZBC wearing this no matter how great the pressure on the politicians. Being election year, they will be like Br'er Rabbit -
Lay low and say nufiin until the poll results are in. After which the Government in power will be able to scuttle the proposition with, of course, all sorts of plausible reasons . . . . Still waiting to hear when the hush-hush Alpha Plan serial is to be unveiled. Some say next month, but that's not definite . . . . Sandy Edmonds continues to hit it rich with Telly and recording work in Australia, but she must be more prepared to accept the working conditions there than her sister popster Eliza Keil. She arrived back saying she had had enough of Sydney TV and its casual production methods. In fact, she walked out of work which was offering rather than accept, in her opinion, lack of rehearsals and mediocre production . . . . No matter how fantastic they might be, one is starting to get a bit tired of repeats of the Moon walk films with the shimmery shapes of the bouncing astronauts. However, nobody could ever condone the irate viewers who rang to complain that the original Moon film screenings deprived them of their customary diet of He and She. We're a weird mob!
The Kiwi talent of
do-it-yourself should find full expression in the new competition sponsored by the On Camera programme, in which women are being asked to re-design a kitchen for a family, using a basic plan. The designers have to give a floor plan, and sketch plan of each wall or elevation, and choose a colour scheme, supporting the entry with a written explanation. Entries are to be judged on the ingenuity, practicality and appearance of the kitchen. As mentioned in this column earlier, a $100 prize will be awarded to the best plan in each region (Northern, Central and Southern), with an additional $500 for the national winner whose plan will be chosen from the three regional winners. The three regional winners' designs will be shown on Television in plan and model form. It is already clear that the competition will prove as popular as the similar competition run on WNTV1 last year . . . The final programme of Off the Cuff from Wellington's Opera House, despite sour notices from local critics, had strong audience reaction. Meanwhile John Barningham's other current production, Girls to Watch Music By, is also getting high local ratings, with Miss Lee Grant's performance highly polished and professional . . . Yolande Gibson has won her campaign against the archaic law which prevented under-age performers from appearing in hotel bars. An amendment now before Parliament will allow even the youngest performer to appear, providing that he (or she) is not taking part in the serving or selling of liquor . . . The NZBC is sometimes accused of being the mouthpiece of the Government. But it is proving its independence of the Government line on a number of issues, including the war in Vietnam, by consistently showing films that express an opposite point of view. For example a recent BBC documentary on the Vietnam war was so loaded with anti-war propaganda that it made some viewers almost choke. Did they include the chairman of the NZBC, former Chief of the General Staff, Major-General W. S. McKinnon? That is a secret . . . The sudden illness of the chairman of the Broadcasting Authority, Mr R. T. Garlick, should not have any effect on the hearing of applications for private radio stations . . . The NZBC must be getting worried about its public image. It is reported here that the call has gone out for the appointment of a public relations officer at a salary said to be in the region of $7,000 a year. That should attract some competent applications.
It would appear that the number of home-grown productions bears no relationship to the number of producers possessed by each of the NZBC's TV channels. The point was underlined mid-July when word came through that the resignation of Auckland Town and Around producer, Maurice Smyth, would reduce that channel's producer strength to four, one of whom, Kevan Moore, is employed on a contract basis, while another, Ian Richards, is based in Hamilton. At that stage Christchurch producing strength stood at seven, Dunedin at five and Wellington at 14. Remarkable thing is that home-grown output at Auckland and Dunedin is probably double that of Wellington and Christchurch . . . However, Auckland strength was due for a boost at that stage, because Christchurch's Michael Hockley was slated for a production assistant's job in the Queen City . . On the whole, afternoon programmes have bucked up at Channel 3 with an injection of repeat series of Bewitched, Dr Finlay's Casebook, George and the Dragon and The Black and White Minstrel Show . . . . Watch out for more chapters in the Rev. Bob Lowe's As I See It commentaries on New Zealand society. They will fill the Sunday evening religious time slot, starting at WNTV1 mid-August. The Fendalton vicar came up with three of these programmes last year and they certainly lifted viewer ratings. They should again this time. Director is Peter Lambert and Mr Lowe will be backed up by Channel 3's Town and Around man, David McPhail, and Canterbury University law lecturer Howard Godfrey, who has also written the scripts. Mr Lowe was quoted as saying that As I See It will be cutting and controversial . . . . A call for urgency in setting up educational TV in New Zealand came from the annual conference of the Workers' Educational Association in Christchurch and was backed up a few days later by the Canterbury branch of the Post-primary Teachers' Association. Branch chairman, Mr W. J. Fletcher, said there was a real case for showing educational programmes in the afternoons when they could be used by schools and cited Ron Walton's In the Nature of Things, a Channel 3 production, as one that should be used. Other examples from Mr Fletcher were The Lost Peace, Forsyte Saga and David Copperfield.
These, and some of Looking at New Zealand efforts have shown that programmes can be both educational and enter- taining. he said . . . . The new series of Landscape has made even less impression than the first. The best that canvbe said for it is that it must have been a useful exercise for someone. . . .
Congratulations to producer, Harold Anderson and all concerned with the first class outside telecast of the opening of Dunedin's new University College, by the Governor-General, Sir Arthur Porritt, during the Otago University centennial celebrations. The brief, semi-documentary which preceded the telecast was faultlessly timed to lead in to the opening ceremony. In addition to the Television coverage, which incidentally was narrated by Peter Dallas, there was a radio record of events, provided by George Speed and monitor TV screens were placed in various parts of the large building to enable all the visitors to get a close-up look at events . . , . Our best wishes go to Spencer Jolly and his wife, formerly Miss Philippa Andrews, of Nelson, who were married in Dunedin's Knox Church recently. Although generally behind-the-scenes providing items for the DNTV2 Newsroom, Spencer has often been seen on Town and Around and is well-known among members of the Younger Set for his keen interest and up-to-the-minute coverage of items of interest on the Pop Scene. Interesting to note, too, that the music for the marriage ceremony was provided by one of Spencer's colleagues, announcer David England, who, for a number of years, has been organist and choirmaster at the North-East Valley Presbyterian Church.