From the New Zealand TV Weekly. April 22, 1968


This has been a vintage year for exciting rumours of impending visits by top TV stars, but they seldom seem to be correct. First it was Violet Carson; then Patrick Wymark was to come and carry the peace banner. So it was all the more surprising that Peter Breck, one of the Big Valley leads, did arrive -on a rapid vacation to get away from the ulcer capital of the world (Hollywood) for a week of big-game fishing. After four years Big Valley is still going strong in the States. Peter Breck has just signed up for a further series and figures that it is good for another couple of years . . . . Dynamic Shirley Bassey pulled record crowds for her local concerts. A Dean Martin fan, she commented casually that she couldn't understand why everyone did not fall in love with Dino. Record receipts prompted entrepreneur, Harry Miller, to comment to TV Weekly that New Zealand must be the most affluent broke country in the world . . . . Was John Blumsky trying to imitate Dino or Peter Sinclair when he took over The Late Show front-man chore during Pete's absence in Australia? Whichever it was, it flopped. Can't help feeling that Kevan Moore is missing his target this season. In trying to please everyone, he is finding the perfect formula for ensuring that everyone will also be partly irritated. Take the following strange bedfellows in a single show: Sir Leslie Munro as a senior statesman; Donald McIntyre with operatic offerings; go-go dancers and pop numbers; Joe Lane in a comedy routine that could have originated in the 'twenties vaudeville days. Think they're all going to appeal to the same folk? Come to that, why should it continue to be The Late Show if it isn't going to follow the adult, sophisticated pattern first envisaged? . . . . Once a frequent contributor to New Zealand magazines, later often quoted as editor of the Melbourne edition of one of Australia's big TV mags, now a columnist with a Hong Kong paper, Marsha Prysuska, paid a brief visit last month. How did it feel to be away from TV after seven years editing a TV mag? Marvellous-—if I never saw TV again, that would be soon enough . . . . Surprising how many happily forgotten TV series linger on through their theme tunes- Henry Mancini's fine music for Mr Lucky, for instance.


Another WNTV1 personality off to Australia to try his luck, is Sportsview's Bill McCarthy. He has taken leave of absence for 12 months from the NZBC. Born in Bluff, he was educated in Dunedin where he started his career with the NZBC and subsequently got a break with sports commentaries. He came to Wellington three years ago, and has been the regular front of-camera man for Sportsview for some time. His easy, relaxed style has made him a favourite among viewers. As an interviewer he needs a little more polish which experience in Australia could bring. NZBC interviewers of sports personalities too often do not press their questions to the point where the viewers feel they are learning something new or gaining a fresh insight into a particular sport or pastime .... Rob Crabtree will take over from Bill, at least for a few weeks, and David Williams may also have a chalice at the front-of-camera seat on Sportsview ... Maurice Smyth has put paid to the continuing rumour that he is about to leave the producer's chair of Town and Around to return to Northern Ireland. He is definitely to stay on in Wellington, and this must be good news both to viewers, and to the administrators. Producers of Maurice's skill are not so easy to find these days ... Former Town and Around man, Mike Minehan, also known to a wider audience as a reporter for Compass, has landed on his feet in Australia as anchor man for the ABC's Tonight ... The series, Whicker's World, has produced some of the best Television seen here this year. Whicker, who himself has become something of a Television tycoon with a new commercial network, Yorkshire Television in England, tackles a challenging variety of topics in the series currently being shown here ... Ian Johnstone made a welcome re-appearance on screen speaking the commentary on a documentary on Seato. He revealed again what a splendid style he has for documentaries, even though the subject matter on this occasion was hardly up to scratch.


Christchurch cinema attendances are increasing, and the effect of TV decreasing, according to local movie house managers. But audiences are more discriminating. Five years ago there were many people who went to the films twice a week as a habit. Now they go only when there is a film they particularly want to see. According to one manager, TV is not the only factor that has affected bookings. The city's increasing number of wine and dine establishments and 10 o'clock closing have played a part too . . . . A fabulous representative of the new satirical influx in Television was how pianist John Ogdon, in Christchurch for the Pan Pacific Arts Festival, described English pianist and comedian Dudley (Not Only... But Also) Moore ... Still on the festival: General view of those who attended the opening concert in barn-like King Edward Barracks. I agreed that CHTV3's delayed telecasts provided infinitely better sound than came through at the concert itself. Task for camera crew and sound recordists was a tough assignment as there was no chance of a live rehearsal. They used tapes of previous performances and worked out camera moves and switches using empty barracks... Vienna State Opera soprano, Rita Streich, seen on New Zealand screens a few years back in films made by her husband, had no news of further TV appearances during her stay in the city . . . . Generally conceded that the Town and Around team have been responsible for the lion's share of festival coverage. Many viewers disappointed that the same old boring film fare was dished up during Christchurch's festival when there could have been some live telecasting of festival attractions. But it may well have been that, like the New Zealand Rugby Union, the festival committee feared that culture-seekers would have remained at home and viewed rather than gone and paid ... Seemingly never-ending source of complaint of residents living close to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Station at Wigram is the disruption of suburban peace and quiet by the noisy Harvard trainers. One local newspaper correspondent alleged recently that the NZBC, which at one time was to build new studios in the Halswell district, abandoned the project simply because of the noise of the aircraft indulging in "circuits and bumps" at nearby Wigram. If such was the case, the NZBC did not make a song about it.


At present the various departments of DNTV2 are housed in all or part of no less than seven buildings in the city, and this means a great deal of inconvenience and loss of time in moving from one place to another. Recently, however, NZBC took out a long-term lease on six floors of a new building being erected by the Methodist Church which should be completed in about two years. On an excellent site in the Octagon, in the heart of the city, the new building will mean that almost all TV personnel will be in the one building. The studios at Garrison Hall and the scenic workshop in Fryatt Street will remain in use, and another building, exclusively for radio, is at present under construction in Anzac Avenue. This will reduce the number of buildings to four and the inconvenience and confusion of the present situation will be dispensed with completely.... The 10 Dunedin programmes in the national children's quiz, Top Mark, have now been completed and it now remains to be seen how northern channels will handle their contributions to the series. The Dunedin programmes maintained a fairly high standard, although at times, host Peter Troon, a local school teacher, seemed to have difficulty in putting his young guests at ease... Harold Anderson, who produced Top Mark, has now taken charge of a new children's series, tentatively titled Jigsaw. Still in the planning stages, it is hoped that this series will introduce features entirely new to junior magazines so far seen in this country... Producer, Nigel Beard, of On Camera, has been on leave over the past couple of weeks, and the series has been run by Rod Cornelius, a former Town and Around producer. Later this year, Rod will be handling a film showing the life of the kakapo, a native bird which was thought to be extinct until recent discoveries proved otherwise. The Department of Internal Affairs intends to trace the birds, finding out just how many are still in existence and where they are. Rod, accompanied by a camera team, will be on hand to record the discoveries.

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